Cities

at the Climate neutral unconference

The Seattle project

Courtesy Michael @ NW Lens via FlickrOn a wintery, gusty morning last Saturday, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn rode his bicycle down from his north-side home to a downtown architecture and design firm for a rather unmayoral event. Some 60 or 70 people had gathered for a daylong “unconference,” a loosely organized bring-your-own-lunch affair, to plot how Seattle can become the first carbon neutral city in North America. Here’s the background, quickly: Last fall, at a two-night lecture at Seattle’s Town Hall, Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen invited the city to adopt a goal of complete carbon neutrality by 2030. This drew attention. …

Vive la différence

My family (yours, too) needs rich social spaces–not cars–to be happy

Lisa’s fantastic essay, “Say it loud: I’m childfree and I’m proud,” had 196 comments last time I checked. If you haven’t read it, you really should. I’ll wait here. … It got me thinking. Pardon a weekend ramble. Me and my little resource hogs.I’m a father of two boys and I’ve absolutely loved it. I was making pretty poor use of being childless anyway, and it turns out having kids suits me better than independence ever did. But my first reaction to Lisa’s essay was not defensiveness. It’s not like we’re taking a quiz and there’s only one right answer. …

connect the DOTS

Do Americans really make the connection between transportation, oil use, and environmental impacts?

The national poll that Transportation for America released this week makes it clear that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of increasing our access to transportation options, no matter where they live in America — big cities, suburbs, small towns, or rural areas. The majority believes that their community — and the country as a whole — would benefit from an expanded and improved public transportation system including rail and buses. Americans not only underestimate how much of their tax dollars actually go to roads and bridges, 58 percent think we should be spending more of those dollars on public transportation …

Imagine there's no drilling, and other wishful woo woo

Understanding the allure of ‘drill baby drill’

President Obama’s decision to expand offshore drilling leases seems to affirm the power that the “drill baby drill” battle cry holds in the American energy conversation. Turns out a short, simple, much-repeated slogan holds more currency than detailed policy arguments from clean-energy advocates. I want to tease out a connection between “drill baby drill” and what you might call the forward-looking bright green vision. Sean Casten is fond of a Soviet bread-line metaphor: Hungry Bolsheviks standing in line for bread can probably imagine more of the same stale, dry white bread. When they demand more, they’ll probably call for more …

roll with it

Lawyer: No, you shouldn’t paint your own bike lane

Portland, where else? (This one’s legal, by the way.)Courtesy BikePortland via FlickrIn case you were wondering, attorney Kenny Ching at GOOD says painting guerrilla bike lanes on your favorite cycling streets is a trouble-ridden idea. What kind of trouble? Catastrophic trouble. Never mind property damage and vandalism. You could be responsible—legally, financially, and otherwise—for a car hitting one of your fellow cyclists.  You’d likely be found negligent because you should have known (a reasonable person would have) that by painting a bike lane in the street that didn’t really belong there, people would ride their bikes in it. You should …

In which I sound 400 years old

Walkshed dilemmas and the Nissan Leaf

The wife and I recently made a fairly difficult decision about where to send our 6-year-old to school for first grade next year. We had the following dilemma: he tested into the gifted program at our neighborhood school, but he also tested into the highly gifted program, which is run at a school across town. Our neighborhood school is quite nice, and to boot, once he’s old enough he could easily walk or bike there. It would be nice to have easy access to after-school events, volunteer opportunities, etc. And on a philosophical level, we both believe it’s worthwhile to …

SAVING THE WALES

‘Britain’s Appalachia’ engineers a brighter post-coal future

Can renewable energy turn Wales as clean and shiny as the Cardiff waterfront?Courtesy ttfnrob via FlickrThe sparkling, sanitized waterfront of Cardiff, Wales, reveals barely a hint of the country’s grimy industrial past. Where one of the busiest ports anywhere once shipped Welsh coal out into the world, a complex of upscale shops, pubs, and restaurants now dominates the area. Out are the sailors, brothels, and seedy watering holes. In are tourist-friendly pubs, fusion restaurants with names like ffresh, and a circus carousel. The locally favored Brains brewery (“People who know beer have Brains”) has survived nearby. Even the bay itself …

ISO tall, dark and efficient

ENERGY STAR ranked cities: Find your perfect match [slideshow]

The Environmental Protection Agency just released a report ranking U.S. cities based on their number of ENERGY STAR–labeled buildings. These rankings make us, well, warm all over, so we decided to check out the sexiest top nine ENERGY STAR buildings of the bunch. Are you in search of the perfect match? Look no further than these sassy personal ads. Maybe we’ll all get lucky.    Los Angeles The Watt Plaza: The twin office towers encompass 900,000 sq. feet. L.A. dominated the list, for the second year in a row, with 293 ENERGY STAR–labeled buildings in 2009 and $93.9 million in cost savings. L.A. twins seek …

the tabletop speech

Cars won’t get all the love, Ray LaHood says in big bike speech

LaHood steps up at the National Bike Summit on March 11.Courtesy BikePortland via FlickrTwo weeks ago, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood climbed on a table and told a group of bike advocates that federal transportation planners were finished raising the almighty auto above cyclists and walkers. “I’ve been all over America, and where I’ve been in America I’ve been very proud to talk about the fact that people do want alternatives,” he said (video below). “They want out of their cars, they want out of congestion, they want to live in livable neighborhoods and livable communities … You’ve got a partner …

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