August 29 2014

Strasbourg, France Tests Reduced Traffic Fines for Cyclists – Are They Effective?

Since November 2012, Strasbourg, France has been experimenting with reduced fines, created exclusively for cyclists. Instead of paying a fine of 90 euros, cyclists benefit from a tariff of 45.60 euros, used for ten different infractions. Two years later, where are we? Are these fines actually effective? Two years ago, Strasbourg became the object of media buzz when the city decided to put these reduced fines in place. The goal of these measures, jointly put in place by the city, the prefect of Bas-Rhin, and the district attorney, was to reduce the number of accidents, but also to propose a more reasonable penalty. The reduced fine is half as much as that p[...]
August 27 2014

Taking Inspiration from Central Park: The European Quarter of Brussels, Belgium

A “Central Park” for Brussels? Busy in her office in the city’s Place Royale, Marie-Laure Roggemans stops for a bit when someone says these magic words. “I always think about it,” she says while smiling behind her large glasses. Known as “Madame Europe,” Roggemans ensures contact between the Brussels-Capital Region and European authorities. Of course, she is not hoping to grow a rectangle of 300 hectares dedicated to leisure in the heart of the capital. Her dream is for Brussels to take inspiration from the role that the Manhattan park plays. “Essentially, it is a site that combines walking paths, ponds, and large cultural facilities... When you go to Central Park, you know that[...]
August 27 2014

San Francisco’s Mission District: The Controversial Gentrification

A walk through the heart of San Francisco’s historic Mission District is typically charged with the activity of crowded sidewalk fruit markets, lively music, and the smells from taquerías and pupusas. While this energy is still present, it is steadily being muted by the invasion of San Francisco’s love and woe: the “techie." They have elevated the city’s economy and placed San Francisco on the map as a technology epicenter, but some feel this “tech-boom” has diluted the vibrant diversity which makes San Francisco’s the city that it is. With tech powerhouses such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook making their homes in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, the cost of living [...]
August 27 2014

Has MARC Weekend Train Service Benefited the Baltimore Region?

The Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) train service has long served commuters in central Maryland. Before last year, MARC trains along the Penn Line ran exclusively on weekdays to serve commuters working traditional 9-5 jobs in the Baltimore region. Riders with a less than traditional, weekend commute had to pay Amtrak’s $16 fares compared with MARC’s week day $7 fares from Penn Station in Baltimore to Union Station in D.C. However, in December 2013, the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) announced it would extend MARC train service along the Penn Line to run nine round-trips on Saturdays and six round-trips on Sundays, with capacity limited to three-car tr[...]
August 26 2014

Lyon, France to Welcome its First Vertical Urban Farm: Ferme Urbaine Lyonnaise

Last Thursday, engineers, researchers, and other Lyon architects presented the project FUL (Ferme Urbaine Lyonnaise), which could produce more than 600,000 salads per year, starting in the summer of 2016. While on the North American continent urban horticulture exploits already exist, this Lyon project could constitute a first for France. This first urban farm would appeal to a completely innovative cultivation technology based on hydroponics: that is to say, indoor cultivation, under climate control, reproducing outdoor lighting, hygrometric, temperature and wind conditions. In the first place, the testing, which will debut throughout 2016, should consist of time devoted t[...]
August 26 2014

Bordeaux, France Encouraging Public Transportation Users to Walk Instead of Ride?

In order to relieve congestion on downtown tramway lines, a marketing campaign plans to suggest that users of Bordeaux’s TBC choose to walk between certain stations. It’s the world turned upside down: a public transportation operator inciting its customers to walk rather than use the tramway! This is what Keolis, manager of the TBC network in the urban community of Bordeaux, is getting ready to do at the beginning of the school year. Beginning September 16th, and for the duration of one month, the owner will launch a large marketing campaign entitled “Marche a Suivre” (a play-on-words, literally meaning “the procedure to follow,” but [...]
August 25 2014

Architecture Not Built for Function in Galway, Ireland

The design of buildings has always been contentious, whether the disagreement stems from aesthetic complaints, or disregard for the functionality of the building. For example, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which can be argued as one of the design and engineering wonders of the world, was once labeled “a mast of iron gymnasium apparatus, incomplete, confused and deformed” by the famous French poet, Francois Coppée. In Galway, Ireland there are several examples of excellent building design, but often these are not compatible with the way the buildings will be used. An example of this is the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology’s Learning Center, constructed in 2003. Th[...]
August 25 2014

