Cities

Notable quotable

Supertrain a-comin’

“There’s a reason when you turned on the Olympics to watch them this past summer, you saw mag-lev trains going over 200 miles an hour in supposedly a third world country [i.e., China] in terms of its economy, blowing into town, dealing with environmental problems they have as well as transporting people in a way that we don’t even come close to being able to do. And as Barack has pointed out, and John Corzine knows, I may have a bit of a pro-rail bias. I think of the jobs we can create in both construction and innovation if we …

Never doubt that a single crank can change the world

SanFran anti-transit activist puts $1 million between the city and bike infrastructure

Streetsblog brings word of a bafflesome episode in the life of San Francisco: Two-and-a-half years after a judge issued an injunction preventing the city from adding any new bicycle infrastructure to its streets, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the San Francisco Planning Department have released a 1353-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. At a cost of more than $1 million, the city has attempted to demonstrate in excruciating detail what would seem to be obvious: better bicycle amenities contribute to increased cycling and an improved environment. Apparently SanFran undertook this research …

Connect the dots

For stronger cities, build better connections

Infrastructure is a dull business. The guy talking about pipes and wires is not generally the life of the party (to my chagrin). But infrastructure is all the rage these days, with economists calling for broad stimulus, and Barack Obama’s transition team planning big investments in the American economy. The excitement seems to be catching. Even staid legislators are feeling energized by the new push to rebuild America. Last week, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) introduced the High-Speed Rail for America Act, a bill that would authorize $23 billion in bond sales to fund rail infrastructure generally, …

Giving thanks ... for links

Some leftovers to browse before T-Giving

I’ve got about 40 tabs open in my browser, and that’s no way to go into a holiday weekend. Time for an old-fashioned link-fest! —– I never managed to say anything about it, but novelist Ian McEwan had a delightfully literary and readable essay on Obama and climate change in The Guardian. Definitely worth reading. The Wall Street Journal has a special package on Obama’s green challenge, with a focus on reducing demand in light of falling oil prices. With video! I know Gristians got no love for biofuels, even the cellulosic variety, but this story describes some very cool …

L.A. will go big with solar power under mayor’s plan

Los Angeles will source one-tenth of its energy from solar power by 2020 under a plan unveiled Monday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Considering the town’s many celebrities, a plan to tap star power is certainly forthcoming.

Reusing big boxes

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while: on Slate, Julia Christensen has a slideshow essay showing how some communities have repurposed abandoned big box retail spaces. My favorite is the one in Austin, Minn., where they renovated an abandoned K-Mart to become a Spam museum. Yes, a Spam museum. And not the email kind either.

Vast majority of feds’ flex-fuel cars still run on straight gasoline

The federal government has poured billions of dollars into building up a fleet of 112,000 flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on an ethanol blend — but the attempt to move away from fossil fuels has so far largely failed, as 92 percent of the vehicles still run on straight gasoline.

A technology for the long emergency

Avego makes ride-sharing a normal reality

The thing about energy-driven collapse is that it’s uneven — it’s not like the calendar flips back and we all return to having the things we had in the past. Rather, we’re going to have this huge overhang of technology from the peak period of affluence and abundance. Sometimes that’s going to be bad (buildings that are unlivable without massive inflows of energy) and sometimes it will be fortuitous. Even if the satellites and cellphones fail, we will need to learn sharing — making the maximum use of each resource, such as an auto trip. Here’s a good start: Avego …

Can we build it? Yes we can ... eventually

Greenbuild ends on a note of cautious optimism

When he took the stage for the closing session of this year’s Greenbuild, amid flashing lights and a thumping rock anthem, USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi got right to the point: “When people say green building is over, tell them there were 29,752 people at Greenbuild. That doesn’t sound like we’re at the end of the road.” It’s a message that green building advocates are chanting every chance they get — and personally, I hope they’re right. Green building makes sense on all sorts of e-word levels: energy, environment, economy, employment. But there was some sense that this crowd — as …

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