Cities

Bill of goods

Fast Company publishes an unsparing take-down of green architect William McDonough

This month’s Fast Company has an expose on green architecture guru William McDonough. It is fairly brutal. McDonough’s come in for plenty of hero worship (no small amount of it from me), but as Danielle Sacks tells it, he’s a vainglorious name-dropper and celeb-schmoozer, prone to claiming credit beyond what he is due, devoted above all to his own mythology, with a history of grand pronouncements followed by failures of execution. His much-hyped eco-city in China is crumbling. His buildings don’t perform as well as hyped. His cradle-to-cradle syndication program has gone nowhere. Worst of all, he seems rather clumsily …

Ford Smart Gauge urges driver fuel efficiency

Trying to reduce gas consumption? Drivers of the 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids will be assisted by a Smart Gauge that screams instructions like a panicked driver’s ed teacher shows, among other things, multiplying green leaves as drivers drive more fuel-efficiently. Ford will also improve how far the cars can go on electricity alone, estimating that they could cover some 700 miles on a single tank of gas.

If you don't know where you're going, there's no point fighting over how to get there

Good policy and enduring political alliances are built around goals, not paths

In a thoroughly excellent interview with Streetsblog, Rockafeller Foundation managing director Nicholas Turner urges a pragmatic approach to transportation: … if you’re thinking about transportation … as being a tool that helps you get to a set of broader societal benefits, you want to be somewhat mode-neutral. My guess is that any attempt to move towards those social benefits would, obviously, expand public transportation, rail, bus rapid transit, walking and biking. But I think it’s important to get out of this mode-against-mode battle because otherwise you’re not really addressing the problem. Exactly right. You can find the same form of …

Britain’s eco-town plans are on shaky ground

Thanks to the shaky economy, a struggling construction industry, and strong local opposition, sources close to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s eco-town plans say that only “one or two” of the 15 shortlisted sites are likely to go forward.

Save transit, save the world

Public spending on transit is an easy call

Katharine Mieszkowski tells the sordid story: in the U.S., ridership for public transit is up, demand is up, but funding is going down and transit systems are decaying. The Washington Post says "[D.C.] Metro and 30 other transit agencies across the country may have to pay billions of dollars to large banks as years-old financing deals unravel, potentially hurting service for millions of bus and train riders." Not good. Meanwhile! Reconnecting America recently released new report: "Jumpstarting the Transit Space Race: How the New Administration Could Make America Energy-Independent, Create Jobs and Keep the Economy Strong." Is shows that demand …

Prop. 1A

KQED takes a look at California’s high-speed rail ballot measure

Great look at California’s Proposition 1A: The mind-boggling myopia it takes to call something like this an “extravagance” mystifies me. When did we get so hinky about investing in our future? I will bet anyone $100 right now that ridership on this train, if it is built, exceeds the most optimistic assessments. I’ll bet another hundred that five years after it is built, a study will be done that finds that total social return exceeds invested capital by several decimal places. Once the first American high-speed rail system is in place, other heavily populated regions are going to start wanting …

And they’re super bad

Seoul is planning 129 miles of bike paths in the next four years. “We will make sure that bicycles will compete with vehicles for commuting in Seoul,” says mayor Oh Se-Hoon. Sweet.

The candidates on transit

Spokesfolk from the presidential campaigns talk transit in Our Nation’s Capital

Via Greater Greater Washington, representatives for both Barack Obama and John McCain spoke on a panel about transportation here in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Local radio station WTOP reports on what they had to say, at least about transit in Our Nation’s Capital: Where does your candidate stand on rail to Dulles? Mortimer Downey, adviser to Obama: He feels very strongly and favorably to rail. Rail to Dulles is the kind of thing we are looking for. Actually I’d like to see Dulles approved while the Bush Administration is still in place, because we need to get on with it …

Green group catalogs world’s 10 worst pollution problems

The world’s worst pollution problems kill millions of people each year and sicken hundreds of millions of others, mostly in developing countries, according to a new report from green group Blacksmith Institute. For the past few years, the group has ranked the world’s top 10 most-polluted sites in order to focus global attention and fuel efforts to clean them up. This year, however, the group broke slightly with its own tradition and instead focused on the worst pollution problems. In no particular order, the world’s top pollution problems include small-scale gold mining, contaminated surface water, contaminated groundwater, indoor air pollution, …

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