The Future Pie-IX Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit System of Montreal, Canada

Introduction Pie-IX Boulevard is one of the Montreal metro area’s most frequented roadways. It passes by important locations such as the Parc Olympique, the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, and educational institutions. It is on this corridor that the City of Montreal wants to set up a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) in the coming years in order to transport more than 70,000 passengers daily. This project is being directed jointly with the AMT (Metropolitan Transport Agency) and is one of the Transportation Plan’s most important developments. The City of Montreal will be responsible for the reclassification and urban development of Pie-IX Boulevard in order to create a new,[...]
August 25 2014

The Magical Shopping Experience and Improvised Street Art of Milan, Italy

Have you ever walked along the streets of a city and had a song playing in your head? Italian cities, with their impressive architecture and noisy lifestyle, inspire music above all else. The cities' streets, buildings, cathedrals, and little squares all play a part of the urban soundtrack of each city. Even though Milan is not the typical Italian city due to its strong industrial past, it still inspires its visitors. With a reputation for international design, Milan concentrates its cultural resources on the perimeter of the city center. The Duomo Cathedral, Novecento Museum, Royal Palace of Milan, Vittorio Emanuele Galleries, [...]
August 22 2014

In Plessis-Gassot Garbage Provides First-ever Source of Methane Energy in France

The commune of Plessis-Gassot [in the Île de France region] has just opened a power plant that will furnish the amount of energy equivalent to the consumption of 41,200 households, thanks to methane produced by the fermentation of non-recyclable waste. This is a first for France and a shining example of an original initiative. Power generated from garbage Situated next to the garbage dump in the commune of Plessis-Gassot, a powerplant that produces biogas made from garbage was inaugurated in June, 2014. It’s name? Electr’od. The process is simple: it consists of leaving non-recyclable waste to ferment in the absence of oxy[...]
August 22 2014

We Have LRT, Now What? Ottawa’s Next Transit Challenge

In 2018, Ottawa’s new light rail transit (LRT), the thirteen station Confederation Line, will go into service. Arriving in Ottawa, I was impressed to see the Canadian city making progress on transit, instead of getting mired in debates about what kind to build and wavering between proposals, as has been the case in Toronto. Ottawa’s success comes in part from the decision to upgrade a system that already worked very well: The Transitway. The Transitway is a thirty-five km bus rapid transit (BRT) system that spans the entire city, connecting the farthest suburbs to the city’s core. Local buses feed into the Transitway which, running on separated and dedicated rights-of-way,[...]
August 21 2014

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014: Versailles, France Explores Dwellings of the Future

Following two years of work - from the conception to the construction of the 1-to-1 scale buildings - and 17 days of exhibition and competition in the gardens of Versailles Palace, on July 12, 2014, the 800 participants of the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 competition saw the prizes of the competition awarded. Press Release: Organized under the aegis of the Housing Ministry with support from those of Ecology, Culture, Higher Education and Research, implemented by CSTB, the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 allowed for discovering the talent, knowhow and technical competences of 800 students, from 16 countries and 3 continents, who innovate in order to create a more moderate habitat, more respectful of natur[...]
August 21 2014

8,000 Families in Minas Gerais, Brazil Face Mass Eviction & Displacement

More than 8,000 families will be evicted from their homes without alternative accommodation in the near future. The government of the state of Minas Gerais said that they are planning a "mega-operation" that will dislodge the families of three communities of the Isidoro region in the city of Belo Horizonte. Legal experts say the process has not yet ended and expulsion is considered irregular. The communities affected by the eviction will be Vitória, Rosa Leão and Esperança, which originally arose spontaneously, but are organized urban occupations today. Residents tried to strike an agreement with the Municipality of Belo Horizonte and the Minas Gerais governmen[...]
August 20 2014

Redevelopment & Community Garden Controversy in La Querelle, Brussels, Belgium

The neighborhood of la Querelle, located in the heart of Les Marolles, is due to benefit from a profound renewal. This construction, which will be launched soon, is bound to offer a better living environment for the tenants of various tower blocks, as well as to all residents of this historic neighborhood. Born from a partnership between the region of Brussels-Capital, the City of Brussels, and the Foyer Bruxellois real estate corporation, this large project is expected to include a thorough renovation of the Tanneurs-Lavoir building as well as the redevelopment of the la Querelle square, the complete renovation of various towers (façades, insulation, and frames), the refurbis[...]
August 19 2014

Self-Service Scooters are the Next Form of Communal Transportation in Paris?

