August 15, 2018

Late Summer in the City as Gym

By late summer, we’re in shape.

Good weather, longer days, more trips on bikes, more running, more hiking, more walking.

Younger people are literally using the city as a gym.   On the bike routes, cyclists are stronger, moving faster, more in control – and showing off their bodies.  Ironically, even as the air quality worsens, the city is feeling healthier.

And looking good.

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Here’s an interesting take on equity and diversity in  planning places . Simon Fraser University’s Duke of Data Andy Yan sent this cogent article from CityLab  on the thought and philosophy of Richard Sennett at the London School of Economics. Sennett explores the intersection between the complexity of cities and the need to accept the innate diversity of place, and has written about that in his new book Building and Dwelling: Ethics for a City.

And he’s come up with some startling conclusions.

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If you’ve never been to Bogota, Colombia, nor to a Walk21 Conference, here’s your chance.

Walk21 is a global conference series that brings together professionals in planning, engineering and health, as well as engaged citizens, to discuss how to make walking easier, more convenient and comfortable.

This is truly a 21st century conference and has featured ground breaking speakers like Jan Gehl,  Janette Sadik-Khan, and the extraordinary mayor of Bogota Enrique Penalosa.  The conference was in Vancouver in 2011 and you can view the plenary speeches from that conference here. (And if you were wondering whether Enrique is related to Toronto’s Gil Penalosa of 8 to 80 Cities, yes, they are brothers!)

This is the first time that the conference registration has been offered free, and it is a chance to explore Bogota in the “walk shops” and learn from practitioners.

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From the Next-Generation Transportation Webinar Series:

“What gets measured gets managed”, conventional wisdom dictates. In the case of quantifying the benefits of walking, this has often been a reactive and piecemeal process, if done at all.

Join us August 3rd for a deep dive into the business case for walking as Auckland Council’s Darren Davis demonstrates how the city was able to reduce barriers to walkability by choosing the right KPIs.

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We’re seeing more and more examples of cities and neighbourhood groups just getting it done on streets with cans of good latex paint.

There is absolutely no doubt that paint is the most inexpensive way to change the nature of the street, expand pedestrian refuge areas, and make crosswalks more visible for pedestrians and vehicles alike.

In her groundbreaking book Streetfight, Janette Sadik-Khan points out that making infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists makes good economic sense, contributing to the street life in the city. She also argues that everything New York City needed in order to create 60 pedestrian plazas, 180 acres of new public space and 400 miles of bike lanes was all in the city yards — paint, bollards, and cement planters.

That’s why it’s wonderful to see NYC’s examples of paint-and-planters replicated elsewhere.

In Bukchon-Ro in Seoul, a traffic circle was painted in the middle of the street, separating this historic area from a commercial district. Simply painting this image caused vehicles to proceed more slowly and enabled the many pedestrians — visiting local galleries, tea houses and cafes — to cross more safely. Paint established “pedestrian priority streets”, and has helped make the streets more walkable and lively.

The town of Mandan, North Dakota, with a population of 22,000 and located just across the Missouri river from the state capitol of Bismarck, is doing the same thing. City planner John van Dyke got it right by installing three temporary painted traffic circles at intersections, calling it a “demonstration project”, and inviting public response to the changes.

Mandan also added temporary curb extensions using bollards to make a shorter crosswalk distance for pedestrians, with a planned evaluation of the project at the end of August. You can see the reporting of the local news station on the temporary traffic circles here.

images-sandy james &

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To make it easy for people to choose the bicycle as a way to get from “A” to “B”, you start by planning a network; step two is safe and effective infrastructure.

Vancouver’s 10th Avenue corridor spans Victoria Drive in the east to Trafalgar Street in the west, and connects to several north-south bike routes, like busy-busy Ontario, Heather, Cypress and the Arbutus Greenway.

The corridor sees around 500,000 bike trips per year, a good portion of which passes through the hospital precinct between Heather and Oak streets, which now has mostly-completed separated cycling and walking paths.

Here’s a gallery of some of the facility.

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Vancouver is a city with a world-wide reputation for rising mode share for transportation by bicycle and by walking.

More people continue to realize that walking or taking a bike is the easiest and best choice for some of their trips. The person and the city get major health improvement as strong side effects, and this weighs in political decisions.  And Greenways are part of the plan.

Here’s a proposal for the East Van City Greenway, which will join infrastructure like the Central Valley Greenway, 10th Avenue, Union/Adanac and others.  However, it will focus on north-east Vancouver, extending the reach of Greenway infrastructure to yet another part of the city.

The proposal is in the form of a motion sponsored by Mayor Robertson and Councillor Reimer, now on the agenda for the July 10 council meeting, starting at 0930.

The north-east part of Vancouver currently has cycling mode share of 8-13%, and walking 17-29%, despite infrastructure being limited. A Greenway would likely increase mode share for both, and promote healthy living through active transportation and increased opportunity for social interaction.

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