Streetmix: Remix Your Street

StreetmixGood Street from Streetmix

Let’s be honest, people are bad at conveying their ideas on what streets can look like. Thankfully there’s an open source project designed to help people remix their local streets and share it with others. The web based design tool Streetmix provides a simple drag and drop interface to rethink your local roads, you don’t need an urban planning degree to figure out what should go where. Give it a try, generate some images, and go talk to your community about making your neighbourhood more people-friendly from the street up.

Why does Streetmix exist?

When city planners seek input from community meetings from the public on streetscape improvements, one common engagement activity is to create paper cut-outs depicting different street components (like bike lanes, sidewalks, trees, and so on) and allow attendees to reassemble them into their desired streetscape. Planners and city officials can then take this feedback to determine a course of action for future plans. By creating an web-based version of this activity, planners can reach a wider audience than they could at meetings alone, and allow community members to share and remix each other’s creations.

The goal is to promote two-way communication between planners and the public, as well. Streetmix intends to communicate not just feedback to planners but also information and consequences of actions to the users that are creating streets. Kind of like SimCity did with its in-game advisors!

Streetmix can be used as a tool to promote and engage citizens around streetscape and placemaking issues, such as Complete Streets or the Project for Public Spaces’ Rightsizing Streets Guide.

Check out Streetmix.
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Even More Research that Raising Minimum Wage is Good for Everyone

happy workers in a factory

Haters keep telling us that minimum wage is too high, which is really saying they would love free labour for private profits. Those haters are also not thinking about the economy at large. A new, massive, study on the impact of minimum wage concludes that minimum wage increases help people who aren’t currently being paid enough and that the benefits to that group cascade upwards on the economic ladder. Trickle down economics is a clear failure and trickle up economics looks rather effective!

The study is indeed impressive. Census researchers Kevin Rinz and John Voorheis used data from the bureau’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which surveys more than 75,000 households. The authors then link this data with administrative filings from the Social Security Administration on wages and track the changes between 1991 and 2013. The study stands out for covering such a large number of people over such an extended period.

“[R]aising the minimum wage increases earnings growth at the bottom of the distribution, and those effects persist and indeed grow in magnitude over several years,” the authors write. At the same time, there’s little indication that other people will lose their jobs as a result of the minimum wage—the outcome conservatives always warn about.

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Here’s an Optimistic Savings Chart

Retirement grid

Retirement is a dream too far away for people to think about. We’re all really bad at thinking about the future and we often don’t want to think about money. Four Pillar Freedom put together the early retirement grid to address these concerns, and indeed retirement is something you can achieve. As with most issues in our society you can start making a positive impact on the world by buying less and reusing things more.

The sweet spot of the grid is found in the line of light yellow and green squares that cut through the middle. Each of those squares is in the 16 to 28 years range. They represent how many years you would need to work if you saved between 30% and 50% of your after-tax income. For many people, saving that much is a tough but realistic goal.

Considering the average person works for over 40 years, getting that number down to 28 is no small feat! That represents 12 extra years of your life where you get to do what you want, when you want, on your own terms.

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Light Physical Effort can Lengthen Your Life

run

Worried you’re not getting enough exercise throughout your day? If you don’t think you’re moving around enough then this will be good news for you: every step you take counts to a longer life. A new study has found that it’s how much walking (or movement) you do during the day matters a lot towards longevity. The kind of physical activity you’re doing doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re doing something – even if it’s just taking the stairs instead of the escalator.

“Everything counts,” said William Kraus, a cardiologist at North Carolina’s Duke University School of Medicine and senior author of a new study published last week in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The epidemiological study looked at the relative benefits of “bouted” versus sporadic moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) on the mortality of 4,840 people who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003-06.

“Does it matter whether that total physical activity was in bouts or not bouts?” Kraus said. “And we found out it didn’t matter whether it was in bouts or not bouts. It’s the total physical activity that matters.”

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Using Machine Learning and Traffic Cameras to Replace Cops

Thanks!

Mass surveillance is everywhere in modern cities. Cameras are on every corner monitoring all sorts of activities, which led one person to think about using them to see if traffic cameras can be used to replace traffic cops. The short answers is yes. Personally, I don’t see mass surveillance as a good thing but what I find really interesting about this isn’t the policing aspect but the data collection of how streets are used. In the example setup it was found that cars broke the laws quite a lot and endangered the lives of cyclists. Maybe we can use the technology to better understand how streets get used and what we can do to ensure traffic flows.

The Results
During a 10 day period in December 2017,

  • bike lane was blocked 40% of the time (57% weekdays 7am to 7pm)
  • bus stop was blocked 57% of the time (55% weekdays 7am to 7pm)

Keep in mind this is just one average block. This means if you are riding in a bike lane you are swerving blind in and out of the bike lane every other block. And if you are on a bus your commute just got longer.

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