What do LA Freeways and the Lewis and Clark Expedition have in Common? Why do Science and Numbers Matter?
By Robert Orr, Master of Coworking New Haven @ The Bourse
On Los Angeles freeways as in the far reaches of the Louisiana Purchase “explorers” are quickly daunted by a sense that there’s no discernible order. All pathways and landmarks defy logic or categorization. But Angelenos and Lewis and Clark prescribe order from chaos through the use of numbers. For Angelenos it’s Freeway numbers, for Lewis and Clark it’s longitudes, latitudes, and temperatures.
But these numbers are not so much scientific determinants as they are circumscribing nomenclature. Just as aboriginals develop complex naming systems to organize the complexities of nature within their imaginations, as documented by Claude Lévi-Strauss in his The Savage Mind, the mapping numbers of freeways and river routes render instant visualization nomenclature … Read More »
A boulevard runs through it: the Queens Quay remake
Reposted from The Toronto Star
Written by Christopher Hume
An artist’s conception of the planned remake of Queens Quay, which will include a broad pedestrian/cycling boulevard along the south side, facing the water.
After an absence of decades, the boulevard is coming back to Toronto. Despite long ago having fallen from favour among North American city planners and traffic engineers, the multi-lane, multi-use, tree-lined avenue will soon return to our fair burg.
For this, we have to thank Waterfront Toronto, the tripartite agency that has emerged as one of the main proponents of urban thinking in this city. On Friday, WT will break ground on the transformation of Queens Quay. What’s now a messy and dyfunctional downtown thoroughfare will become an elegant street shared equally by cars, public transit, pedestrians, cyclists — and trees.
The remake of Queens … Read More »
How to Survive Societal Collapse in Suburbia, the Next Apocalypse.
Reposted from the New York Times Magazine, written by KEITH O’BRIEN
Published: November 16, 2012
On a clear morning in May, Ron Douglas left his home in exurban Denver, eased into his Toyota pickup truck and drove to a business meeting at a Starbucks. Douglas, a bearded bear of a man, ordered a venti double-chocolate-chip Frappuccino — “the girliest drink ever,” he called it — and then sat down to discuss the future of the growing survivalist industry.
Many so-called survivalists would take pride in keeping far away from places that sell espresso drinks. But Douglas, a 38-year-old entrepreneur and founder of one of the largest preparedness expos in the country, isn’t your typical prepper.
At that morning’s meeting, a strategy session with two new colleagues, Douglas made it clear that he doesn’t even like the … Read More »
Take a Walk on the Fun Side
Reposted from Shareable: Cities By Jay Walljasper
Taking an evening stroll in Austin, Texas. Photo by atmx under a Creative Commons license.
We all know that walking is good for us. It sheds calories, tones muscles, and clears our minds.
But taking a regular walk also reminds us of what we share in common with others. The classic example are the warm weather countries where an after-dinner stroll—the passegiata in Italy, the paseo in Spain and Latin America, the volta in Greece—is as much a part of the culture as sunshine or siestas. In towns and even large cities, people amble around the same set of streets each evening. The shops are usually closed so the purpose is not shopping and errands, but to connect with their neighbors and enjoy their surroundings.
Writer Adam Goodheart described this scene near the main square of … Read More »
By Robert Orr
With all the hysteria surrounding gas prices in California, with all the fine-tuning techies gathering to enable a car-dependent culture gasping for huge-tuning measures, and with ever bigger whacks at annual income by transportation costs, something’s not working. Perhaps it’s time to step back a second and take stock.
Our last brush with gas price hysteria wasn’t so far back. Rising gas prices slammed the door on the roaring 1990s and rekindled a 1974-style hysteria that sent people stampeding for gas-sipping cars and home insulation products. Though less pronounced, 2012 behaviors revisit the ’90s as prices saunter by the old $4.50 peak.
