Bike Lanes are Really Good for Businesses (seriously, there are too many studies proving this)

Bike lanes are good for business and everybody knows it, except for business owners and local politicians afraid for of small minded businesses. Over at Business Insider they’re running an article that summarizes the current knowledge about bike lanes and how good they are. Like anything, there are winners and losers when it comes to change in the built environment and it’s clear some stores do better than others. The key thin is no business regrets having bike lanes once they are in. Yes, bike lanes are good for business.

The most effective way to deal with opposition from local businesses is to just get the bike lanes built. Before-and-after surveys tend to show that in the long run, everyone winds up satisfied. “It’s a political question, and oftentimes it’s a very divided community when it comes to these types of projects,” Poirier says. “But once a street is changed, generally speaking, after six months or a year, nobody remembers what it used to look like. It’s the new normal.” All the data in the world may prove that bike lanes are good for business. But nothing beats experiencing them.

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Cool Cities Have Botanical Gardens

If you live near a park you know that even a small amount of nature can cool the local environment, and you know that the bigger the park the more cool it is. In terms of a land-to-cooling-effect ratio certain types of parks are more efficient than others with the clear winner being a botanical garden. A simple playground with some trees can cool the local area by 2.9 degrees, a green roof can cool areas by 4.1 degrees, botanical gardens reduce outdoor temperature by 4.9 degrees! Any natural spaces can cool your neighbourhood so this summer get out there, plant some plants, and make your city a cooler place.

From a pool of more than 27,000 research papers, the researchers selected 202 for meta-analysis based on a number of urban green-blue-grey infrastructure categories – including parks, engineered greening projects, wetlands, green walls, parks and botanical gardens.

Trees and plants, for example, help reduce heat by reducing the amount of direct sunlight reaching the ground, while also releasing moisture into the air. Water bodies cool the surrounding environment via “evapotranspiration, shading, the albedo effect, groundwater recharge and temperature buffering” and could also serve as heatsinks, cooling during daylight hours and offering warming potential at night. Green roofs and walls not only help insulate buildings, but also reduce heat absorption, and vegetation can serve as windbreaks for natural ventilation.

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Paris Triples Parking Fees for SUVs

Paris is undergoing a transportation revolution that champions the movement of people over the movement of vehicles and the most recent change was put to the people of the city. Citizens of Paris have voted to triple parking fees for heavy, road destroying, SUVs that take up more space than comparable vehicles. The increase in fees makes sense due to the harm caused by the large machines in urban settings. Hopefully other cities will copy Paris and make road users pay for the share of the road they consume.

City hall has further pointed to safety concerns about taller, heavier SUVs, which it says are “twice as deadly for pedestrians as a standard car” in an accident. The vehicles are also singled out for taking up more public space – whether on the road or while parked – than others. Paris officials say the average car has put on 250 kilograms (550 pounds) since 1990. Hidalgo, whose city will host the 2024 Olympics this summer, rarely misses a chance to boast of the environmental credentials of the town hall and its drive to drastically reduce car use in the center.

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How Rotterdam Uses Water to Protect Itself from Flooding

As global warming melts the polar ice caps we are witnessing a human caused increase in sea level. The city of Rotterdam is on the front lines of holding back this tidal increase and they have designed some nifty ways to protect the people that live in the city from the encroaching waves. They are using a rive that flow through the city to act as a giant sponge to absorb any influx of water from storms, this will contain and slow the water from entering parts of the city with lots of people or commerce. It’s a nature-friendly way to deal with a human caused problem.

A €2.3bn “Room for the River” project – making floodplains at more than 30 locations on four rivers – is credited with saving the country from the worst flooding this year. The national delta programme is investing in action to guard until 2050, and a multi-billion euro flood protection programme (HWPB) involves 100 projects to strengthen kilometres of dykes, without which, says Rijkswaterstaat infrastructure organisation, 60% of the country would regularly be under water.

But in cities, too, water protection must meet urban design to create an attractive, adaptive city, says Arnoud Molenaar, Rotterdam’s chief resilience officer. A vast amount of work has been going on, and the city has built water squares, green and blue roofs and a 2km-long railway viaduct rooftop park. The water squares, also designed by De Urbanisten, are, very simply, built in overflow areas – when there is too much rainwater they fill up, and then slowly drain away so that the storm drains are not overwhelmed. And when the water has gone, they become public spaces again.

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Johns Hopkins: Narrow Lanes Save Lives

Johns Hopkins has reached a conclusion: to protect lives we need to narrow lives. Cars kill. Cars (and the people driving them) are more likely to cause death when they move fast and wide lanes encourage speeding. A logical step to curb reckless driving by car drivers is to limit the space they have to drive cars, and make the space they drive in more interesting. By narrowing lanes there are many benefits to be had by society at large. It’s good to see an institution like Johns Hopkins has figure out that car focussed design is not a good thing – streets are for people.

  • Narrower lanes did not increase the risk of accidents. When comparing 9- and 11-foot lanes, we found no evidence of increased car crashes. Yet, increasing to 12-foot lanes did increase the risk of crashes, most likely due to drivers increasing their speed and driving more carelessly when they have room to make mistakes.
  • Speed limit plays a key role in travel width safety. In lanes at 20-25 mph speeds, lane width did not affect safety. However, in lanes at 30-35 mph speeds, wider lanes resulted in significantly higher number of crashes than 9-foot lanes.
  • Narrower lanes help address critical environmental issues. They accommodate more users in less space, use less asphalt pavement, with less land consumption and smaller impervious surface areas.
  • Narrowing travel lanes could positively impact the economy. This includes raising property values, boosting business operation along streets and developing new design projects.

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