it's what the cool cities are doing

Bike love in unlikely places—Detroit, Dallas, Abu Dhabi

Courtesy Moriza via FlickrI’m hard pressed to think of three places less likely to invest in bicycle infrastructure than Detroit, Dallas, and Abu Dhabi. But they are. Motor City will add 30 miles of bike lanes, focused in its southwest quadrant, with hopes to add hundreds of miles more in coming years. Dallas citizens, planners, and politicians begin meeting this month to overhaul a 25-year-old bicycling master plan. Oil-rich Abu Dhabi is working to execute its 2030 plan, which includes Smart Growth principles that will improve its lackluster record for cyclist and pedestrian safety. There’s something of an iPad phenomenon …

peak usage

Northwest mountain towns become home efficiency lab

The American pet-food industry spends more on research and development each year than the American utility industry does, according to a mind-blowing line in Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded. In most competitive industries, companies spend perhaps 8 to 10 percent of total revenues on R&D. Utilities, which don’t have to compete with each other, spend a dismal 0.15 percent, writes Friedman. So I think any sensible experiments by utilities are worth applauding, including this one from the public utility Seattle City Light: The utility plans to use two historic company towns in the North Cascades in Washington state as …

Feng shweet!

The secret life of green roofs [SLIDESHOW]

The city of Portland, Ore., is aiming for 49 total acres of eco-roofs in the city by 2013 (the city’s paying up to $5 per square foot to any home or business that builds one). But what about green roofs outside the urban environment? What’s the appeal there? Blending more with the natural surroundings? Sure, green roofs are beautiful, keep your abode cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and tastier for wildlife passers-by. But, we wonder, what stories and mysteries lie beneath the non-urban eco-roofs … Photo courtesy shropshiretraveller via deviantART The fourth little pig, having hired an …

southern rebellion

Towns invest in smarter streets … in Mississippi

Two Mississippi towns want better options than auto-only streets, and now they’ve made it official. The towns of Tupelo (pop. 36,223) and Hernando (pop. 6,812) each passed Complete Streets legislation that ensures roads will be built and maintained for walkers, cyclists, and other forms of transportation—along with drivers. Yesterday St. Louis citizens voted to fund better mass transit. Now this in Mississippi—this stuff is getting around. Towns of these sizes don’t build a lot of transit infrastructure, so sidewalks, bike paths, and road safety features are all the better. “I’m proud of our city council’s unanimous support of this initiative …


St. Louis votes for better transit, despite Tea Party campaign

Here’s some good news: St. Louis citizens want robust mass transit, and they’re willing to pay for it. Despite a Tea Party opposition campaign, St. Louis County voters on Tuesday approved a half-cent sales tax increase to stabilize and eventually expand the region’s ailing transit network. The measure passed by a monstrous 24 point margin. The St. Louis Tea Party focused its energy on defeating the civic project, calling the campaign a test run for defeating Democrats in this fall’s midterm elections. So it’s a setback for them. But it’s good news for those wanting to get around the St. …

have it your subway

Imaginary, underwater subway lines are always the most convenient route

Transit Authority FiguresFor publicly transitive folks like myself, why does it seem that the fastest way between two points is an imaginary subway line? And a watery one, to boot! If I were an East Coaster, I’d definitely submerse myself in these non-existent, though wish-listily handy transit routes, even if their actual construction would be a big, wet flop. All a-surfboard!             —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive The Grist List, our email roundup of pun-usual green news just like this, sent out every Friday.

Wherein I play God

Making my neighborhood more walkable, sociable, sustainable, and safe

This weekend, I wrote a somewhat abstract post about how America’s built spaces prevent many Americans from connecting with the supportive social networks essential to health and happiness. Let’s zoom from the lofty down to the concrete. Let’s talk about my neighborhood. I live in the Bitter Lake area of Seattle. (In the early 20th century, an adjacent sawmill dumped so much tannic acid into the lake that horses wouldn’t drink the water — thus the name.) It’s zoned as an “urban village,” but at least for now that designation is, er, aspirational. Most of it isn’t mixed use, but …

wheels of fire

A firestorm of comments over LaHood’s big bike speech

LaHood steps up at the National Bike Summit on March 11.Courtesy BikePortland via FlickrFour weeks ago Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood climbed on a table and declared the reign of the almighty auto was finished. Federal transportation funding would no longer favor cars at the expense of bicycling, walking, and mass transit, said the 65-year-old Republican from downstate Illinois. A few days later he followed up with details and an explanation that this is what Americans have been asking for. The effects of his words have been rippling out ever since. Gleeful, perceptive, wary, and downright stupid responses are floating about …

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. …

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