Today President Barack Obama will nominate the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to the post of transportation secretary.
If confirmed by the Senate, Anthony Foxx will succeed Ray LaHood, who is stepping down from the position. Early media reports paint the Charlotte mayor and former city council member as a bright up-and-coming leader who has prioritized public transportation projects in the city that he has led for almost four years.
Nestled along a residential stretch of Seagirt Boulevard in Far Rockaway, the Seagirt Boulevard Community Garden has been a green fixture in this Queens neighborhood for over two decades.
A photograph of the space from 2009 reveals row after row of neatly planted greens, herbs, and flowers -- some held up toward the sun by wooden stakes and twine. An American flag stands tall alongside the garden’s center path, lined with stone grey bricks.
Over the years, the abundance at Seagirt has included kitchen staples like kale and potatoes, along with more unusual offerings of cat mint and bayberry. One volunteer plants a peanut crop.
Yet after Superstorm Sandy rolled through New York last fall -- causing an estimated $19 billion in public and private losses in the city alone -- little remained of the garden aside from its still-standing flagpole and wooden shade structure.
A now-faded line on the garden’s outlying fence serves as a reminder of the storm surge, which rose to over four feet at Seagirt.
Politicians, lobbyists, and tourists alike can ride bicycles along a specially marked lane between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, part of the 115 miles of bicycle lanes and paths that now crisscross Washington, D.C. In Copenhagen, commuters can ride to work following a “green wave” of signal lights timed for bikers. Residents in China’s “happiest city,” Hangzhou, can move easily from public transit onto physically separated bike tracks that have been carved out of the vast majority of roadways. And on any given Sunday in Mexico City, some 15,000 cyclists join together on a circuit of major thoroughfares closed to motorized traffic. What is even more exciting is that in each of these locations, people can jump right into cycling without even owning a bicycle. Welcome to the era of the bikeshare.
Cyclists have long entreated drivers to “share the road.” Now what is being shared is not only the road but the bicycle itself. Forward-thinking cities are turning back to the humble bicycle as a way to enhance mobility, alleviate automotive congestion, reduce air pollution, boost health, support local businesses, and attract more young people. Bike-sharing systems -- distributed networks of public bicycles used for short trips -- that integrate into robust transit networks are being embraced by a growing number of people in the urbanizing world who are starting to view car ownership as more of a hassle than a rite of passage.
Today more than 500 cities in 49 countries host advanced bike-sharing programs, with a combined fleet of over 500,000 bicycles. Urban transport adviser Peter Midgley notes that “bike sharing has experienced the fastest growth of any mode of transport in the history of the planet.” It certainly has come a long way since 1965, when 50 bicycles were painted white and scattered around Amsterdam for anyone to pick up and use free of charge.
Cities where small, locally owned businesses account for a relatively large share of the economy have stronger social networks, more engaged citizens, and better success solving problems, according to several recently published studies.
And in the face of climate change, those are just the sort of traits that communities most need if they are to survive massive storms, adapt to changing conditions, find new ways of living more lightly on the planet, and, most important, nurture a vigorous citizenship that can drive major changes in policy.
Score one for mass transit: When your car breaks down, you're stuck on the side of the road, all by your lonesome. When your train breaks down, if you're lucky, you're stuck in a train car with a French winemaker who happens to have all the makings of a wine tasting at hand.
[W]inemaker Paul Goldschmidt, owner of Chateau Siaurac … was en route to DC for a special wine-tasting event at Calvert Woodley on Connecticut Avenue. The wine store had earlier sent out an announcement boasting of his visit as “what promises to be one of the most exciting in-store tasting events of the entire season.” It called Goldschmidt’s wines “stunning.” It was scheduled for 5 to 7 PM, but of course the time came and went and with no winemaker. He was trapped on a train.
The appropriately named Stoopid Tall bike is 14.5 feet high at the seat, making for a wobbly white-knuckle ride -- especially if you go under a 16-foot overpass, or get tangled in a kite string, both of which happened to Richie Trimble on his 20-mile ride. But he weathered this ordeal for a reason: to bring humanity video showing what it feels like to ride a Stoopid Tall bike while you're wearing Stoopid Pants.
New Yorkers have mixed feelings about the High Line. Sure, it's popular enough to make other cities jealous. But it's kind of out of the way and, damningly, overrun by tourists. It's also long been the object of ire from long-time residents suspicious of Bloombergian development, who find it a little too … manicured. It's a project that makes New Yorkers face up to the question of what sort of city they want to live in -- one that's exciting, but little bit rougher around the edges, or one that's safe but maybe a little bit tame? And that contrast has never been as stark as now, when High Line-related construction is conflicting with a kinky sex parade.
Jeremiah Moss, a blogger who's solidly on the side of the older, rougher city, writes that the construction of fancy buildings in the High Line's neighborhood has led to the cancellation of an old and dear ritual: the Folsom Street East street festival, "the largest outdoor fetish street festival on the easter coast, which brings thousands of sexy kinksters out onto the streets of New York City on a summer afternoon to celebrate sexual diversity and expression."
Boston is on lockdown today, which is terrifying to hear but even more terrifying to see. Business Insider has collected some photos from Twitter, taken by people who ought to go back inside. Seeing a major city as a ghost town is incredibly sobering.