Supporting Bicycles is a Good Idea for Cities

Torontoist is a blog focused on, you guessed it, Toronto and they recently ran a series of posts about bike lanes. It’s not all about Toronto as they pull data from New York and tout Strasbourg as an inspiration that Toronto ought to follow.

The success of cycling infrastructure in Strasbourg is a result of partnerships between the city and other transportation agencies. Parcus, the city’s arms-length parking authority, manages parking lots throughout Strasbourg and incorporates bike parking as part of its facilities. Parcus provides free, supervised bike parking at five different parking lots across the city. Parking attendants are even equipped with repair kits and bike pumps.

In another recent post, Torontoist provides a look at three myths about bike lanes that people (for some reason) believe. The first myth is that bike lanes block people from commuting from the suburbs. The response to the myth is pretty great:

The myth here is that cycling infrastructure will cause congestion to the point of excessive traffic delays. Bike lanes don’t always add to traffic congestion, and really need to be analyzed on a case by case basis. Except for rush hour, Bloor Street is already occupied by parking spaces on either side of the road, and, in turn, narrows a four-lane street down to two lanes. Bike lanes will remove parking spaces, sure, but in turn will leave the two-lane situation in the same condition it was prior to the installation of the bike lanes. If bike lanes do in fact cause minor inconveniences, these inconveniences are nothing in comparison to on-street parking used practically around the clock. Here’s an 808 page book on why that’s bad public policy.

Lastly, the site outlined why bicycle infrastructure is part of a larger movement to make streets good for all commuters. Having a multimodal approach to urban transportation is always a good form of planning rather than a monolithic approach focused on one mode of getting around.

The study of the improvements made to Richmond and Adelaide streets, which included the addition of a cycle track separated from vehicle traffic by flexi-posts and planter boxes, concluded that the upgrades resulted in an increased number of cyclists using the roadways and reduced travel times for drivers. During off-peak hours, a motorist’s trip was 30 per cent faster after the cycle track was installed and 12 per cent faster during peak hours.

In the study, both cyclists and drivers reported that they felt safer using the street once it had been upgraded. The report did not, however, mention how incorrect usage of the roadway, such as drivers and delivery trucks parking in the bike lane, can render it less safe since cyclists usually have to merge with traffic.

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A Beer Six Pack Meant For The Oceans

Saltwater Brewery is a beer company that makes the oceans better while selling beer. Most breweries sell their beers in six packs attached by plastic rings and those rings often end up in the ocean chocking sea life and otherwise causing harm to the ecosystem. What Saltwater has done is create a new six pack ring that breaks down in the water and can even feed some aquatic life!

The rings are also 100 percent biodegradable and compostable, which just ups the product’s sustainability game.

The brand says that the innovative design is as resistant and efficient as plastic packaging. The only drawback is that edible six-pack rings are more expensive to produce. But the company hopes that customers will be willing to pay a little more in order to help the environment and animal life.

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Architecture Should Be A Story

For architect Ole Scheeren, the people who live and work inside a building are as much a part of that building as concrete, steel and glass. He asks: Can architecture be about collaboration and storytelling instead of the isolation and hierarchy of a typical skyscraper? Visit five of Scheeren’s buildings — from a twisted tower in China to a floating cinema in the ocean in Thailand — and learn the stories behind them.

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Parks Make Kids Smarter and Reduce Health Inequality

Urban parks can greatly improve the quality of a neighbourhood and it can improve the wellbeing of all people in the area. Of all the users of a park kids may benefit the most. A park in a city gives kids a place to play and it helps them mentally too.

The study authors suggest that green spaces may have a positive effect both directly and indirectly. “Green spaces provide children with opportunities to develop mental skills such as discovery and creativity,” says co-author Payam Dadvand, a physician and researcher at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona. More indirectly, green spaces may help by reducing exposure to air pollution and noise, increasing physical activity, and enriching microbial input from the environment, all of which have been associated with improved mental development, he says. When the researchers measured and factored in traffic-related air pollution, which is higher in places with fewer plants and trees, they found that it accounted for 20 to 65 percent of the observed association between greenness and cognitive development. Air pollution has been shown to have neurotoxic effects, Dadvand says.

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Thanks Delaney!

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Typographic Design Can Improve The World

The font you choose matters, it sets the tone of what is read and the overall look of what’s presented. A simple decision around fonts can turn something beautiful into an ugly mess and vice versa. Be conscious of what you pick.

Not only can fonts make things look nice they can also improve the lives of people around the world. The seemingly simple act of making things legible is more complex than you probably think.

But elsewhere, life-saving typefaces are still making notable appearances on the road — this time inside the car. In 2012 researchers at MIT partnered up with the typeface company Monotype to tackle the problem of driver distraction. They thought that if they could design easy-to-read screens and displays for inside a vehicle, drivers would spend less time trying to decipher words — and more time with their eyes on the road. To make those screens easier to read, they tried tweaking the typeface.

They settled on a “humanist” style typeface for the job, which has more space between characters and easily distinguishable letterforms. Research suggests that humanist styles are more legible than the widely used geometric and square-shaped typefaces often used by car manufacturers. Here’s a graphic from the MIT/Monotype study that demonstrates the difference in counter shapes and other aspects that affect legibility:

font
Pro tip: don’t use comic sans.
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