Yes in my Backyard!

Berlin

For too long cities have been plagued by NIMBYism – people who chant not in my backyard. People who oppose change have held back communities for too long and now people are shouting yes in my backyard – YIMBY. In Toronto the rise of this movement has led to annual event called YIMBY Toronto. The movement is international though and it’s primarily driven by people who have been negatively impacted by previous generations’ poor urban design choices. A whole generation is taking a negative and making it a positive.

The movement is fuelled by the anger of young adults from the millennial generation, many of whom are now in their late 20s and early 30s. Rather than suffer in silence as they struggle to find affordable places to live, they are heading to planning meetings en masse to argue for more housing – preferably the very kind of dense, urban infill projects that have often generated neighbourhood opposition from nimbys (“not in my back yard”).

Read more.

Living Off the Grid in a Major City

Most people think living off the grid means living the countryside with your own well, reenable energy, and food source. The truth is that style of off the grid requires massive space to work (for example, a well needs a large area to collect water from), so that rural off the grid doesn’t work for everyone.

What is a person living in the city to do to get off the grid though?

Back in the 90s there was a competition throughout Canada to figure that out. One winner is still living in his house that is off the grid in Toronto.

“We promised to make the house self-sufficient and not use any non-renewable fuel,” Paloheimo said.

“Despite the home’s high-tech appearance, most of the products and systems are simple and straightforward,” said Chris Ives, CMHC project manager, said in a Toronto Healthy House report published after the house was built.

“Off-grid houses do not necessarily require hours of labour for upkeep. In fact, everything in the house is easy to maintain and available in today’s marketplace.”

Read more.

Making the Most of Urban Laneways

Montreal
Many western cities have laneways that originally were used for deliveries via horses and cart; today those laneways are under utilized. These laneways cannot always be used for housing or other normal city needs due to their limited size. They can, however, be converted to enjoyable public space. Today there’s a trend amongst some cities like Montreal, Melbourne, and now Toronto to make their laneways into enjoyable little environments.

In this context, laneways can play a role both environmentally and socially. The Laneway Project has produced a guide to greening laneways, which outlines several strategies to introduce plants of all shapes and sizes between garages or behind stores.

From an environmental perspective, small changes to laneways can enhance biodiversity and reduce the urban heat island effect. Representing approximately 200,000 square metres of paved surfaces, laneways can also be adapted to improve storm water management. Senayah describes the Laneway Project’s puncture demonstration as “a meter-wide ribbon of green.” The permeable pavers not only reduce runoff but also add playful patterns to areas that are often overlooked.

Read more.

Bike Lanes are Good for Everybody

Urban

Bike lanes are amazing! They give users of the roads an area which protects emission-free bicycle riding. They bring local business lots of profits and they improve towns. Bike lanes are almost a panacea to the plight of current urban planning in North America. Indeed, bike lanes are even great for car drivers – the very class of road users that usually throw shade on bicycling.

Myriad factors contribute to livability but I can tell you from experience one of the things that makes a city great, is the ability to get around without driving. Walking streets, promenades, bike paths and great public transportation create a healthier, more active, more affordable and environmentally friendly city for everyone.

In cities such as Adelaide, Copenhagen and Amsterdam a focus on providing safer and more efficient solutions for pedestrians and cyclists has lead to their cities being heralded for happiness and quality of life.

Another reason I’m a fan of bike lanes as a driver is because I’m afraid of hitting one, and bike lanes provide a clear boundary between where my car should be, and where my friends on two wheels should be.

Read more.

Bike Share Parking More Efficient Than Car Parking

Bike share programs have taken the world by storm, more cities than ever before are using bike sharing systems as part of their transit solutions. Bike sharing allows for a mixture of bicycle rides mixed with mass transit. The popularity of bike sharing amongst commuters is also on the rise, to capture how popular the system is one enterprising individual set up a camera right beside a bike sharing station in New York. Notice how many people are utilizing the bike share parking versus the cars that stay stationary.

Luke Ohlson recently recorded the mad rush in time lapse at 5 p.m. on a weekday to make a point about transit in New York. “Parking takes up 150,000 acres of New York City street space, yet a majority of New Yorkers do not drive or use cars,” says Ohlson, a senior organizer at Transportation Alternatives, an activist group that promotes biking, walking, and public transit. “If we use some of the public space that is currently allocated to parking differently, the whole neighborhood can benefit.”

Read more