Archive for the ‘transportation’ Tag

Video on New Urbanism Neighborhoods

Take a bit of time to watch this video made by the Congress for New Urbanism. It explains why America has become so suburbanized and car obsessed. Building codes generally forbid building mixed used development as a way to avoid “the hassles of city life.” Having building codes where only one type of zone (such as commercial or residential) separates these different types of areas from being integrated together. In my mind the stratification caused by consistent one-type zoning is similar to the Jim Crow laws- a regression and obstacle for integration and social equity.

This video puts a lot of emphasis on low carbon emission neighborhoods, and I believe they are targeting the wrong characteristics and benefits of New Urbanism. Yes, low carbon is good but it likely isn’t a primary deciding factor of most Americans. Americans would rather live in somewhere exciting- a place that is unique in its own right. Some people might like where they live because it’s a small town. Others might like where they live because they have little space to maintain, or a lot of space for a large house with a large backyard and pool. Economists have always said you cannot explain preferences of people, so urban planners need to account for the different living styles some prefer. This is the greatest challenge for planners. At the same time very few Americans have lived in a planned New Urbanist/ Old Urbanist/ Traditional Neighborhood style environment, and have yet to decide if it is good or not, only the connotation formed by their previous experiences. Hopefully some of these videos will change some minds.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, VERTICES LLC

For additional information on New Urbanism, check out www.newurbanism.org

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San Francisco Great Streets Project

Enrique Peñalosa is at it again- in San Francisco this time. Peñalosa set out as mayor of Bogota, Columbia and drastically improved the city from the slums it had once been. His ways of improving the city were to curb car use, promote transit and cycling, and increase public space. San Francisco has attracted Peñalosa to promote their campaign: the Great Streets Project. The goal of the project is to promote “a successful network of places will return our city’s streets to their rightful place as the center of civic life, making our city a great place to live, do business and visit.”

A street in Bogota that benefited from Penalosa's policies, where the sidewalks became more pedestrian friendly and attractive

A street in Bogota that benefited from Penalosa's policies, where the sidewalks became more pedestrian friendly and attractive

Tonight Peñalosa will speak in San Francisco about creating this vision and putting it into practice.It was mark the launch of the Great Streets Project.

“Valet bicycle parking provided,” according to the website, http://sfgreatstreets.wordpress.com/.

Campaigns like this are slowly changing the way we live by reducing our dependence on oil (both domestic and foreign), improving the environment (air quality, oil runoff in sewers, built and social environments in public spaces), and reducing overall costs while further promoting the local economy.

More than sidewalks or bicycle paths, we built symbols of equality and respect for human dignity. – Enrique Peñalosa

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC

HUD, DOT, and EPA Finally Join Together

A testament to poorly coordinated transportation

A testament to poorly coordinated transportation

Yesterday evening it was announced that Housing and Urban Development (HUD), The Department of Transportation (DOT), and The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have all joined together to create a new age in American planning. The goal of the joint venture is to “improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide,” according to a press release from the EPA. There are six stated goals of the coalition:

  1. Provide more transportation choices
  2. Promote equitable, affordable housing
  3. Enhance economic competitiveness
  4. Support existing communities
  5. Coordinate policies and leverage investment
  6. Value communities and neighborhoods

Clearly it makes sense that HUD and DOT were already together from earlier this year- all housing should have adequate access to transportation, whether it is by car or by public transit. But using the two agencies coordinating together may mean that our public transportation may still have a future. Just a little common sense and reasoning will show that if you have very few people over a long distance, public transit is due to fail. However, if housing is created in denser forms, there will now be more of demand in a smaller area, creating light for a better transportation system.

The last part of the picture may be the EPA. The EPA will back preserving agricultural and untouched environments, minimizing the impact of humans on the land through coordinated planning between the 3 agencies. In theory, no longer will important features (such as swamps which serve as sinks for potentially harmful substances in water) go overlooked without the whole coalition approving.

Coordinating landuse, transportation, and environment has already been implemented in a lot of Europe.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC

The press release can be found at:

http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/f500561fbb8d5a08852575d700501350?OpenDocument