Meet Streetmix, Where You Can Design Your Own Street (in Penang)

Do you have the feeling that your street could be a lot better if it were designed for people and safe mobility instead of primarily for moving and parked cars? Suppose the entire width of the street, sidewalks, gutters and provision for parked and moving vehicles is, say, xx meters. And if you wanted to see what it could  look like if there were more provision for safe walking, cycling, street furniture, trees and greenery, transit shelters, priority public transport, lane dividers,  turn lanes, and yes, parked and moving vehicles, then have a look at Streetmix (the Website Where You Can Design Your Own Street in Penang).

USA Streetmix - 2 all car

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Whenever I hear the word revolver . . . I reach for my culture.

We have long-held a theory at the New Mobility Agenda that you can never tell where the next good idea is going to come from. So you really do have to keep your eyes, ears and minds wide open, and learn where you can, where you can, from whom you can. For example, Volkswagen in the New Mobility Agenda? Well, what not? Let’s show you one great idea that you may not have seen the first time around and that we have just this morning plucked out from our archives.
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Honk! Getting off the ox (when it comes to cars and cities).

There is a bit of ancient Hindu  wisdom that goes, roughly: How can a man riding an ox and looking for an ox, ever find the ox.  The answer being of course, only when he gets off the ox. Thus it is in life, but for many of us it is somewhere between hard and impossible to ever get off the ox of our perceptions and set values. But there are, thankfully, creative people who can do this.

Here by way of a quick warm-up is one quick demonstration of this off-the-ox approach from the lively mind of Jean Tinguely of his Cyclograveur, in short a bicycle that, as you pant and pedal, paints beautiful (?!?) pictures. And now t for your weekend reading pleasure let’s have a look at what our friends over at Streetsblog have just reported on another more timely off-the-ox transportation project, this time by the ever-ingenious Chris Burden with his post-Tinguely road-wrapping machine, Metropolis II.  Off we go. Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2010 and Morning in America

On the eve of Thanksgiving 2010 sitting here in Paris, my thoughts not unnaturally turn to my native America. And since our view here is from the street I have to think a bit unhappily about why is it that we in this great country do not seem to be able to let go of “old mobility” – i.e., whenever you spot a problem you build something to solve it (also known as the Edifice Complex) – as the highest-possible cost, least civil, one size fits all solution to our problems of efficient transport and fair access in and around cities. Of course we Americans invented old mobility a long time ago — and at the time it seemed like such a logical and dynamic solution to the connection challenges of a vast growing nation. As indeed it was. But suddenly it’s 2010, the twentieth century is long behind us, and if we look carefully at the low quality of what we are seeing on our city streets across the nation it would strike one that perhaps it is time to rethink OM from bottom to top and come up with something a lot better. For example New Mobility, which without our having to define it here is the basic strategy and value set that is behind the far more successful city transport arrangements we can see in hundreds of leading cities around the world – and none of them sadly are American.

Why and how have we arrived at this sad state of affairs? Well, let me ask a foreigner working in this field who has long lived in and long admired America to tell us about what he thinks is going on. Sometimes when you are lost it helps to stop the car, roll down the window, and ask for some directions. Let’s try. Continue reading

Kaohsiung 2010 Papers: Share/Transport in India – Threats, Challenges, Opportunities

Sharing is an inherently natural process of establishing a joint use of resources It is a primarily self-initiated and regulated process. In this regard share transport can be seen as an informal, unregulated or loosely regulated, low-cost (even works on micro credit, when loose change is unavailable to complete the transaction), small or medium scale sharing of transport infrastructure (such as roads, streets and spaces) and/or vehicles in time and/or space. Sharing of Transport in this format, across the Indian Sub-continent and indeed many other developing countries in South-East Asia, has always been a part of the informal public transport network and is mostly as old as the city itself. Continue reading

En Vélib’ dans les éco-quartiers By Vélib’ in Paris "eco-neighborhoods"

Okay, dear reader. If you want to get to the bottom of this update on how Paris’s famous Vélib’s are being integrated into the city’s mobility and land use plan at a fair level of detail, you will have to make your way through this largely untouched machine translation of an article just published by the Vélib team here in Paris. Courage!