The parisian family of environmentally-friendly vehicles could very well be enlarged! After the famous Vélib’, self-service bikes, and Autolib’, public electric car sharing service, Scootlib’is set to be the next to enlarge the ranks of alternatives for getting around the capital. Zoom with Scootlib’, Paris’ self-service scooters! Self-Service Scooters The City of Paris has expressed the desire to make it so that in several years, residents of the capital largely abandon their individual means of transport to circulate solely with those vehicles owned by the city. Following Velib’ and Autolib,’ enter Scootlib’. In order to meet their goal, what better than to pr[...]
August 19 2014

The Bicycle: More Popular than Ever in Quebec, Canada!

The bicycle is one of the most popular pastimes in Quebec, Canada. Moreover, with 750 bikes per 1,000 inhabitants, Quebec's biking environment looks like that of northern European countries. A great admirer of biking and creator of the informational website ADN du Velo, Jean-Pierre Huot remarks on the growing interest of the people of Quebec in the two-wheeled fixture. "You just need to look at the statistics of Velo Quebec; the growth is there." He notes an exponential rise in events related to biking. Furthermore, the summer calendar on his website counts 106 participatory events (not including competitive events). "This was not the case a year ago. It's constantly growing. T[...]
August 19 2014

Thessaloniki, Greece’s Twelve Apostles’ Square is Changing

The project had an initial budget of 937,500 Euros and an actual of 478,787 Euros, and is expected to be completed within nine months. The contract, which was signed on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, included the rehabilitation of Paparrigopoulou, Saint Apostles and Olympou Streets; the small path that crosses between the Walls. It also included interventions to the road surface, the pedestrianization of the small street Amazonon, the construction of a staircase at the intersection of Saint Dimitriou and Amazonon Streets, the redesign of the square that is in front of the Twelve Apostles’ Church, one that is located on the pillar of the Byzantine Nunnery and, last but not least, the enrichment of the are[...]
August 19 2014

Rio de Janeiro Creates New Urban Policy Organization for Mayorial Cooperation

Over the course of the next decade, the number of industries and logistics companies (who look after the transport and storage of goods) is expected to double in the state of Rio Grande, Brazil. The question for planners is how to decide which areas are best suited to receive these new ventures in a densely urbanized region. The trajectory of this kind of urbanization will now be decided by the new Metropolitan Chamber of Government Integration (CIG), which was formally created on August 11th by a decree issued by the governor, Luiz Fernando Pezão. The governor and the mayors of the metropolitan area will form the IGC, which will have an Executive Technical Group formed by the Sta[...]
August 18 2014

Evaluating 10 Years of Redevelopment: Urban Renewal in Clichy-sous-Bois, France

Rows of low-rise buildings and litter have disappeared from the field of view of residents living in the neighborhoods of Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil. At the end of an ambitious urban renewal project begun ten years ago, this neighborhood located in the Seine-Saint-Denis department just outside of Paris is barely recognizable. “They had to change something, they could not abandon us,” says Sandrine Dejesus in her new 96m2 duplex home. In 2005, the most serious riots in the history of France’s suburbs erupted beneath her windows. Now, she can walk down the quiet streets with their new buildings, with her three year old boy in her arms. The End of the Ghetto [...]
August 18 2014

Expo 2015: Making or Breaking the City of Milan, Italy?

Milan, Italy has been chosen to host the Universal Exhibition in 2015. Expo 2015 will take place from May 1, 2015 until October 31, 2015, and is set to draw millions of visitors from Italy and all over the world. The event provides a showcase for important urban development and job opportunities. It also focuses on fundamental issues concerning humanity such as sustainability, the environment, and transportation. The theme of Expo Milano 2015 is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” a topic that reflects the challenge of finding th[...]

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