In the cold of winter you might not be thinking of the nice hot summer days as a negative thing. In the winter when temperatures get really low people suffer from hypothermia or worse, whereas in heat they can suffer from heat stroke or worse. When it comes to the heat there’s a nice and simple solution of planting trees.
In urban environments tree coverage can literally save lives by having a minium of 30% of urban space shaded by trees. Not only will the trees reduce heat in their immediate area they will provide cleaners air and a nicer place to be.
We found substantial variation in UHI death rates across European cities. In 2015, Gothenburg in Sweden recorded no premature UHI deaths, while urban heat was responsible for 32 premature deaths per 100,000 people in the Romanian city Cluj-Napoca.
The cities with the highest UHI death rates were in southern and eastern Europe. Most of these cities generally had low tree coverage and recorded the highest UHI effect.
Just 3.3% of Thessaloniki in Greece is covered by trees, resulting in urban temperatures 2.8? higher than the surrounding area. By contrast, 27% of Gothenburg is covered by trees, delivering an UHI effect of just 0.4?.
Overall, southern European cities will benefit most from increasing their tree cover. Our model estimates that Barcelona could reduce its UHI death rate by 60% by meeting the 30% tree coverage target.
Our contemporary financial approach to moving people around a city subsidizes individual automobile use, which leads to more car use and worse mobility for everyone. An easy solution to this problem that’s gaining popularity is to change what mode of transportation get subsidies. The most direct way to stop subsidizing cars is to make public transit truly public by not directly charging for it (and instead charge selfish transport solutions).
The fare-free movement turns that funding model on its head. Advocates believe public transit, like other essential services, should have never been a user-pay system in the first place. After all, we aren’t charged a fee to drive down a city street, walk down a city sidewalk or sit in a city park. Our property taxes pay for those basic amenities.
As Montreal urban planner and social economy expert Jason Price, co-editor of the 2018 book Free Public Transit wrote: “We don’t pay for elevators, do we? And rightly so. The very idea is preposterous. Yet the public transit system plays the same role in the city, only sideways.”
The climate crisis has us questioning where people live, work, and how they get between the two. We’ve known for decades that low density sub-urban living is horrible for the environment (and people’s mental health) because it detaches people from each other due to car-based transportation. Many have argued that skyscrapers are the needed alternative because high density living is good. Architects Declare have released a letter questioning this reasoning, they argue that six stories is the ideal height for people and for the planet. A city of six story buildings is good density, the best example being Paris.
The unavoidable fact is that, in terms of resource efficiency, the embodied carbon in their construction and energy consumption in use, skyscrapers are an absurdity. The amount of steel required to resist high windspeeds, the energy required to pump water hundreds of metres above ground and the amount of floorspace taken up by lifts and services make them one of the most inefficient building types in a modern metropolis. It could also be argued that skyscrapers further detach us from any meaningful relationship with the natural world. Above about ten storeys, balconies don’t work because it is simply too windy, so high-rise apartments are hermetically sealed – as isolated from nature as possible.
Urban places are already good places since they are more environmentally friendly than sub-urban places and have fantastic access to culture. Research in Toronto has revealed that children love cities too. In North America there’s a myth that suburban developments are better for children (despite the reliance on automobiles to do anything), and we need to address that myth. The way the Toronto-based researchers examined this was simply by asking kids what they like, and called it Kidscore.
The KidScore is both an engagement tool and a metric for evaluating the child-friendliness of urban places. It measures what matters
to kids in cities and towns, and was made by kids and experts with the goal of creating happier, healthier urban places for kids.
The objective of the KidScore is to push beyond the kinds of statements typically generated by child engagement processes and consultations, such as, “We want more parks to play in,” or, “We want a safer city.”
Bike lanes not only protect cyclists from negligent drivers, they protect drivers and pedestrians too. A longitudinal study reveals that it’s not the cyclists which make the streets safer, rather it’s the infrastructure that separates cyclists from giant metal slabs that matter. Bike lane only made of paint did nothing to change the dangers of driving; rather, physical barricades protecting people from cars are what make the difference.
It’s simple: protected bike lanes = a safer city.
After analyzing traffic crash data over a 13-year period in areas with separated bike lanes on city streets, researches estimated that having a protected bike facility in a city would result in 44 percent fewer deaths and 50 percent fewer serous injuries than an average city.
In Portland, where the population of bike commuters increased from 1.2 to 7 percent between 1990 and 2015, fatality rates fell 75 percent in the same period. Fatal crash rates dropped 60.6 percent in Seattle, 49.3 percent in San Francisco, 40.3 percent in Denver, and 38.2 percent in Chicago over the same period as cities added more protected and separated lanes as part of their Vision Zero plans.