(If you want to know you will know. If you don’t, you won’t.. .)

Vélib’ in Paris “eco-neighborhoods”

Source: http://velib.centraldoc.com/newsletter/

The month of April puts sustainable development in the spotlight for a week. On this occasion, you can learn about eco-neighborhoods with Vélib’. How do they favor motorized traffic? What is the mobility of tomorrow? Eco-neighborhoods are part of the climate plan of the City of Paris, which aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas emissions.

What is an eco-neighborhood?”

While Vélib ‘has participated in the increase in cycling in the city, sustainable neighborhoods begin to bloom in the capital. The users of Vélib ‘could well be among the first to borrow the bike paths of sustainable neighborhoods, which are biased to motorized traffic and public transportation. The construction of an eco-neighborhood based inter alia on the best life and living together. The urban setting has to be warm and alive and for this, sustainable mobility, natural heritage, security is taken into account, as well as biodiversity, water management, noise and air pollution. Building a sustainable community based mainly on the HQE (High Environmental Quality) rewarding the preservation of the planet and a better quality of life (noise, air quality, water …).

A sustainable community is thought of as environmental and energy challenges, but also by economic and social criteria. Eco-building, renewable energy, revegetation techniques are widely used in the context of eco-neighborhoods.

* Click here for more information on eco-neighborhoods

Vélib’, soft modes and sustainable neighborhoods: what is the mobility of tomorrow? Anne

According to Anne Faure planner present at the conference on mobility and eco-neighborhoods, organized last February 16 by the association Zukunftstrasse in partnership with the Club of cities and territories bicycle, motorized traffic is a fundamental criteria in the construction of an eco-neighborhood. For her, Vélib ‘has given visibility to cyclists.

The concept of eco-neighborhood was first developed in the countries of northern Europe. According to Anne Faure, the Grenelle Environment has encouraged its development in France where the projects sustainable neighborhoods are still very recent. “One can cite the examples of the BIA Good Grenoble or Lyon Confluence, these neighborhoods are close to the center and well served by public transport, the soft modes are also very present. Meanwhile, there is a proliferation of small projects in France, “she said.

According to Anne Faure, so that these new neighborhoods are truly eco-neighborhoods, it is necessary that they be served by public transport and car traffic and parking are limited. It is a difficult objective to implement but the view is changing. “Indeed, we must know that 40% of average emissions of greenhouse gases are produced by the building and 40% from transport. Other sectors, which include industry, only 20% “she adds. The BIA of Rungis and the Batignolles district in Paris trying to develop such soft methods. The Confluence area in Saint-Denis and the reconquest of warehouses in the Ile-Saint-Denis also take into account the overall problems of displacement. “But in France the focus is on the building with techniques such as thermal insulation, while in Germany the first experiments in the primary endpoint was a city without a car,” said Anne Faure.

The planner said that the construction of an eco-neighborhood refers to the principles of sustainable development based on economic issues (including development of commercial and non-polluting activities), social (including construction of housing and utilities) and environmental (focus attention on managing energy, water and waste). She said the principle of eco-quartier is a first step towards a new vision of the city: “This is of course to shatter the limits of eco-districts across the territory of the city. For this, we need these neighborhoods is easily accessible to everyone, so they serve as a model.

The eco-city tour of Paris’s Vélib’

Beyond the planned actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the City of Paris acts on the environment: adaptation of buildings, revegetation of Paris, creating green spaces, roofs, shared gardens … Sustainable Neighbourhoods part of this process. They are emerging especially in the outskirts of the city, on vacant urban land or concerted development zones (CAZ). Gare de Rungis (13th), Boucicault (15th) and Claude Bernard (19th) … Velib ‘invites you to visit the eco-neighborhoods of tomorrow, Cycling. Browse a few of them with iVélib ‘.

