June 24, 2007

David Byrne Finds Freedom in New York

David Byrne, lead singer of Talking Heads, has been riding a bike in New York City for thirty years.  Quote: Even if freedom is an illusion the physical sensation of riding does a pretty good job of making it seem attainable for a moment.
Thanks to Paul Kreuger for this link to his blog, and the New York cycling experience.

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Hendonics is  the economics of happiness.  Bogota is in Colombia, the Mayor used to be Enrique Peñalosa, and Charles Montgomery has written a story in the Globe and Mail about him and it.

So what makes societies happy? The past decade has seen an explosion in research aiming to answer that question, and there’s good news for people in places like Bogota: Feelings of well-being are determined as much by status and social connectedness as by income. Richer people are happier than poor people, but societies with wider income gaps are less happy on the whole. People who interact more with friends, family and neighbours are happier than those who don’t.
And what makes people most unhappy? Not work, but commuting to work.

People who read this blog are probably familiar with Penalosa’s reputation and work.

“I realized that we in the Third World are not going to catch up to the developed countries for two or three hundred years,” he recalls. “If we defined our success just in terms of income per capita, we would have to accept ourselves as second- or third-rate societies – as a bunch of losers – which is not exactly enticing for our young people. So we are forced to find another measure of success. I think the only real obvious measure of success is happiness.”

Montgomery explains in fascinating detail how Bogota was saved from freeways, what they did instead, and how it all relates to Vancouver and Canadian cities.
Check it out.

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“City of Bikes”?  Well, more than usual: It’s Bike to Work Week.

Bike to Work Week starts tomorrow! The forecast is for sunshine for the week – a fabulous time to start biking to work, if you haven’t tried it yet. The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (with the help of our many sponsors, supporters, and volunteers) are setting up “commuter stations” at various locations throughout the Lower Mainland this week to support, appreciate, and encourage those who choose to bike to work. Stations provide free food and drinks, bike mechanics and the opportunity to win prizes (and maybe be on TV).
You can find the map with the stations and times of operation by clicking here

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Globe architecture critic Lisa Rochon profiles Vancouver developer Ian Gillespie here.   
(You’d think that by now the hometown Sun would be embarrassed that Toronto’s newspaper is doing a better job of covering the built environment of Vancouver than they are.)
Rochon’s column profiles Gillespie’s projects from Shangri-La to Woodward’s, and makes this fascinating observation about the latter:

The vision is monumental, but I admit to being a little fixated on one clever design detail: the bike rack that (architect Gregory) Henriquez has squeezed into the front hall of the tiny units for people on social assistance. “For these people, the bike is really an important part of their lives and their livelihood. They’re not going to park it out on the street.
“They’re going to bring it inside their apartment, so we designed a rack for that purpose.” That insight speaks to the years that Henriquez has poured into the project, meeting with squatters and housing activists for countless consultations, and pushing his practice into the vanguard of architecture with a conscience.

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From the Washington Post

On July 15, the day after Bastille Day, Parisians will wake up to discover thousands of low-cost rental bikes at hundreds of high-tech bicycle stations scattered throughout the city, an ambitious program to cut traffic, reduce pollution, improve parking and enhance the city’s image as a greener, quieter, more relaxed place.
By the end of the year, organizers and city officials say, there should be 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations — or about one station every 250 yards across the entire city. Based on experience elsewhere — particularly in Lyon, France’s third-largest city, which launched a similar system two years ago — regular users of the bikes will ride them almost for free.

For more, click here.

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Back from Australia (much more on that later), but to get things rolling again, here’s an item from my Inbox by way of  Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing:

Toronto councillor: dead cyclists have themselves to blame!
Joey “AccordionGuy” deVilla reports on the single dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of an elected city official saying. Toronto councillor Rob Ford told the Toronto Star: “I can’t support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”
Joey highlights a comment from the Raise the Hammer blog,
Ford is an idiot, there’s no defending that, but he highlights a common problem among City Councilors:
. he does a great job at meeting his constituent’s needs. A recent Star article highlighted a day with Councilor Ford which found him working 12 hours, and visiting constituent’s homes personally, along with various city staffers, to address their complaints directly. Now that’s service. He is also ethically astute and regularly files the lowest expense reports of all Toronto Councilors. But:
b. he has a complete lack of understanding of how to build and manage a livable city. His ignorance is truly astounding.
I don’t know if a) is true, but b) is clearly demonstrated.

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