October 24 2014

The City of Paris’ New Bike Plan Focuses on Infrastructure Projects for 2014-2020

More parking spots for bikes, new bike paths on major streets, extension of zones with 30km/h speed limits, and perhaps wider bike paths or the prohibition of cars at temporary markets. These are just some of the measures that are a part of the new “Bike Plan” put forth by the Mayor of Paris. The draft, which should be finalized in the beginning of December after being fully discussed, was presented on Tuesday, September 16th. An engineer presented the draft during a meeting of the “bike committee” of the 11th district of Paris, which took place under the gilded ceilings of the district’s city hall. Objective 15% “We are still in the stage where we are considering the overall prin[...]
October 23 2014

A Farewell to The Grid from Alexandra Serbana in Milan, Italy

It's been more than a year since I started writing for The Grid, three years since I moved to Milan, and one year since I finally started living the true Milanese life. Attending university at Politecnico di Milano and living on campus with all my international friends gave me a rather limited view of what this city is and could be. Campus life and all that comes with it was very different from the reality of how most people in Milan live. If you are comfortable just enjoying university life and having coffee with your friends, like I was, you may be less likely to go out and explore the social jungle of the city. When I graduated, I moved from the quiet, residen[...]
October 23 2014

Traffic Fatalities Kill More than Disease in Brazil

If you are afraid of being killed by a thug on the street, do not worry. Well, not quite. Data shows that it is more likely to die in traffic accidents than by murder or cancer in Brazil. Traffic fatalities are an epidemic, claiming the lives of 1.24 million people per year - equivalent to over three thousand Boeing 747 aircraft crashes, making it the ninth leading cause of death in the world. But if we consider the total amount of injuries from traffic fatalities, the numbers rise to 50 million. The new generation is also being victimized by it. Recent research presented at a congress of pediatrics reported that Brazilian children die from traffic accidents more often than from di[...]
October 22 2014

Transportation Options Underserving Residents in Towson, Maryland

Towson, Maryland is an urban-adjacent town just north of Baltimore City, with a mix of young families, retirees, and young professionals and a growing population of college students. As of 2014, Towson University’s undergraduate population totaled over 18,000 students, with on-campus housing available for fewer than 5,000 students. This means that up to 13,000 students are contributing to the traffic on Towson’s roads during the school year. As of 2012, Census data estimates that nearly 60% of Towson’s household population is college-enrolled, compared to 33% in other Baltimore suburbs. This presents challenges for maintaining a steady flow of traffic, but Towson’s students have fr[...]
October 21 2014

Urban Revitalization Seems Close Enough to Touch in Saint-Maixent l’École, France

Elected officials have validated Saint-Maixent l’École’s application for candidature for a national project to revitalize downtown areas across the country. While opening the municipal council debates on Thursday evening, Léopold Moreau announced that the city of Saint-Maixent L’École was pre-selected from three hundred communes in France to become a candidate for the revitalization of town centers. The representatives would have decided whether or not to take this opportunity, except for that only fifty communes will be selected during a yet-to-come final round of judging. According to the application, being chosen would allow the town to benefit from a f[...]
October 21 2014

São Paulo, Brazil Street Markets Celebrate 100 Years

On August 25th, 2014 we celebrated 100 years of the formal existence of street markets in São Paulo, a true cultural heritage of the city. The date refers to the first regulation of this activity in the capital, Act 710, signed by Mayor Washington Luis in 1914. The first official market in the city took place at Largo General Osório. Today we have 880 markets scattered in thirty-two subdistricts of the city. Generally, the marketplace is filled with family businesses, working in a different market every day of the week except for Monday. Today there are over 16,000 market stalls throughout the capital, in all regions of the city, according to inform[...]
October 20 2014

Ottawa Lacks Downtown Amenities to Stimulate Urban Intensification

A few weeks ago, on a sunny September afternoon, I left the fluorescent confines of my Centretown office in Ottawa to indulge in a meditative outdoor lunch in the fresh air and gentle hum of the city. After choosing my food, I scanned the surroundings for the most obvious green space where I could enjoy my meal. And I scanned again. And again. I walked a few blocks east, then west. Realizing that my search was in vain, I settled for a large concrete planter on a side street and meditated on the contradictions of Ottawa’s downtown life. Walking around Centretown, it is impossible to miss the brand new condominium developments poking through the neighborhood’s typical stock of low-ri[...]
October 20 2014

Are Tech Companies the Cure for San Francisco’s Homeless “Epidemic?”