* The district Fréquel Hondarribia in the 20th district was awarded in November 2009 by the Department of Ecology to support eco-district, in the Category Sobriety energy. Station Vélib ‘No. 20016

* 1st eco-neighborhood in the capital, the Batignolles in the 17th district will be divided into three sectors: BIA-Cardinet Chalabre BIA Clichy Batignolles area Saussure. Station Vélib ‘No. 17110

* Planned for 2012, the BIA Pajot, located in the heart of the 18th district, will pilot an eco-neighborhood in Paris, where the architectural heritage will retain his place. Station Vélib ‘No. 18010

* Launched December 6, 2009, Macdonald warehouse, located Porte d’Aubervilliers, is the largest geothermal project of its kind in Paris and covers an area of 200 hectares. Station Vélib ‘No. 19032

Examples from abroad

In Europe, there are many sustainable neighborhoods, including the Netherlands,
Ava-Lanxmeer in Culemborg, Sweden, B001 in Malmo Hammarby in Stockholm, and Finland, Helsinki Vikki.

In the UK, BedZED is a neighborhood built in south London, between 2001 and 2002. Covering an area of 1.7 hectares, it accommodates 100 apartments, 2 500 m² of offices and shops, green spaces, an auditorium, a health center, a sports complex and a creche. Since its establishment, and compared to conventional homes, this eco-district has reduced its energy consumption for heating by 88% and electricity by 25%.

In Germany, the Vauban district in Freiburg im Breisgau was rehabilitated in 1996 according to strict standards QEH. Nearly 3 000 homes and 600 jobs have been created. The homes are powered by solar energy and produce more energy than they consume. The area has been developed for an optimal sun exposure, with environmentally friendly materials and roofs are vegetated. Automobile traffic is reduced and the space reserved for outdoor games and soft travel.

Switzerland also has many eco-neighborhoods, Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Bern.

Projects are underway in Austin, Texas, United States, and Wuhan, China.

Green Neighbourhoods (Quartiers verts)

The City of Paris has been engaged for several years a new policy of sharing public space. Green neighborhoods have been created.

The first of them, completed in 2003, Alesia Tombe Issoire, covers an area of 65 hectares and was built to improve safety and comfort of residents. The continuity of bike routes has been optimized, and speed of traffic has been limited. Much has also been devoted to the greening of the area, with the planting of 45 trees and 14 planters.

In the 12th district, the district Aligre favors soft travel with a velocity at 30 km / h, parking reorganized, or the creation of bike paths. Shrubs and planters were installed to revegetate the area.

* For more click http://www.paris.fr/portail/deplacements/Portal.lut?page_id=7414

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Minister of Information

A book entitled “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” by someone named Edward Tufte somehow landed on my desk in the middle 1980s and in a way it changed if not my whole life, at least a lot of my perceptions about the use of statistics and graphic images to convince, to propagandize, to beguile or simply to explain with balance and clarity what is really going on out there in the real world. And the indomitable author is still hard at it. Challenge yourself graphically. Read on.

Everyone knows that statistics (can) lie, and certainly for those of us who are interested in public policy and communications it is important we have a sophisticated understanding of what this is all about. That book, The Visual Display, was by a professor at Yale University, who at the time had an interesting collection of departmental affiliations, which as I recall included statistics, computer science, political science and . . . graphics and design. An unusual combination for sure, and if you can start to familiarize yourself with his work, you will never regret that you opened those first pages.

I hope that this interview, which appeared two weeks ago in “On the Media”, a program of National Public Radio in the United States will make you curious to know more about Tufte and his work. Let me enthusiastically recommend his 1990 book “Envisioning Information”, and for the rest you will find out pretty much everything you would need to know in terms of his publications from Google and Wikipedia. For my part I have just ordered his latest, “Beautiful Evidence” (Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press. ISBN 0961392177).

One interesting aspect of his work that I discovered years ago was that when it was time to publish his first major work (Visual Display), he was so concerned about the quality of the graphic presentations that, after numerous discussions with publishers, he decided to go back home and start his own publishing house, Graphics Press. This scrupulous attention to detail says something very important about the author. Let’s listen to the professor in interview for a few minutes.

