* You are viewing Posts Tagged ‘infrastructure’

Location, location, location

Reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause global warming is on most current political agendas. At 36%, the largest GHG source in British Columbia is transportation. GHG emissions are a product of vehicle miles traveled (VMT); therefore, a reduction in the latter contributes towards GHG reduction goals.

Thanks to Jeff Turner for this great Creative Commons photo of freeway infrastructure outside Los Angeles.

According to Philip Langdon of the New Urban Network, this is a “data problem” because achieving significant VMT reduction requires precise knowledge of vehicle trips and how they are impacted by mass transit, different development patterns and public policy interventions.

Location determines trips; no additional data is required. Langdon’s article cites a goal of 12% VMT reduction which could be accomplished simply … Continue Reading

What Lies Beneath: Subterranean Infrastructure for Street Trees

Silva Cell installation on 4th Avenue in Seattle. Thanks to SDOT on Flickr for the Creative Commons photo!

Wondering what’s under streets has always been a favourite daydream of mine. The juxtaposition of green cities, with vibrant trees emerging from endless paving evokes images of intrepid root networks spreading out beneath the smooth exterior.

Silva Cells, a “modular subsurface integrated tree and stormwater system that holds unlimited amounts of soil while supporting traffic loads beneath paving and hardscape,” is a technology that  makes it easier for trees to survive and thrive in cities. The system provides an area for roots to spread in uncompacted soil and to share resources. The modular units can be laid out as bridges between soil volumes, connecting street tree roots … Continue Reading

Vancouver’s Bicycle Infrastructure – A Summer Cycle Tour!

In Vancouver, as in many cities in North America and Europe, June is officially Bike Month. To celebrate, the Planning Institute of British Columbia’s South Coast Chapter presented a summer bicycle tour on June 19 for local planners and cycling enthusiasts.

The theme was “Health and the Built Environment”, so the morning began with a chat about the implications of walkable and bikeable environments for public health. Next, the cyclists took to the streets and bike lanes to tour Vancouver’s cycling infrastructure, lead by a dream team of local transportation planners and cycling advocates.

My twelve favourite pictures from the morning are in the slideshow below…

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Snapshot: Closed Schools

Snapshot_Abandoned Schools_091101
Over the course of a few decades, a neighbourhood’s demand for school infrastructure can change dramatically. Changes in population size or composition fuel the need for new schools or erode the viability of existing ones. The effects of these demographic changes are highly localized, since the residential catchment area of an urban elementary school is generally less than a one kilometer radius around the school site.

Cranberry School in Powell River, BC, shown above, was closed in 1983. Its playing fields are still maintained and used by local sports teams, but children from the Cranberry neighbourhood now attend school in other parts of Powell River. To the dismay of local heritage preservationists, the Cranberry School building, built in 1930, sits empty … Continue Reading

Green Infrastructure: Paying for Utopia (Feature)

The term ‘green infrastructure’ typically conjures up ideas of LEED-buildings, green roofs, grey-water recycling and emerging clean energy technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines. This type of ‘green infrastructure’ investment is sometimes heralded as an economic save-all, a way to meet the goals of the planning profession while investing in the world of tomorrow. Pundits suggest that investment in green infrastructure will create the backbone of future communities, places that are energy efficient, multi-modal, carbon-neutral and in harmony with natural systems.

However, “green infrastructure” could also have an entirely new meaning. Exploring this expanded definition is going to test our beliefs and will require keeping an open mind. Planners should be up for the task; as a profession we are open to idea exploration, we experiment with new technologies and we utilize our creative instincts when planning for communities … Continue Reading

In New York City: Abandoned elevated rail becomes a new urban park


The High Line, underneath the Standard Hotel. Photo by author.

High Line_Complete

Pedestrians enjoy a stroll on the completed High Line in New York. Thanks to Gerard Dalmon for the Creative Commons photo!

Two weeks after the opening of the High Line, New York is still reveling in its newest city park. The creation of open space is a rare event in the world’s densest cities, a treasure hunt sometimes known as landscape urbanism. Seoul, Korea recently brought to daylight a forgotten river under the city, opening up a wide boulevard of parks and recreation spaces. Many cities have converted unused belt railways into community gardens or greenways. Now this trend for generating innovative … Continue Reading

What is New Urbanism? CNU video competition winner

In case you’ve ever wondered what New Urbanism is, here’s an entertaining video, which won a contest sponsored by the Congress for the New Urbanism

The film, which was produced by First + Main Media from Julian, California, and Paget Films from Buffalo, New York, visually represents New Urbanist ideas and blames sprawl for the end of civilization. But, it’s a good introduction to New Urbanist ideas.

Congress for the New Urbanism created the film contest to promote its annual conference. This year’s conference, “CNU 17,”  will be held in Denver on June 10-14. Here’s a link to some of the other submissions to the contest. Via NRDC.org.

Participatory Comprehensive Plan for New Orleans

nola_czoOn March 20th, the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) released a working draft for its new citywide Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) to the public. The CPC anticipates that the final plan will be posted to the website for public access in June. The city hopes that the plan will be a “roadmap” for the next two decades, emphasizing sustainability, community infrastructure, transportation, arts development, future land use, and citizen participation in planning decisions. The development of a new CZO is especially interesting, because the last one was created almost 40 years ago. The city anticipates that the new CZO will be clearly written and organized. It will also contain illustrations to help users understand the regulations. The overall goal of the CZO will be to give clear direction … Continue Reading

SeeClickFix: Community empowerment for infastructure maintenance

SeeClickFix Interface

SeeClickFix Interface

SeeClickFix.com is a new social networking service located in New Haven, Connecticut, that is using the wisdom of crowds to highlight municipal infrastructure problems.

The website is hoping to engage the community by providing tools that increase transparency and communication between residents, governments and organizations. Overall, SeeClickFix.com’s goal is to make it easier for residents to improve their community, using Google Maps.

The best thing about SeeClickFix.com is that it is so easy to use:
See – see a non-emergency issue in your neighborhood
Click – open a ticket describing the issue and what can be done to resolve it
Fix – publicly report the issue to everyone for resolution
The website was started by a group of nerdy software and design entrepreneurs in New Haven who saw the British FixMyStreet.com … Continue Reading

The Works: Anatomy of a City [Review]


The Works: Anatomy of a City

The Works: Anatomy of a City

I just finished reading The Works: Anatomy of a City by Kate Ascher, former vice president of New York City Economic Development Corporation. The book is a beautiful compendium of   description of New York City’s guts, covering moving people and freight, providing power and communication, keeping the city clean, and what the city may look like in the future. The Works is well organized, moving from more general ideas and examples to really specific examples. The book is also a pleasure to read. The Works is full of infographics, cross-sectios of streets, maps, illustrations, historic photographs, and charts. It is also full of really interesting facts, like the following description of the pedestrian crosswalk signals in New York … Continue Reading