Moscow and New York City Both Launch Bike Sharing Services

Mayor Bloomberg in New York City has been clear that streets are meant to move people around and not just cars. The efforts the city has made to open up streets to people are working and the most recent push comes from their new bike sharing program.

“I expect to use it most days when it’s not raining,” McGlinn said after his journey, during which passersby flashed him thumbs-ups. “I expect to save money, although that’s not the primary reason why I’m doing it — it’s just nicer.”

New York’s version opened yesterday for people who purchased annual memberships, as most businesses were closed for the Memorial Day holiday. The first of 6,000 Citigroup Inc (C).- sponsored bicycles available from 330 solar-powered docking depots in Manhattan south of 59th Street and in sections of Brooklyn will open to the riding public next week.

Read more at Bloomberg.

In Moscow, they also launched a bike sharing program this past week. Unlike New York, Moscow has not spent the past couple years improving transportation networks so upon announcing the new bicycle program, officials proclaimed their intent to expand infrastructure for safe riding.

Moscow city hall has announced that it will develop a total of 131 kilometres (81 miles) of cycle paths by the end of this year, a small figure compared with other large cities around the world.

“Cycling will develop and in two years maybe it will find a compromise with cars, and drivers will understand that cyclists are also a part of the city,” said rider Vitaly as he sat on a bench next to his newly-rented bike.

The city has promised to widen the network to 120 locations and expand outside the centre by the end of July. The system will close at the end of October ahead of winter.

Read more at Yahoo.

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NYC Mayor Bloomberg Loves Bike Lanes

As Toronto fights smart planning and removes sustainable transportation infrastructure (indeed, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so), New York City Mayor Bloomberg continues to espouse how great bike lanes are. In NYC they have added a lot of miles of bike lanes and found local business get more business, neighbourhoods become nicer, and more people can get around easier than they did before!

With the release by NYC DOT this week of a report showing the economic impact of their street projects, Bloomberg wove the economic case into his speech. “Talk to merchants everywhere we’ve put protected bicycle lanes [and pedestrian plazas]… They will tell you that business is dramatically better than it was before.”

Bloomberg called New York City’s legacy of mega-highway building by former DOT Commissioner Robert Moses a “mistake” because “we bulldozed neighborhoods.”

With the mistakes of the past fading from view, Bloomberg seems to understand the direct link between how streets are used and whether or not a city succeeds. “We’re using the streets in ways they had not been used in a long time,” he said, “Cyclists and pedestrians and bus riders are as important — if not, I would argue more important — than automobile riders.”

While he acknowledged that bike lanes “are always controversial” he defended them by noting that, “more and more people are using them.”

Looking ahead, Bloomberg said he has no plans of letting naysayers or controversies stop the progress. “Transportation… it’s not sexy and it certainly invites controversy,” he said, but added, “We’ve just got to keep developing, keep building, sensibly, with some plans and community involvement; but not stopping.”

As you can probably guess from my recent series of pro-bike lane posts, I am rather embarrassed by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his archaic approach to transit. When he’s out of office we may get to see some good news coming from Toronto again.

Read more here.

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Good Designs to Protect Against Flooding

The damage of Hurricane Sandy is still being fully realized and we won’t know the full cost of the damage for a little while. What we can do for know is to look into ways to lessen the damage the next time an anthropogenically influenced storm hits the city. The Atlantic has put together some previously thought-out plans for preparing New York City for flooding from ideas that are used elsewhere in the world.

As ocean levels rise this will be a more pressing issue for New Yorkers and other cities on coasts.

Here’s what I think will be the easiest for NYC to implement, but I haven’t been there for years so I could be way off.

2. Elevated infrastructure. There are very few buildings in the entire state of New York built at grade at elevations below sea level. But New York City has constructed one massive piece of infrastructure below that threshold: the subway system. As we saw this week, flooding can devastate an underground network of tunnels, train platforms and corridors. So how do you keep more of that water out? For one thing, elevating subway entrances would help. Bangkok, another low-lying city susceptible to rising tides, has built precisely these kinds of subway entrances. They’re raised a meter off the ground and include built-in floodgates.

See the rest of the ideas here.

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In New York City Gay Marriage is Worth $259 Million

You read that correctly, a $259 million (USD) boom in New York City’s economy is thanks to respecting human rights! Changing the law to reflect reality and letting homosexuals marry one another has generated some needed economic growth for the local economy. All of this in just one year!

“Marriage equality has made our City more open, inclusive and free — and it has also helped to create jobs and support our economy,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement.

More than 8,200 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued over the past year, representing more than 10% of the 75,000 licenses issued in the city, according to a survey conducted by the City Clerk’s Office and NYC & Company, the city’s tourism and marketing organization.

Read more at CNN.

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Empire State Building Gets a Green Overall

The Empire State Building in New York has received a green overall that has cut 20% of the building’s energy consumption and will save the owners a ton of cash.

The renovations are part of a $500 million rehab plan for the building. The building’s owners, Malkin Holdings LLC, filed for an initial public offering back in February which valued the building at $2.5 billion.

The changes to the Empire State include:

–Filling the existing windows with an energy saving gas and adding an additional plastic pane.

–Upgrading the building’s cooling system.

–Using computerized “smart” energy management technology that can adjust temperatures floor by floor.

–Provide tenants with detailed energy use in their space.

–Automatically shut off lights in unused areas.

Read more at CNN.

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