A Good City is Only 5 Minutes Away

Intersection

Paris is showing the world the future (their present) of good urban design, and it’s all about 15 minutes. We’ve looked at this concept before, and every year Paris pushes us further. The city has already reduced their reliance on automobiles and increased mobility for the entire populace. They’ve added green space and now since the pandemic hit they’ve accelerated their plans to make the entire city a good place to live. The core concept for all of this is that everything a person needs should be a 15 minute walk from their house.

“We know sometimes large cities can be tiring and can create a sense of anonymity,” says Rolland. “But proximity means that we will, through our social links, rediscover our way of living in cities. We want open spaces, but ones for doing nothing in particular, where people can meet each other or encounters can happen as much as possible. We live better when we live together, and this will rework our social fabric.”

The transformation of neighbourhoods has been well underway since Hidalgo took office in 2014, with the Paris mayor banning high-polluting vehicles, restricting the quays of the Seine to pedestrians and cyclists, and creating mini green spaces across the city – since 2018, more than 40 Parisian school grounds have been transformed into green “oasis yards”. More than 50km of bike routes known as “coronapistes” have also been added since the pandemic struck and last month renovation of the Place de la Bastille was completed as part of a €30m redesign of seven major squares. Hidalgo has pledged a further €1bn euros ($1.2bn, £916m) per year for the maintenance and beautification of streets, squares and gardens.

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How Pandemic Life is Changing Transportation for the Better

Traffic is the worst and when people start to regularly work from offices we are bound to see an abundance of traffic. Nobody wants this, yet for the last century we’ve been building our cities and suburbs to cause traffic instead of alleviating it. This past year as the need for outdoor space in cities has increased we’ve seen cities reimagine our streets (not in Toronto though, but elsewhere). People are seeing the benefits of designing cities for people who live there instead of designing for car domination of the public realm.

What about traffic though? Inevitably we’ll need to get around again in the future. This is the next step. Most people don’t need a car (they just think they do) for most of their trips, let’s give people multiple options to get around instead of just one!

Micromobility technology, by contrast, is evolving as fast as fruit flies. As Anthony Townsend notes in Ghost Road, the dockless bike operator LimeBike “put no fewer than nine versions of its flagship bike into service during its first year and a half of operation,” while scooter company VeoRide, he notes, can transform a new idea into “on-street hardware in 15 days.”

And yet for all the flurry of micromobility activity, the state of macromobility—which in the US means the car—has changed little, and in some ways is going backward. “The curb weight [of vehicles] is higher than it’s ever been, and these are the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade,” says Greg Lindsay, director of applied research at New Cities, an urbanist think tank. “The OEMs—who don’t seem to be particularly financially healthy—have basically hooked the earth on these extremely expensive vehicles. It’s like the SUV boom has happened against the backdrop of this supposed mobility revolution.”

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Britain Bans Fossil Fuel Cars Starting in 2030

The United Kingdom is taking a step towards a green future by announcing that diesel and gas powered cars won’t be allowed in the country starting in 2030. Older cars will still be allowed, but three will be a ban on any new cars sales that aren’t friendlier to the environment. With any luck, the “need” for cars throughout the country will decrease due to increase transit and better urban design,

Let’s hope that more countries follow the lead of the UK and ban theses pollution machines!

“Now is the time to plan for a green recovery with high-skilled jobs that give people the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to make the country cleaner, greener and more beautiful,” Johnson said in a column published in the Financial Times on Tuesday.

Britain last year became the first G7 country to set in law a net zero emission target by 2050, which will require wholesale changes in the way Britons travel, use energy and eat.

The new date for a ban on new petrol and diesel cars is five years earlier than the 2035 pledge made by Johnson in February.

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Thanks to Dan!

Wheelmap Helps People Find Accessible Locations

Navigating the world can be challenging for able-bodied people, those in wheelchairs have it even harder. It doesn’t have to be this way. New buildings have to meet certain accessibility requirements which means that visiting places will only get easier for everyone. There are still places that don’t have good accessibility and for that there’s Wheelmap.

Wheelmap is a community sourced map that shows what places are accessible and even goes into fine details with pictures of the place including the accessibility of interior facilities.

Wheelchairs, elevators and ramps allow people with mobility impairments to get around independently to a great extent. But frequently the last meters decide whether the trip to the cinema, beer garden or supermarket was worth the effort. Just one step at the entrance can be an insurmountable obstacle.

And this is where Wheelmap comes into play: Users provide information for other users on how accessible a location is. Thereby, the map contributes to an active and diversified lifestyle for wheelchair users. People with wheeled walkers or buggies benefit from this tool as well.

Furthermore, the aim of Wheelmap is to make owners of wheelchair-inaccessible public places aware of the problem. They should be encouraged to reflect on and improve the accessibility of their premises.

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Weather Doesn’t Matter Where There’s Good Bicycling Infrastructure

a couple, bicycles

People opposed to multiple transit solutions often argue that it’s not worth building bicycle lanes because nobody rides in the rain. They couldn’t be more wrong. A new study from Germany looked into the use of bikes during poor weather and found that places with good bicycling infrastructure had more cyclists during when it rains compared to cities without safe roads. Now we have scientific evidence that building bike lanes keep people on their bikes, so let’s build more of it!

Between cities and regions, not only cycling levels differ, but also the reactions of cyclists to adverse weather conditions. Using data from 122 automated bicycle counting stations in 30 German cities, and a composite index of adverse weather conditions that consists of air temperature, precipitation, wind speed, relative humidity, and cloud coverage, we calculate city-specific weather elasticities of the level of utilitarian cycling. The results show that these weather elasticities vary significantly between cities. Our next step is to analyze various determinants of weather elasticities, which reveals that the share of young inhabitants and the density of the cycle network have a positive impact on weather resilience. Based on the notion that resilience to adverse weather conditions reflects a revealed part of a city’s bicycle culture, the weather elasticities can be used to create a ranking of bicycle cities. This ranking is positively correlated with a ranking based on the modal share of cycling, as well as with other rankings based on stated preference surveys or external conditions such as infrastructure or cycling safety.

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