- – -

Minister of Information

Source: http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2010/03/19/02

You can listen to the interview here:

Edward Tufte is perhaps the country’s foremost evangelist for the clean, clear and rich presentation of complex information. The Obama administration’s stimulus package is flooding the economy with 787 billion dollars for employment and public works projects. Put the two together, as Obama did earlier this month when he nominated Tufte for the stimulus advisory board with the hopes that the public will have a fighting chance of understanding where the stimulus money went and what it’s doing.

The Obama administration’s stimulus package is pumping 787 billion dollars into the U.S. economy for public works, job creation and, yes, national broadband access. But showing exactly where that money is going is a Herculean task.

Earlier this month, the White House appointed Edward Tufte to the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board to make sure the website Recovery.gov does the job. You may not have heard of Tufte, but you’ve probably reaped the benefits of his work. A long-time Yale professor, author, consultant and data designer, Tufte has inspired a generation of innovators with his ideas for the efficient, clean and rich presentation of information.

He’s a fan of The New York Times website, the iPhone and, most of all, the lowly sports page, with its tables and stats a reader can grasp in an instant.

But he’s in a constant war with the average website, cluttered with scroll bars, logos, jargon and meaningless graphics.

EDWARD TUFTE: They make the simple complex [LAUGHS]. The design hand in there is from the marketing department, and it’s unfortunate because our eye-brain system is so powerful, in one long glance, maybe a 12-second glance at something, probably 120 megabits of information goes to our brain. And there’s no reason we have to be looking at impoverished materials because we process material at enormous rates.

BOB GARFIELD: Okay, so come now to your White House appointment, which is kind of a tough nut.

EDWARD TUFTE: [LAUGHS]

BOB GARFIELD: The data among different agencies doesn’t necessarily conform. They have different ways of measuring appropriations and expenditures, and it’s really hard to get a fix. There’s not only apples and oranges, but there’s grapefruits and strawberries and kumquats out there. What’s a graphics guru to do?

EDWARD TUFTE: Probably the first thing that most people do when they go to the website is they type in their zip code, and up pops up all the stimulus projects in their area. And what’s interesting about this, it’s a huge database and the particular viewer has no interest in 99 percent of it, but via the zip code they can make it special for them, as can everybody else.

BOB GARFIELD: You know, I spent a little time recently on Recovery.gov, and to me, you know, it doesn’t look bad at all. It looks like a particularly good explainer section put together by a particularly good newspaper. You know, I think that it does a pretty good job of directing me to the larger picture and also the one in my own backyard.

EDWARD TUFTE: Terrific, that’s great.

[BOTH AT ONCE]

BOB GARFIELD: When you look at Recovery.gov, do you just see a thousand problems to be solved that I’m not seeing?

EDWARD TUFTE: What I would most like to do is to make some additional things that are worthy of the zip code map and the data. One idea that I’ve been thinking of is called a flashlight map, and so you see a kind of dark blue United States with nothing on it, and then the dots, the little lights come on as each project started. That shows the spatial distribution, over time, of the stimulus projects.

I love that you picked up the metaphor that it was like a newspaper. The first thing I said about a year ago when I met with them for the first time is that their model should be a first-rate news website.

BOB GARFIELD: Ah-ha, so the reason I’m not seeing so much to find fault with is ‘cause you’ve already been tinkering with this for months before your official appointment.

EDWARD TUFTE: Once we got the news metaphor and got the intense mapping, that’s halfway there. I wouldn’t give it an A yet. There’s, you know, still a ways to go, and I know some of them, and I hope to, you know, find a few more.

BOB GARFIELD: Okay, so Recovery.gov is looking pretty good. You have achieved some of the clarity that you’re looking for. Other government agencies are just woeful, I mean, woeful.