But the ’90s hoopla poofed away quicker than fumes at the pump as gas prices inexplicably dropped. And though the fortunes of GM and Chrysler certainly went haywire, the fact remains that the popularity of pick-ups and SUVs regained much … Read More »
Bourse Note: Every day in the Thai province of Samut Songkhram, about 43 miles southwest of Bangkok, the unique Mae Klong market is held whose vendors need feet as quick as their minds. Why? Because much of the market is located directly on a set of operational railway tracks. Eight times daily, a train runs through without care for stopping, sending vendors and visitors to action stations before business as usual resumes. It works like a charm, even though it may raise a few US regulator eyebrows. Check it out:
by James Clark
One of the more interesting train journeys I’ve had is riding through the Maeklong market railway in Thailand.
Even if you’ve never heard of the town, you’ve probably seen a youtube video of a train going through a tightly packed market, where market stalls are set up on the rails. The train … Read More »
Reposted from Co.Exist
by Ariel Schwartz
Bike sharing systems have traditionally been a point-to-point system: You can only drop your bike off at specific locations. ViaCycle uses a phone-controlled lock, so that you can leave it anywhere.
If you live in certain parts of the world, like France, Spain, China, Italy, or Germany, you already are familiar with the joys of having an extensive bike-sharing system readily available. North America is slowly catching on, with cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York City gradually rolling out bike-share systems. The problem is that it can be expensive to set up large bike-sharing operation–the popular station-based kiosk infrastructures used by many cities aren’t cheap.
ViaCycle, a Y Combinator-backed bikesharing startup, has a potential solution: high-tech bikes that be locked, unlocked, and located with a smartphone. A system on the back of ViaCycle bikes, including a … Read More »
Reposted from Race, Poverty & the Environment
By Greg LeRoy
There are many reasons why public transportation and transit-oriented development should be made priorities for all metropolitan areas. For one, public transportation is the most effective way to reduce tailpipe emissions in this country. For another, the cost of owning an automobile rivals the cost of housing for low-income families. But most importantly, building transit systems creates more jobs than building roads, not to mention the fact that denser development along transit routes seems to create more jobs than the alternative, which is sprawl.
Two long-running community-labor campaigns—in Denver, Colorado and the Twin Cities area of Minnesota—provide excellent organizing models for new public transit, transit oriented development (TOD), and the creation of good jobs.
Denver Organizes for Transit Funding and Equity
In 2003, Colorado labor leaders met privately with environmentalists to seek common ground. Relations were … Read More »
The newest version of SimCity is introducing complex models about things like energy, health care, and transportation. But don’t worry, you can still destroy your city with an asteroid:
The New SimCity Will Turn You Into An Urban Planning Nut
Reposted from Co-Exist
by Ariel Schwartz
SimCity, a city-building simulation series that was first released in 1989, has always been a virtual sandbox for aspiring urban planners, with a seemingly endless array of options–you could lay down roads; zone houses, industrial complexes, and commercial real estate; put up nuclear power plants; adjust taxation; and more. In the end, you could destroy your whole empire with a UFO or a well-placed asteroid strike. The newest version of SimCity, set to be released in February 2013, retains most of the game’s previous elements (including its addictive quality) while bringing a whole new level of complexity to … Read More »
By ROBERT ORR | OTHER OPINION The Hartford Courant5:14 p.m. EDT, August 22, 2012
I travel by rail frequently, mostly because flying has become so unappealing.
I have a GPS speedometer on my cell phone and note with surprise how often the train travels at speeds at or above 130 mph. These are standard trains, not the Acela. I’ve tested the GPS speedometer in my car (not at 130 mph!) where it registers pretty close to what the dashboard speedometer reads, so I believe the 130 MPH reading is accurate.
Nonetheless, the trip from New York to Chicago takes 19 hours. The distance is 960 miles, meaning the average speed is 50 mph. If the train could get closer to its capabilities (and I mean current capabilities with no enhancements) the Chicago schedule would be more like the time it takes between New Haven and Washington … Read More »