A short reading from The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs.
This copy published by Vintage Books, copyright 1961. Chapter 19, Visual Order: Its limitations and possibilities. Beginning with the 2nd paragraph (p. 372 in this copy).
A short reading from The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs.
How can we fit more people into cities without overcrowding? In this TEDxBoston 2012 talk, Kent Larson shows off folding cars, quick-change apartments and other innovations that could make the city of the future work a lot like a small village of the past.
- 6 TEDxTalks envisioning the city of the future
- Discovering the Startup City
- Paperman: Serendipity in the City [Weekend Watch]
- Urbanism done right in Vancouver’s Olympic Village [Weekend Watch]
I’m stoked that simCity, one of my favourite ‘games’ is being updated early next year! I just hope that my laptop has the processor power to handle it
Official EA 2012 gameplay trailer for SimCity by EA Maxis. SimCity is an online city building simulation game from Maxis Studios. It is the quintessential city builder franchise that started a genre.
SimCity is back and bigger than ever with a new 3D world to create and control and multi-player to play with your friends for the first time.
The newest version of SimCity, set to be released in February 2013, retains most of the game’s previous elements (including its addictive quality) while bringing a whole new level of complexity to the tilt-shift inspired world. You might not even notice how Maxis is subtly teaching you about the pros and cons of renewable energy, preserving natural resources, and cooperating with neighboring cities.
Only if we embrace the facts of transit, and discover the opportunities they present, will our cities, and our transit, be human. —Jarrett Walker
Whether you are transit geek, a SkyTrain rider or an interested citizen, you will learning something by reading Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives. The newly published book by Jarrett Walker is an accessible guide to thinking about public transit in an informed and systemic way. It provides professionals, users, and citizens alike with the background to have informed conversations about this important topic.
Jarrett Walker is transit consultant who has designed public transit systems for over 20 years and author of the popular transit blog HumanTransit, from which much of the book is based. Unlike a lot of transit analysts, who write from an east coast perspective—based on dense, pre-automobile urban cities; Walker writes with a uniquely west coast—and post-automobile city—outlook. This outlook, informed by living and working in cities such as Portland, Sydney and Vancouver, make the book extremely relevant west coast readers.
Walker is a transit technology agnostic. To him technology is a tool, a means to an end; not the end itself. As such, Human Transit focuses on the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of transit, not just the ‘how.’ The book goes beyond the usual transit debates of whether buses, street cars, light rail or subways are better. Instead, it looks at the basic fundamentals of transit, including concepts like speed, frequency, span, capacity and reliability.
Walker believes that to decide on the right tool (i.e. transit mode) you need to understand the purpose of that tool. Too often transit debates focus on the technology and not the purpose. As a result we “get people using a hammer to turn a screw or a screwdriver to pound nails.” I would add that even when we use the right tool, undue focus on technology can lead to overkill; using a power drill to turn a screw, when a simple screwdriver would do the job more effectively.
If the debate over transit technologies is not distracting enough, transit planning is further confused by a lack of consensus over the basic goals of public transit. As Walker notes in his book, while other city services—like policing—have easily agreed upon answers (enforcing the law), the ‘answer’ of public transit is influenced by a diversity of questions:
Economists may talk about transit in terms of profitability, as though that were its goal. Social service advocates think of it as a tool for meeting the needs of the disadvantaged. Architects and urban designers care about how it feels to move through a city, so they often focus on the aesthetics of the transit vehicle and infrastructure. Urban redevelopment advocates categorize services according to how well they stimulate development.
The result of this confusion is that no clear priorities arise, and when it comes to persuading decision-makers, transit planners are at a decided disadvantage with this myriad of priorities, next to their colleagues in other departments with clearer goals..
Making this even more challenging is fact that most of our transit decision-makers are motorists. Walker notes that driving a car regularly can subconsciously shape our thinking, leading to certain biases, such as favouring transit speed over frequency. But for most regular transit riders, ‘frequency is freedom,’ as waiting times (determined by frequency) often matter more than speed in determining trip times. This leaves many decision-makers—be they politicians or transit executives—asking the wrong question.
One solution to this challenge is, ironically, through the use of technology. One of Walker’s favourite transit tools is a recently added feature on WalkScore.com that allows you to see how far you can travel on transit within a specified time period. Visual representations like this can help decision-makers understand the important role that frequency plays in transit mobility.
As a pedestrian advocate, I was impressed by Human Transit’s attention to pedestrians. Too often, the pedestrian experience is left out of transit discussions, despite the fact that every trip begins and ends on foot. Walker argues that transit is a complement to walking, not a competitor. In other words, bus routes and stops should be spaced far enough apart to optimize the travel range of pedestrians.
Although Human Transit is directed towards those with an interest in public transit, Walker’s PhD in literature and experience as a blogger helps make his writing clear and accessible to any reader. This is a decided blessing when talking about the often dry and jargon laden subject, such as “transit geometry” or “inverted couplet.” Walker’s focus on the ‘human’ side of the title makes this book more accessible by his many references to the experience of taking transit.
While I am a regular transit rider and reader of Walker’s blog, I am by no means a transit expert. But Walker’s writing style kept me interested and engaged throughout the book. By the end, I appreciated why the technical side of the transit equation is as important as the human side—and how knowledge of both is an important part of understanding the urban landscape. Read the book and you will too.