EDWARD TUFTE: Yeah, the Fed’s websites are not very good. The great dream of this – I think there’s one chance in ten that it might happen – is that Recovery.gov would become a model for all government funding, so we’re now talking trillions, not this piddly 787 billion. [LAUGHS]

BOB GARFIELD: As the reporting of data becomes a more effective way for the government to communicate what it’s up to, it seems to me also an opportunity for the politicians in the administration to go, huh, why can’t we use this as a really powerful political tool and skew the very data that you’re trying to clarify?

EDWARD TUFTE: This is not going to be a propaganda engine of – no – –

[OVERTALK] -

BOB GARFIELD: Let me put it to you a far more direct way.

EDWARD TUFTE: Mm-hmm.

BOB GARFIELD: If Karl Rove were the – still the White House political operative and he had the opportunity to use cherry-picked data to sell his administration’s policies, it sure would have been nice for him to have a really sweet interface.

EDWARD TUFTE: I had once the rather shocking experience that Karl Rove mentioned the ten most wonderful books that he ever read and, of course, it had Machiavelli, and so on.

[BOB LAUGHS]

But it also had, to my mixed delight and, and a little bit of horror, my book with the catchy title The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. [LAUGHS]

Political practice today too often skips right by evidence and has preconceived and endlessly naïve views about causality and how policies work. The government’s job is to try to solve problems, and I am interested in helping them solve the problem of clarifying the stimulus and also understanding the, the consequences of the stimulus.

I’m going to do the best I can and put it out in the world, and, and we’ll see what happens.

BOB GARFIELD: All right. E.T., thank you very much for coming.

EDWARD TUFTE: Okay. [LAUGHS] Good, thank you.

[MUSIC UP AND UNDER]

BOB GARFIELD: Edward Tufte is author most recently of Beautiful Evidence.

# # #

Edward Tufte is a data display guru who is widely known for criticizing the way most people use power point to communicate information. Here is what Wikipedia has to say: “He is an expert in the presentation of informational graphics such as charts and diagrams, and is a fellow of the American Statistical Association. Tufte has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. Tufte lives in Cheshire, Connecticut. He periodically travels around the United States to offer one-day workshops on data presentation and information graphics.”

Preview of coming attractions:. “The best statistical graphic ever drawn“, is how Edward Tufte describes this chart in ‘The Visual Display of Quantitative Information’.

Tufte goes on to comment:
The chart, or statistical graphic, is also a map. And a strange one at that. It depicts the advance into (1812) and retreat from (1813) Russia by Napoleon’s Grande Armée, which was decimated by a combination of the Russian winter, the Russian army and its scorched-earth tactics. To my knowledge, this is the origin of the term ’scorched earth’ – the retreating Russians burnt anything that might feed or shelter the French, thereby severely weakening Napoleon’s army.

As a statistical chart, the map unites six different sets of data.
• Geography: rivers, cities and battles are named and placed according to their occurrence on a regular map.
• The army’s course: the path’s flow follows the way in and out that Napoleon followed.
• The army’s direction: indicated by the colour of the path, gold leading into Russia, black leading out of it.
• The number of soldiers remaining: the path gets successively narrower, a plain reminder of the campaigns human toll, as each millimetre represents 10.000 men.
• Temperature: the freezing cold of the Russian winter on the return trip is indicated at the bottom, in the republican measurement of degrees of réaumur (water freezes at 0° réaumur, boils at 80° réaumur).
• Time: in relation to the temperature indicated at the bottom, from right to left, starting 24 October (pluie, i.e. ‘rain’) to 7 December (-27°).

Pause a moment to ponder the horrific human cost represented by this map: Napoleon entered Russia with 442.000 men, took Moscow with only 100.000 men left, wandered around its abandoned ruins for some time and escaped the East’s wintry clutches with barely 10.000 shivering soldiers. Those include 6.000 rejoining the ‘bulk’ of the army from up north. Napoleon never recovered from this blow, and would be decisively beaten at Waterloo under two years later.

