Cities

Greyhound and other intercity buses gain popularity

High gas prices are helping Greyhound and other intercity buses shun their loser-cruiser reputation. Ridership on the U.S. intercity bus system fell by a third between 1960 and 1980, by half again by 2006 — …

Is your favorite beach polluted?

Photo: Tom Twigg American beaches “continue to suffer from serious water pollution that puts swimmers at risk,” concludes the Natural Resources Defense Council in an annual report. There were 22,571 pollution-related closures or warning advisories …

Google Maps adds walking directions

Taking another step toward complete indispensability, Google Maps on Tuesday became the first service of its kind to add walking directions. In addition to searches for car and transit travel, pedestrians — and, hell, Segway-ers …

Street arts

Artists and environmentalists team up to create vibrant cityscapes

The Olympic Sculpture Park. Photo: Jeff Wilcox. “Cities are what’s going to get us out of this mess … and what makes cities livable is art.” That was the take-home message, summarized by Cascade Land …

First statewide green-building standards adopted by California, natch

Photo: Patrick Dirden California has adopted the nation’s first statewide green-building standards in what is, according to ever-punny Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, “literally a groundbreaking move.” The new California Green Buildings Standards Code requires builders to …

Major U.S. cities ranked by relative walkability

Software company Front Seat has released a ranking of the most walkable U.S. cities, rating the relative distance to and density of businesses like grocery stores, bars, book stores, and coffee shops to calculate an …

Dean Quixote

Nashville mayor stumps for public transit

Here’s Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville, Tenn., on MayorTV talking in almost jarringly common sense terms about the challenges facing cities and the solutions — public transit, diversity, economic development — that can overcome them: …

Ferrocementally speaking, green building just got easier

RoofKrete makes thin flexible ferrocement that is also vapor barrier

I recently stumbled across a green builders' discussion of a product called RoofKrete, which claims to be a form of semi-flexible ferrocement that can be sturdy and self-supporting in shells as thin as a quarter inch. An additive to the cement makes it a vapor barrier as well, rated to last over 100 years and expected to last much longer than that. The obvious use for RoofKrete, and the major market at which it is currently aimed, is repairing failed flat roofs and constructing long-lasting, low maintenance new ones. But the reason it caught my eye was the potential for green buildings.

Driven to extinction

How transportation wonks can make your city rank

Here's an interesting ranking. For each major U.S. city, the list-happy editors at Men's Health calculated the negative effects of driving. They aggregated scores on transit ridership, air pollution, fuel consumption, and driving miles. (Presumably, the data are for metropolitan areas, not city limits.) Northwest cities do exceptionally well: Seattle ranks number one, Portland ranks third, and Spokane is eighth. Men's Health doesn't appear to include a methodology on the web, but I'll take a stab at the explanation. First, a minor point. Seattle and Portland benefit from a felicitous geographic situation: prevailing westerly winds tend to keep our air some of the cleanest in the country, so we do relatively well on air pollution scores. Second and more importantly, the list illustrates that urban areas control their own destinies. Smart policy matters, even if it's relatively small-caliber.

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