Cities

Infrastructure

11 U.S. cities honored as ‘walk-friendly': Seattle ranks first

Seattle got the “platinum” ranking for its efforts to make the city more walkable.Photo: chrissudermanCross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. After evaluating applicant communities in several categories related to walking — including safety, mobility, access, and comfort — the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) last week announced the selection of 11 Walk Friendly Communities across the U.S. They are ranked in categories of achievement, as follows: Platinum Level Seattle, Wash. Gold Level Ann Arbor, Mich. Arlington, Va. Hoboken, N.J. Santa Barbara, Calif. Silver Level Charlottesville, Va. Decatur, Ga. Bronze Level Austin, Texas Charlotte, N.C. Flagstaff, Ariz. Wilsonville, Ore. …

Biking

NYC’s first Asian-American woman firefighter rides a bike to work, and loves it

Think you’ve got a good idea of what a New York firefighter is like? Or a New York biker? Well, get ready to reexamine some of your stereotypes, if you’ve got ‘em. Sarinya Srisakul is the FDNY’s first Asian-American woman firefighter (she also happens to be a vegan). She rides her bike to work 10 miles from Elmhurst, Queens, to the East Village in Manhattan, because it gets her there faster than the subway, it keeps her in shape, and she loves it. Srisakul’s story is the first in a series Streetfilms is doing for Bike Month in New York …

Cities

Why the ‘coming housing calamity’ shouldn’t have to be calamitous

The housing market is changing. It’s time to move on from sprawl development.Photo: jcbonbonLast week, I wrote about the mind-bending case of a developer who is giving away cars in order to convince people to buy houses in a far-flung exurban development. It’s kind of like giving away cigarettes to sell funeral plots. The absurdity of the buy-a-house-get-a-car-free approach only became clearer when I read a pair of articles over the weekend — one about demographic trends, the other about shrinking cities. The first comes from Robert Steuteville, writing on New Urban Network about “The coming housing calamity.” It details …

Meet the world’s most high-tech bike

It's pretty impressive that we're still chugging along on human-powered vehicles only a step more high-tech than a velocipede — olde-tyme bikes look basically like the ones we've got today. Why improve on perfection, right? Well, maybe just for the sheer badassery of it. At least, that seems to be the theory behind the Alpha, a high-tech bike designed by UPenn students that is basically a jetpack on wheels. The Alpha is an engineer's wet dream. Among its features: Lightweight carbon-fiber frame (lighter than a steel frame, even with all the added gadgetry) Onboard computer and handlebar display with real-time …

What can we learn from the world’s most efficient fake city?

This EXTREMELY METAL VIDEO shows the evolution of what is probably the world's most efficient Sim City: 6 million inhabitants and no congestion. It's got optimal population density, operates by subway alone, and has essentially beat an unbeatable game by lasting for 50,000 in-game years. The innovative gridding system that made all this possible was a year and a half in the making. Also if you go by the video, it was designed by Dethklok. It wasn't really, though — it was designed by reportedly "normal dude" Vincent Ocasla. And he points out that there are a few down sides …

Cities

Osama bin Laden couldn’t destroy the free city of New York

This is not what “victory” looks like. Victory is everyday New York.Photo: Sarah GoodyearFor New Yorkers, the 9-11 attack was personal. For weeks after the towers came down, the public spaces of our city were filled with heart-breaking reminders of the event: Walls covered with the pictures of those who never came home. Firehouses draped in purple-and-black bunting. Union Square packed with debate and outrage, flowers and candles. And always the smell, that sickening aroma of smoke and chemicals and death. And yet: It was not all sorrow. I will never forget standing on Houston Street on Sept. 12 watching …

Detroit mayor celebrates demolition of 3,000th building

Who's ready to party like it's 12/12/2012? Detroit mayor David Bing, that's who! In an announcement made via Twitter, his office proudly declared that the city had demolished its 3,000th building of 2010. That's 10 times the rate at which the city demolished buildings in 2009. Bing's stated goal is the erasure of 10,000 blighted, abandoned homes by December 2013. While shrinking the city of Detroit to a more manageable size is an admirable goal, not everyone was celebrating the announcement. Namely this woman, who bought a house across the street from her condo in Detroit and had planned to …

Cities

Home tweet home: Twitter chooses the city over sprawl

I spent the last couple of days at a conference about climate, cities, and behavior. One topic that kept coming up among the municipal officials there — from places like New York, Denver, Vancouver, Richmond, and San Francisco — was the importance of walkable downtowns to attracting business and investment. Amenities like good transit, bike infrastructure, and dynamic public spaces are increasingly being seen not as frivolities, but as essential tools in building a city’s economy. In that context, some of us talked about Twitter’s announcement last week that it will be moving to new headquarters in San Francisco’s Central …

Urbanism

Salt of the earth: Environmentalists and urbanists collide in San Francisco Bay [UPDATED]

In a collection of salt evaporation ponds tucked between a freeway, a sleepy little marina, and the headquarters of Dreamworks Animation, the San Francisco Bay’s ecological future hangs in the balance. The ponds themselves look deceptively blank: Vast flat rectangles of shallow water once used by Cargill to produce salt, the two-and-a-quarter square miles are fenced-off and nearly featureless, like an enormous bank of flattened solar panels. To the west is Bair Island, itself a former salt pond. After four years of restoration, veiny tributaries and puffs of native scrub have begun to reemerge, drawing threatened species like the California …