This. Is. Amazing. I love cities and I love skiing. I never thought that the two could mix until I saw this trailer. Whether you can it street skiing, ski parkour, or ski porn it is simply incredible. And not only the skiing, but the cinematography and soundtrack as well. The segment is from All.I.Can by Sherpas Cinema.
Location: Trail, Rossland, and Nelson, BC.
Music: Dance Yrself Clean, by LCD Soundsystem.
- Sherpas Cinema – JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) (sixand5.com)
- Video: Watch the Amazing JP Auclair Street Skiing Scene From All.I.Can. (ngadventure.typepad.com)
- Beyond ski porn to a green theme (theglobeandmail.com)
Here are my top posts in order of unique page views from October 2011. Overall, I had 2,586 visitors and 8,101 page views, a significant increase over September. Links in bold are new posts written during October. All others are from my archives.
- Urban Fabric: The Form of Cities
- 9 Urbanism Fails
- Is Downtown Phoenix a Recession Ghost Town?
- 5 of the Best Urban Infographics
- TED Talks for Urbanists
- How to Date an Urban Planner
- A Brief History of Urbanism in North America: 1800s
- Halloween Costumes for Urban Planners
- Calvin and Hobbes on City Planning
- The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces: The Street Corner
Did you catch-all of these posts the first time around? If not, here’s your chance to read what others have found most interesting over the past month.
Is your favorite post in this list? Let me know in the comments section.
This week’s curated collection of news and views for urbanists:
- Designing for Density Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly, or Scary: Few architects take the challenge of density done right as seriously—and creatively—as David Baker (Atlanctic Cities)
- Public Participation: More than an “Orgy of Public Process” Criticism of participation is not new, but the increasingly strident tone of anti-participation sentiment should worry citizens and policy makers alike. (Next American City)
- Encore for Vancouver: What started as a sawmill and railroad town now attracts urban planners from all over the world (At Lincoln House)
- Jan Gehl on the Past 40 Years of Urbanism: Famed urbanist Jan Gehl looks back at the writing and thought on how people use the urban environment — including his own — over the past 40 years. (Planetizen)
- The Citizen Experience Needs Us: Why UX practitioners should join the Government 2.0 movement: The idea that government is inefficient and unpleasant to deal with is almost axiomatic at this point, but it doesn’t have to be that way. (UX Magazine)
For the past few months, I’ve been working with PlaceSpeak, a Vancouver-based online community consultation platform that connects people’s online identities with their residential addresses. We do this to enable residents to voice their opinions on local issues electronically in an authentic and meaningful way.
As you may know, municipal elections will be held across British Columbia on November 19th. With this date quickly approaching, we thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase the features and functionality of PlaceSpeak, by creating a series of topic pages for several municipal elections.
Our goal is to make it easier for Lower Mainland residents to engage with each other to discuss the local election issues that are most important to them.
Metro Vancouver Votes
Using PlaceSpeak’s unique geo-verification platform, we have created topic pages for metro Vancouver’s five largest cities, including Vancouver, Surrey,
On each city’s local topic page users will find information about the candidates, how and where to vote, a calendar of important events, surveys, and—most importantly—a forum where they can discuss the issues that interest them most in their own neighbourhoods. Residents can ‘claim their place’ and join the discussion at www.placespeak.com.
PlaceSpeak is a non-partisan platform. The goal is to familiarize residents with key election issues and to encourage relevant, respectful discussions with one another in their local areas. We are deeply concerned about the declining voter turnout in recent elections; according to PlaceSpeak CEO Colleen Hardwick:
“A more informed—and engaged—resident is a more likely voter.”
If you live in one of the five municipalities listed above, be sure to claim your place and connect to the relevant topic page. Also, I’d really appreciate it if you would ask your friends and neighbors to sign up and connect to a topic as well. If your city isn’t list, please let me know, and I’ll add it ASAP.
If you live outside BC, I’d appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to claim your place’ anyways. Our goal is for PlaceSpeak to promote engagement in communities around the world. I am already in conversations with people in Ottawa and Phoenix to start discussion s in those cities. They more people we have signed up, the easier it will be to create topics in your community.
I’m not 100% convinced that the electric car is the solution our cities need, but this looks like an interesting documentary nonetheless:
From the film’s website
In 2006, thousands of new electric cars were purposely destroyed by the same car companies that built them. Today, less than 5 years later, the electric car is back… with a vengeance.
In Revenge of the Electric Car, director Chris Paine takes his film crew behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM, and the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors to chronicle the story of the global resurgence of electric cars. Without using a single drop of foreign oil, this new generation of car is America’s future: fast, furious, and cleaner than ever.
With almost every major car maker now jumping to produce new electric models, Revenge follows the race to be the first, the best, and to win the hearts and minds of the public around the world. It’s not just the next generation of green cars that’s on the line. It’s the future of the automobile itself.
Revenge of the Electric Car is narrated by Tim Robbins. The primary castincludes CEO and President of Renault and Nissan Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk, Former Vice Chairman of GM Bob Lutz and EV do-it-yourselfer Greg “Gadget” Abbott.
Through his Yurbanism brand, Yuri Artibise explores the ‘Y’ of urbanism by sharing ways to make our cities more livable, community-oriented places one block at a time.