Search results for " bike lanes"

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Life Span
Tom Paiva Photography

When the Loma Prieta earthquake collapsed a section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge 24 years ago—a portion of the upper deck buckled, killing one person—California officials deemed the eastern span of the 1936 steel-cantilevered truss bridge seismically unsound. The route is sandwiched between the Hayward Fault to the east and the San Andreas Fault to the west. A new bridge connecting San Francisco and the East Bay was necessary. After 11 years of construction and several major traffic closures, the new ten-lane eastern stretch of the bridge opened on Labor Day.

In 1998, state officials put together a panel to vote on the best design option to replace the 2.2 mile damaged eastern portion of Interstate 80 running from Yerba Buena Island to Oakland. Forgoing a basic solution, the majority voted in favor of a self-anchored suspension bridge, designed by San Franciscobased Donald MacDonald Architects and New York engineering firm Weidlinger Associates. The winning concept prominently features a single 525-foot-tall tower—the design element in which architect Donald MacDonald takes most pride.

 
 

"We slightly tapered the shafts of the tower so as to appear parallel to one another in the approach, and to keep a rhythm and lightness," said MacDonald. A pentagon theme was woven throughout, in the legs of the towers and the piers below, he said.

"The bridge is white, inspired by Oakland's container cranes", explained MacDonald, adding, "cities and bridges can brand themselves through color." The Golden Gate Bridge, cloaked in orange, comes to mind.

The new eastern span is actually comprised of two structural systems: a 1.2 mile concrete skyway and the suspension bridge, with its single loop cable system and tower. The side-by-side decks each contain five lanes flanked by shoulders. There is a temporary pedestrian and bike path on the right side of the eastbound roadway.

 

Engineering firms T.Y. Lin International Group and Moffatt & Nichol Engineers were hired to make MacDonald’s and Weidlinger’s vision a reality. To make the design seismically safe, the bridge would have to ride an earthquake like a wave. The design of the tower required four steel shafts bound together with shear-link beams capable of absorbing the energy of an earthquake. Hinge-pipe beams allow sections of the bridge to expand and contort. The skyway is supported by 160 concrete-battered piles, replacing the timbered piles of the original eastern span.

Light poles installed with more than 48,000 LEDs line the bridge, requiring about 50 percent less energy than the original section. The LEDs have a longer lifespan of 10 to 15 years, and are angled to prevent glare and minimize light pollution.

 

The project was not without its challenges. Originally estimated to take four years to build at a cost of $1.6 billion, the bridge became one of the most expensive projects in the state as the price of steel and concrete rapidly rose, mostly due to the building boom in China. In the end, the bridge has come in at $6.4 billion, with cost overruns funded by a 2007 $1 toll increase and state gas tax dollars.

The bridge may be open, but the work is not finished yet. Broken anchor bolts in the seismic stabilizers that were temporarily repaired with concrete saddles will get a final repair by this December. It will take nine months to remove most of the original eastern span and up to three years to completely demolish the outdated structure. Some portions will be kept, others will be recycled or sold for scrap.

After the original eastern span is removed, construction crews will permanently install a bike and pedestrian path, extending it to Yerba Buena Island. They will also replace a temporary ramp connecting the island to the eastern span. Both projects will be completed in 2015.

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After Weiner Jokes, Questions Remain
Anthony Weiner checks out a Citi Bike.
Courtesy NY1

Newly minted mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is at the top of an uninspiring pack according to some polls. Prior to his self-destructive sex scandal, Weiner had served with some distinction as a liberal firebrand in the US House of Representatives, but, according to some accounts, he had always dreamed of Gracie Mansion.

New York is a famously live-and-let-live city. We enjoy scrutinizing our political scandals, but we also give second chances. Weiner’s personal proclivities are not of much interest to those of us who care about the physical city and hope the new mayor takes up the commitment to improve public space and foster urban sustainability pursued by the Bloomberg Administration. Still, Weiner’s actions raise questions about his judgment.

New York is also a famously hotheaded town. Prior to his underwear debacle, Weiner seemed hell-bent on differentiating himself from Bloomberg by taking on a great menace to the city—at least to the headline and editorial writers of Murdoch’s rags—bike lanes! At a dinner for the New York Congressional delegation, Weiner erupted at Bloomberg, saying, “When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing? I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your (expletive) bike lanes.”