America, it’s time to meet the Sharrow. (Be brave)

After five years of sanctioned experimentation in American cities—large and small–the Federal Highway Administration has officially adopted Shared Use Lane Markings, or “Sharrows,” into the latest version of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

America Codifies Shared Use Lane Markings (Sharrows)

While the MUTCD is not everyday reading for many livable streets advocates, its contents largely dictate how America’s roadways are detailed, signed, and controlled, and therefore controls the widespread application of sustainable transport innovations.
Image Credit, Mike Lydon

Sharrows are comprised of a bicycle and chevron symbol, which communicate that bicycles and automobiles must share travel lanes equally. First used in the City of Denver, sharrows became more widely recognized following a 2004 study demonstrating that their application in San Francisco improved lane positioning for bicyclists and increased the amount of passing distance given by motorists overtaking bicyclists.

The study also reported that the marking helped cut down on the number of sidewalk bicyclists and reduced the number of people traveling illegally against traffic.

To be sure, Sharrows are no substitute for more substantial bicycle infrastructure, yet may be used in specific contexts where more robust bikeways are difficult to implement.

According to the National Associations of Transportation Officials (NACTO) and their Cycling for Cities initiative, more than 76 American municipalities are now utilizing Shared Use Lane Markings to accomplish the following:

- Help bicyclists position themselves safely in lanes too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane

- Mimics the effect of bicycle lanes on streets with constrained rights of way and alerts road users of the lateral location bicyclists may occupy

- Move bicyclists out of the “door zone” of parked cars

- Encourage safe passing by motorists

- Require no additional roadway space

- Alert all road users to the presence of bicycles

Sharrows may also improve the overall visibility of the bikeway network, especially along those thoroughfares where bicycle lanes end abruptly, but the need for visible bicycle accommodation surely continues.

Image credit, Peter Furth

In general, Sharrows should be applied to streets with moderate motor vehicle traffic volume, and where right-of-way space is constrained as to not allow the necessary width for bicycle lanes. Some locations, such as Long Beach, CA and Salt Lake City, UT have taken the concept further by experimenting with a type of marking that may be best described as a hybrid between a sharrow and bicycle lane.

With such markings now fully included in the MUTCD, it is likely that those American cities that tentatively experimented with the marking will now expand their use. Likewise, those municipalities who have either been waiting for their official inclusion in the MUTCD, or who are not familiar with facility type can now pursue sharrows as an inexpensive means of improving the overall safety ad visibility of the bicycle network.

For car-happy American, this indicates a step in the right direction.

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About the author:
Mike Lydon is the founding Principal of The Street Plans Collaborative. Before launching TSPC in 2009, Lydon worked for Smart Growth Vermont, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, and Ann Arbor’s GetDowntown Program. From 2006 – 2009 Lydon worked for Duany Plater-Zyberk and Company, an international leader in the practice of smart growth planning, design, and research techniques. Along with Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, Mike co-authored The Smart Growth Manual.

The Street Plans Collaborative
279 Henry Street #9
Brooklyn, NY 11201
917-767-9850
www.streetplans.org

Cycling your brain (It really could use a bit of fresh air)

Have you noticed? Just about all of the planning and decision making in our underperforming, all too often dysfunctional sector is terribly familiar. Priorities are set, terms of references written up, responsibilities defined, teams created, schedules posted, instructions issued, tools identified and applied, observations made, meetings arranged, reports written, recommendations communicated and the whole process grinds ahead to its inevitable destination – more often than not, bingo: old mobility! But if you look closely, the very mechanism, the process, is pretty much the same we were seeing back in the middle of the last century when we were planning and implementing many of the messes we now find ourselves in. Hmm.

So the moral of the story is that we need to take some very different approaches to identifying and then to starting to resolve the most pressing of our problems.

There are some out there, fortunately, and here is one you might wish to spend at least a few minutes with. They call it the NewMasterdam Bike Slam, and back in mid August as it was forming up we announced it here .

Well the Slam has been run, and the ocean spanning organizers have just completed a small illustrated booklet that sets out some of the process, as well as some of the recommendations they came up with. Here is more on that, together with the link so that you can review their results.