Men and women step over the homeless, with shoes worth more than that individual earns in a year, begging on the streets of San Francisco. Most treat San Francisco’s homeless population similar to a chronic condition. It is seen as an issue which is constantly looming over the city, but will never be resolved. Some are kind to those who are homeless, while most tend to demonize the displaced population by labeling them as societal “leeches.” They are far too often despised for their unfortunate circumstances, rather than being seen as human. San Francisco is known to have one of the highest populations of homeless individuals in the United States, in stark contrast with the cit[...]
October 16 2014

Balancing Priority for Pedestrians and Parking in Rue Sainte-Catherine West, Montreal

Priority to pedestrians, but also more parking - this is the paradox that emerges from the first phase of consultations conducted by the City regarding the restructuring of Rue Sainte-Catherine West, which the President of the Executive Committee, Pierre Desrochers, summed up recently. The city's designers formulated four restructuring alternatives in the stride of this summer's citizens survey. Overall, the place of pedestrians remains a key stake. "People expect strong gestures regarding priority for pedestrians," affirmed Mr. Desrochers regarding the summer consultation during a press conference, insisting on the strong, enthusiastic response of the parti[...]
October 16 2014

Activists Fight to Preserve Historic São Félix Railway Station in Bahia, Brazil

Considered to be the main cultural and historical heritage building in the Reconcavo of Bahia, the São Félix, a former railway station, is now in an advanced state of deterioration and has been abandoned by the government since June 2014. An organization known as the Coletivo Criativo Ocupa Estação (Creative Collective for the Occupation of the Station) proposes artistic and cultural activities for the space, giving it a social function. The Collective started a film club, a library with a reading room, laboratory workshops and arts and crafts events for local communities. Before the occupation, it also operated as a health and fitness club. The construction of the station da[...]
October 14 2014

A Comparative Approach to Transportation in Paris, Lyon and Marseille, France

In Paris, Lyon and Marseille, the development of mass transit is a central element of the metropolitan project. However, the stakes and steps taken are very different from one city to the other. Aurelien Delpirou compares the three contexts and analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of each of their strategies. The creation of the Paris, Lyon and Marseille metropolises is at the center of the current territorial reform. While the transformation of their institutional organizations was subject to a sudden acceleration, the construction of an idea, and then a metropolitan project reveals, in all three cases, ancient and complex dynamics. Mass transit occupies a notable place in this process: i[...]
October 14 2014

Florianópolis, Brazil Signs Agreement to Improve Urban Mobility

The Municipality of Florianópolis and EMBARQ Brazil signed an agreement of technical, financial, economic, social and environmental cooperation on the afternoon of Thursday, September 25th. The act was formalized between Mayor Cesar Souza Junior and the Director of Strategic Development & Relations for EMBARQ Brazil, Rejane Fernandes, with the consent of the ambassador of Great Britain in the country, Alex Ellis. The British Embassy is sponsoring studies qualifying urban mobility projects for Florianópolis, to be federally funded through the Acceleration Program for Growth (PAC). The surveys are already being conducted ​​by EMBARQ Brazil. "We think[...]
October 10 2014

Racing Towards the Finish Line: Behind Montreal’s Hippodrome Development Project

The Hippodrome of Montreal, formerly named the Blue Bonnets Raceway, was a horse racing track and casino founded in 1872. It has sat at its current site on Decarie Boulevard in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough since 1907. Having gone bankrupt and officially closing its doors in 2009, the 43.5-hectare tract of vacant, abandoned land presents the city of Montreal with yet another opportunity for a large-scale, urban redevelopment project. The city envisions the creation of a sustainable, mixed-use neighbourhood of 5,000[...]
October 09 2014