Weiner now claims he was joking and has recently been photographed cruising around town on a Citi Bike. But I’m not so sure we should take him at his word. Senator Charles Schumer—Weiner’s former boss and congressional delegation colleague—and his wife Iris Weinshall, a former Department of Transportation Commissioner under Giuliani, have been on a weird crusade against the Prospect Park West bike lane, a bike lane Weiner objects to for how it looks: “I’m not crazy about the aesthetics of the Prospect Park West bike lane,” he told Capital New York. “You know, that beautiful open boulevard is now more congested.”

Weiner also counts on tremendous financial and political support from the Orthodox Jewish community, support he rewards with extremely hawkish, pro-Israeli statements. Let us not forget that prominent members of the Hasidic and Orthodox communities have opposed bike lanes in their communities, arguably for threatening the insularity of their neighborhoods. Weiner’s position on bike lanes may reflect narrow-minded political commitments over broad-based urbanistic thinking.

Weiner’s comments do not reflect well about his thinking on transportation policy or urban planning. Frankly, they sound dumb. His 64-point “Keys to the City” plan offers one item about bicycling: an anodyne recommendation for businesses to incentivize commuting by bike.

The advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has issued a survey to the mayoral candidates to clarify their views on issues of importance to pedestrians and cyclists. The results are due at the end of July. Let’s hope Weiner, and the other candidates worthy of serious consideration, respond with ideas that are more sophisticated than a headline in the Post.

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Groups Call for People-Friendly Lake Shore Drive Overhaul in Chicago
Lake Shore Drive could look a lot different if a local design alliance gets its way. The "Our Lakefront" plan, commissioned by 15 different organizations including the Active Transportation Alliance, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, would reduce the speed limit on the north branch of Lake Shore Drive from 40 to 35 miles per hour; carve out lanes for bicycles and either bus rapid transit or rail; and replace parking spaces with greenery. Connectivity is a hallmark of the concept. The plan calls for increased lakefront access for both vehicles and pedestrians, perhaps through programmed parks and plazas “serving as access points across Lake Shore Drive and as iconic gateways between the city and the lakefront.” Unlike the southern segment of Lake Shore Drive, which was rebuilt about 10 years ago, this seven-mile stretch of highway is between of 60 and 80 years old. The “Our Lakefront” team says as long as Illinois Department of Transportation officials are considering restoring infrastructure along the road, including several ailing bridges, they may as well as look at restoring the iconic Drive’s original design. “Redefine the Drive,” as they put it. From the Sun-Times:

Lake Shore Drive was originally designed as “a boulevard. It was a pleasure drive early on,’’ said Lee Crandell of the Active Transportation Alliance, among the 15 groups that helped to write the “Our Lakefront” plan.

“It’s slowly turned into a freeway,’’ Crandell said. “We want it to feel like a boulevard.’’

Read the full conceptual plan here. Three public hearings are scheduled this week:
  • Aug. 6, 6 - 8 p.m., Gill Park, 825 W. Sheridan Road, 3rd Floor
  • Aug. 7, 6 - 8 p.m., Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue, Atrium
  • Aug. 8, 6 - 8 p.m., Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, South Gallery
After the meetings, a formal design team will convene to hash out details. If anything is built, it won’t be for years. Daniel Burnham’s vision for Chicago is often evoked here to lend credibility for urban planning proposals. Amid both shrinking budgets and an urban reawakening, landscape and infrastructure projects have become increasingly common and closely watched. UPDATE Aug. 7: This story originally said the plan considered high-speed rail. That was not accurate. From Lee Crandell, director of campaigns for Active Transportation Alliance:

The platform calls for separating transit from car traffic with bus-only lanes and other public transit enhancements, such as Bus Rapid Transit. BRT vehicles are often designed to look similar to light rail vehicles (this is why BRT is sometimes referred to as light rail with rubber wheels), and the drawing does intentionally leave it open to interpretation whether LSD could include something like BRT or light rail.