Their announcement, just in today:

Booklet on the New Amsterdam Bike Slam
While the Bike Slam teams were hard at work, leading experts from urban planning and design, transportation policy, cultural anthropology, and advocacy gathered on September 11 at the Center for Architecture to discuss “Global Trends in Sustainable Transportation Policy,” especially as they pertain to New York City.

Throughout the day, the primarily American audience was treated to perspectives from a multitude of exceptional speakers who offered opinions wide and varied, including how Dutch cities integrate economic benefits with the planning of space; population groups who are harbingers for significant mode shift (women and elderly); and the strong connections between growing cycling and lowering carbon emissions. Perhaps most inspiring is the consistent theme that benchmarks are not indications for achievement and mark the end of the project, but are markers for improvements and going further.

Special guests of the day included Christopher Ward, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Janette Sadik- Khan, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner.

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Download the booklet here. – http://www.aimsterdam.nl/bestanden/AIM-NABS

Keep on peddling. It will only do you good.

Public Space Shootout in the Aspen Corral

Public spaces – chief among them in most cities in terms of the real estate occupied being streets – are a legitimate topic for World Streets and sustainable transport/climate policy more generally. Last month friend Fred Kent traveled to the Aspen Ideas Festival and ended up in a bit of a brawl with Frank Gehry on our topic. Who won?

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Hawkes and Sheridan on Rethinking the Street Space

For more than 100 years, street design policy was stagnant. But now, planners and policymakers are expanding their ideas about what streets can be. Amber Hawkes and Georgia Sheridan examine the history of street design — and look to the future.

Some first excerpts from:
Rethinking the Street Space: Evolving Life in the Streets

Good design supports the function of a desired use. For over 150 years, street design standards and funding structures have successfully supported the single use of automobiles in the street space. Major cities across the globe are beginning to rediscover the street space (i.e. streets, sidewalks, alleys, and everything they contain) as an essential component of our neighborhoods and communities. In an effort to improve the quality of urban life, a wave of new street design manuals and toolkits has emerged – redefining the way streets are used. However, as communities rewrite their street design manuals, they face an outdated and well-developed federal transit infrastructure. History shows that street design standards have been limited by the prevailing notion of streets as a place for cars, rather than people.

Streets as Places for Reform: Bicycles Pave the Way for Automobiles

Urban streets of the Victorian era suffered from their own set of design and maintenance issues: rotting trash, horse droppings, crowding, crime, noise, mud, dirt, potholes and streets without sidewalks. When introduced in the early 1800s, bicycles, or “freedom machines” as feminist Susan B. Anthony called them, provided urban dwellers with a new form of mobility. At the turn of the 19th century, innovation in bike technologies brought about a nationwide bike craze. In the 1890s, 80% of residents rode bicycles on a regular basis in Detroit, the future “Motor City” of the world.

Bicycle coalitions and clubs became the first advocates of street standardization, calling for smoother, safer roads. With a zest for ‘sanitation’ and ‘social order,’ Victorian-era governments were happy to oblige. In 1875, the Public Health Act in England passed a by-law street ordinance that mandated wide, straight, and paved streets. These early, rigid regulations, emphasizing uniformity and standardization have remained largely unchanged over the years.

* For the full text of this second article in the Planetizen series “Rethinking the Street Space” click here to http://www.planetizen.com/node/40066

____________________________________________________
The next article in the series will take a look at the recent wave of livable street design toolkits and policies published by cities across the country and world, comparing mission statements, design elements, implementation plans, and decision-making structures. The first part of this series looks at why street design matters and where we are today in terms of designing the “street space.”

Amber Hawkes and Georgia Sheridan are Urban Planners and Designers working in Downtown Los Angeles at Torti Gallas and Partners. They have lectured at conferences and universities and have worked in a variety of capacities that inform their planning and design work, from behavioral art therapy, social work, and historic preservation, to health law policy, green building policy, and journalism.