Bees and Belonging in Ottawa’s Resilient Community Gardens

A new grassroots city-building movement is redefining the urban landscape in Ottawa. In neighbourhoods, residents are coming together to create stronger, more resilient communities by growing their own food in urban community gardens. There are currently over 50 community gardens registered with the Community Gardening Network (CGN) of Ottawa. One of these is Urban Shades, a new kid on the block, established this past summer. Nestled between All Saints Church and Laurier Avenue in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill neighbourhood, Urban Shades consists of twenty-two raised beds producing tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, kale, chard, mustard greens, radishes, and wild strawberries, to name j[...]
October 09 2014

Park Director Says Main Source of Brazil’s São Francisco River Is Dry

The São Francisco basin covers five states in Brazil and experts say the biodiversity of the region is under threat. The director of the Serra da Canastra National Park, Arthur Luiz Castanheira, said in an interview with G1 (Globo 1) that the source of the São Francisco River, located in São Roque de Minas, is now dry. "I've never seen this situation," said Castanheira. According to him, this is the main source of the 2,700 km long river. The São Francisco is the largest Brazilian river and its watershed covers 504 municipalities in seven Brazilian states including Bahia, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Goiás and the Federal District (Brasilia). It begins in the S[...]
October 08 2014

Pontevedra, Spain Increases Downtown Livability by Reducing Vehicle Access

It’s a city where the car is unobtrusive, a city with neither noise nor fumes, where children can play in the street and people with reduced mobility can access businesses and services easily. Is it a utopia? No, it is the urban model developed by Pontevedra, a city of 83,000 inhabitants located in the Northwest of Spain. In 1999, when Miguel Anxo Fernandez Lores presented himself in local elections, his program was simple. He proposed to the residents to make their city accessible to everyone, especially to the most vulnerable: handicapped people, senior citizens, and children. It was a decision guided by the European directive that is set to establish the equal rights and[...]
October 08 2014

Grants to Aid Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Goal: Swimmable & Fishable by 2020

As a major port city, Baltimore’s history with industrial activity influenced how the city’s land has been zoned and developed over time. The resulting design, infrastructure, and zoning of Baltimore’s neighborhoods has not always lent itself to environmental protection and sustainability. In recent years however, Baltimore City has shown an increasing commitment to the protection of its natural landscape and resources through multiple funding opportunities. Storm-water runoff has been a major problem for Baltimore City. Storm-water runoff, in an urban context, results from aging infrastructure, abandoned lots covered by impervious surfaces, and minimal buffering due[...]
October 08 2014

Building Happiness: A Review of Charles Montgomery’s Happy City

Happy City: Transforming our Lives through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery is the theoretical exploration of what it would mean to create an environmentally-friendly, socially just, aesthetically pleasing, and efficient city. Charles Montgomery is an award-winning author and activist who is known for exploring the intersections between urban planning, psychology, culture, and history. Happy City opens in Bogota, Columbia, where we meet Enrique Peñalosa, whom Montgomery dubs “The Mayor of Happy.” And I say “we meet” Peñalosa, because that is exactly how it feels. Montgomery employs the use of “we” throughout the book to draw the reader into his narrative.[...]
October 07 2014

#IAMTHEGRID: Two Years Later Kennith George Reflects from Wenatchee, WA

“Relevant, innovative and cutting edge” is how Kennith describes The Grid. Nearly two years since blogging, from November 2011 to November 2012, Kennith George was with The Grid in its infancy and has seen it grow. When he began back in November 2011 he was a part-time planning intern near Tacoma, Washington. As part of his plan in pursuing his career goals, he approached The Grid with determination and the knowledge that the internship “would be a short step in my career goals, but important for demonstrating to potential employers that I was truly interested and passionate about urban planning.” Kennith is now a Planner with the Chelan County Department [...]
October 07 2014

Water Outages and Rationing in São Paulo, Brazil Launch Protests

The Movement of Landless Workers (MTST) has been protesting since the afternoon of Thursday [September 25th] outside the headquarters of the Basic Sanitation Company of the State of São Paulo (SABESP) in Pinheiros, west of the capital. Like the protest that ended in violence in Itu (SP) earlier in the week, the movement reports water shortages already imposed in several districts of the city - which the state government has denied for months. On the facebook page for MTST, the following statement was posted: "We live on the outskirts of the city and have faced the challenges of a terrible water supply service, budget cuts and abusive accounting, problems that are constantl[...]

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