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Cycling into Times Square: An Update from Architects & Urbanists Riding Across the Country
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] At the beginning of last week we finished the first major leg of the tour - we arrived in New York. After nearly 4,000 miles of riding the group took the Hoboken Ferry to 39th Street, cycled a short way up the West Hudson Greenway and then crosstown into Times Square. The Greenway is one of the best bits of cycling infrastructure in the city and forms part of the Hudson River Park, a series of landscaping and regeneration projects on the site of the old docks and a fantastic new public amenity. The pedestrianisation of Times Square and the cycle route along Broadway are the most visible of the improvements to the public realm engineered over the last decade by the Bloomberg administration, led by the charismatic Department of Transport (DoT) Commissioner Janette Sadik Khan. So popular is the area with pedestrians and tourists that we found it hard to cycle through the crush when we arrived there; but the huge digital screens that cover every building in the Square provided a photogenic backdrop. We were directed by our local film crew to Jimmy’s Corner - a dive bar with a boxing theme which seemed to have the appropriate ambience and we downed a few beers before making our way to our hotel. Everyone seemed in a pensive rather than celebratory mood. The approach to New York through New Jersey had been testing - the cycling conditions some of the worst we had experienced all trip - the temperatures were in the 90s, it had started to rain and the scale of our achievement was taking a bit of time to sink in. The next morning we had an audience with Janette Sadik Khan who when she took over as Commissioner in 2007 set out to ‘green up’ the DoT. This she has done with amazing effect, installing over 300 miles of bike lanes and creating pocket parks and new public spaces where once there were traffic junctions. Even the big bridges of the East Hudson like Brooklyn and Williamsburg have separated cycle paths. Janette recorded a welcome for the P2P riders and signed the baton (made by Christian at A models) which we have carried across the USA and bears the signature of key cycling and transport representatives from each of the major cities we passed through. The toughest riding of the tour was in the Appalachians - although not as high as the Rockies the gradients are steeper (up to 12 per cent). The ridges and valleys sweep up diagonally towards New York and most roads sensibly follow the contours, but in order to stop off in Philadelphia we had to cycle across the grain and climbed ridge after ridge in sweltering heat. In the approaches to the Appalachians lies Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright. The building is a National Historic Landmark and very popular with visitors. One of the benefits of visiting such places in hilly country by bicycle is that the exertion required to get there seems to heighten the senses and increase one’s level of appreciation. We were all much taken with Falling Water - the cantilevered decks, the interiors and the relationship with the landscape, reinforcing our appreciation of Wright following on from our visit to Taliesin East and Johnson Wax. We had planned to have a photo taken outside the Guggenheim the day we arrived in New York but everyone was too tired. My own Wrightian odyssey was completed the next day by going to see the spectacular James Turrell installation there. Turrell’s elliptical forms rising through the space paid the sort of respect to its context that is key to F L-W’s own work, yet is distinct and of its own. I only started to really feel we had properly arrived in New York on Tuesday evening when the New York office of Grimshaw held a party for us. Grimshaw staffers were there in force, Bill Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox was there, as was David Gordon formerly Secretary of the Royal Academy and director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, and Jonathan Wimpenny Chair of the New york Chapter of the RIBA. We auctioned the spare bike we had used when we had breakdowns and Grimshaw generously purchased it for $2000. Next week we are riding across Ireland, Wales and England and arriving into London from Windsor on Saturday July 13.  Come and ride with us from Windsor - or if that’s too far, meet us in Waterloo Place at mid-day and cycle the last mile up Regent Street to Portland Place and then on for drinks at the NLA at 26 Store Street, WC1E 7BT. For details, click Get involved. As we go we are studying the impact of cycling on cities in the US as well as raising money for Article 25, ABS and Architecture for Humanity.
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Discovering Cities: An Update from Architects & Planners Biking Across the Country
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture Center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. As the P2P team gears up for its triumphant arrival in Manhattan on Sunday (June 30th) having completed the U.S. leg of the trip, Peter Murray looks back at some of the highlights of the last week’s riding. ] One of the delights of cycling across the States has been to experience cities whose names were familiar to me but whose contemporary characteristics and qualities were a void. I am ashamed to admit that when first researching our route through Pittsburgh my main ideas of the city were influenced by scenes of Pennsylvania’s shrinking steel industry from Michael Cimino’s 1978 film The Deerhunter. Instead, I found that Pittsburgh is "the regeneration capital of the U.S.," eds and meds have replaced steel and it has a fast-improving bicycle infrastructure. Much of the credit for