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Sarah Goodyear's Posts

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Great places: how livable streets make us happier humans

This post follows up on David Roberts' series on "great places." I found out yesterday that one of my neighbors, a lady in her 70s, had been taken to the hospital with heart problems. Her middle-aged daughter, who lives with her, was the one who told me, when we met on the stretch of sidewalk between our two houses. We often stop to chat like this, trading news and gossip and small talk. I expressed my concern and asked if there was anything that I could do. The daughter thanked me, and said she would pass along my well-wishes. Later, …

Read more: Cities, Urbanism

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In London, bike commuters now the majority in some places

Cyclists stream along a London street.Photo: ibikelondonIn London, bicycles are gaining ground as a mode of transportation. And as in New York, the uptick in cyclists is exposing some uncomfortable divisions, stereotypes, and backlash. If there is a transportation sea change happening here -- and it looks like there might be -- it is not going to come without some angst. Bike riders, drivers, and pedestrians are all going to have to adjust both their attitudes and their behavior. According to the blog Cyclists in the City (that's "The City," as in London's version of Wall Street), the latest figures …

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Make cities, not war

Give it a chance.Photo: Patrick HillOutgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates used a chilling term over the weekend when discussing the multiple conflicts the United States is involved in: "wars of choice": "When I took this job, the United States was fighting two very difficult, very costly wars," Mr. Gates said. "And it has seemed to me: Let's get this business wrapped up before we go looking for more opportunities." "If we were about to be attacked or had been attacked or something happened that threatened a vital U.S. national interest, I would be the first in line to say, …

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Older Americans could be stranded without better transit

It's not just a bus. It can mean freedom, connection, and independence.Photo: Lynn FriedmanEarlier this week, Transportation for America released a report called "Aging in Place: Stuck Without Options." It looks at how as the enormous baby boom generation gets older -- the way all of us do, until we die, that is -- access to transit is going to be a bigger and bigger problem. Most people these days, the report points out, want to get old where they are currently living rather than move to a retirement community. "Aging in place" is what the demographers call it. But …

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A virtual vacation: Stroll the world with Robot Flâneur

Robot Flâneur strolls the streets of Mexico CityPhoto: Google Street View via Robot Flâneur I went to Johannesburg this morning and walked around a bit. Just taking in the sights. Then I spent a little time in Mexico City. No, of course, I didn't do these things. I was at my desk like a good worker bee (sigh). But thanks to a very cool new site called Robot Flâneur, designed by a fellow in London named James Bridle, I was able to get a glimpse of the street life in these and six other cities, including Tokyo and Berlin. A …

Read more: Cities

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Repairing our broken cities by transforming infrastructure

A few blocks from where I live in Brooklyn looms the Gowanus Expressway, part of the urban interstate building boom of the 1950s that gutted so many American cities. Crossing underneath its moldering hulk is intimidating and depressing. No one likes to do it. Carroll Gardens, the neighborhood to the north of the expressway, is doing well, with new residential and retail development creeping right up to the edge of its shadow (although I'm not optimistic about the day spa someone just opened a half block away) But to the south, in Red Hook, the devastation in the immediate vicinity …

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As suburban office parks lose steam, Apple unveils the ultimate example

Back to the future in the Apple spaceship.Screenshot: Apple via YouTube The old-school suburban office park seems to be having a midlife crisis. A special report in Crain's about Chicago-area businesses such as Sears, AT&T, and Sara Lee looking to relocate from the suburbs to the urban core -- along with the news that Swiss megabank UBS may be abandoning Stamford, Conn., to move back to Manhattan -- has prompted a flurry of responses around the urbanist blogoverse. Meanwhile, two of the American companies nearly universally hailed as forward-thinking -- Facebook and Apple -- are betting their futures on super-fancy …

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Getting their fair share: The rise of the barter market [VIDEO]

Barter markets -- where people bring stuff they don't want and exchange it for stuff that other people don't want -- are like urban sustainability Swiss Army knives. It's amazing how many things they can do. They reduce the amount of expensive new crap people buy. They help folks clean out unwanted junk from their homes and keep it out of the waste stream. They create a lively public space. And they build community. The only barter market I know of in the United States, the Really Really Free Market in the East Village (now defunct), was organized by anarchists, …

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An Indian boom city grows without planning, at its peril

In Gurgaon, gleaming residences, malls, and office buildings are like islands unto themselves.Photo: iamgurgaonYou hear a lot of people talking these days about small government. About letting the free market drive development. About how city planners are trying to do some kind of sinister social engineering. About how the feds and the states should just stay out of the way and let business do its thing, and the economy would take off. So what would that look like? Well, it might look something like Gurgaon, India, a booming suburb about 15 miles from New Delhi that has flourished economically over …

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Mark Ruffalo wants you to stand up to hydrofracking

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who lives in a rural New York town on the Delaware River with his family, is not one of those celebrities who parachutes into a random political cause and starts ignorantly pontificating about solutions. He has been actively involved with efforts to keep potentially disastrous hydrofracking practices out of New York State for three years, and he knows his stuff. He's even co-founded his own initiative on water quality, Water Defense. Now Ruffalo has banded together with some other famous friends, including Ethan Hawke and Zoe Saldana, to make a new video, "I Love My New York …