this last piece of progress must go to the energy of Scott Bricker and Lou Fineberg who founded Bike Pittsburgh just over a decade ago. The city still has a long way to go but it has bike lanes and riverside trails and it is highly probable that the next Mayor will be the Democrat Bill Peduto, who is a strong supporter of better biking. Of buildings in the city, we much enjoyed H. H. Richardson’s powerful Allegheny Courthouse and Jail with its rough stone masonry and Romanesque detailing. Columbus, Ohio was another city I knew little about and often confused for Columbus, Indiana. We managed to find Peter Eisenman’s seminal decon Wexner Centre with its crashing grids, iconic plan, and instantly recognizable "chess piece" turrets. Passing Eisenman’s new convention center in the city, one gets the impression that he is more comfortable working at the smaller scale of the art gallery rather than the multiblock behemoth of the convention center. I left the ride for a few days to fulfill a speaking engagement in London and planned to rejoin the cyclists in Cincinnati and flew to Indianapolis confident that I could take the train to Cincinnati. However it turned out that they only run three times a week! The consequences of—to a European eye—the States' appalling underinvestment in rail transport can be seen in the striking Cincinnati Union Terminal. A giant juke box of a building designed by Alfred Fellheimer and completed in 1933. It has largely been taken over, perhaps appropriately, by an exhibition about dinosaurs, with one small side platform allocated to the trains. Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati is (for her) a restrained building which sits happily in the city block, although internally rather too much has been squeezed into too small a space. Michael Graves’s Engineering Center over at the University of Cincinnati was very grand, and I was surprised to hear later that Bernard Tschumi had designed one of the sports building which I had passed by without realising it had such a pedigree. We cycled round the Over-the-Rhine district, scene of the 2001 riots and now an area of major regeneration which reminded us of similar areas in London like Shoreditch and Spitalfields. Indianapolis has also gone through major regeneration in recent years, it has a vibrant downtown area, new convention center and the massive Lucas Oil Stadium designed by HKS with a brick facade that dominates the city. The architects used bricks to relate to the historic core but there was little they could do about the size of the building. The piece of design that most attracted us as cyclists was the the landscaping and bicycle paths. These have been designed to reflect their relationship with the city rather than selected from the stabdard traffic engineer’s catalogue. I struggle in each of these cities with the number of car parking sites which leave huge gaps in the urban fabric and destroy any feeling of place. In Cincinnati this has been ameliorated by a program of murals on blank walls, but maybe as more people take to bicycles and demand for car parking space reductions they will be developed to form a coherent part of the city.
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Minneapolis, Cycling City: An Update From Architects & Urbanists Biking Across the Country
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] We liked Minneapolis—it ended our sojourn in the wilderness of South Dakota, we saw some nice things, met a lot of cool people and the biking there is great! On our journey plan we had highlighted the fact that the city was host to a bevy of starchitects—Herzog and de Meuron with the 2005 Walker Art Gallery extension, Jean Nouvel with the Guthrie Theater of 2006, and Frank Gehry at the Weisman Museum which opened in 2011. H&deM’s gallery is their signature decorated rhomboidal shed with aluminum-mesh cladding panels stamped with a pattern of creases, while Nouvel’s is definitely a duck, its cylindrical forms reflecting the concrete silos on adjoining sites and its industrial detailing referencing the mills that once lined the Mississippi River at this point and created the wealth of the 19th century city. A gymnastic cantilever projecting out over the river provides spectacular views to St. Anthony Falls. As he did in London at One New Change and Reina Sofia in Madrid, Nouvel has delivered a popular new public space that enhances the visitor’s experience of the city. However, our local guides were keener to point out the picturesque ruins of the largest flour mill in the world, destroyed by a flour dust explosion and into which local architects Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle have sensitively inserted a contemporary office building. But the highlight of our tour was the Christ Church Lutheran designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1948 with an extension by Eero twenty or so years later. The interior is beautifully crafted in brick with a simple curved screen at the altar end flooded with south light. We had come to Minneapolis to study its cycling infrastructure—and we were impressed. Our group of 13 riders pedalled along the Midtown Greenway, a traffic-free cycle route which runs on a defunct railway line right through the heart of the city, then on to bicycle boulevards—lower-volume, slow speed streets with safe crossings which felt very comfortable to ride in. Bike lanes in the city are comprehensive in the central area and we found it easy to get around. Last year Bicycling Magazine named Minneapolis America’s “No 1 Bike City,” beating Portland, Oregon, despite the fact that the city experiences ferocious winters and riders have to fit studded tires in icy periods. Nearly four percent of Minneapolis residents bike to work according to Census data—an increase of 33 percent since 2007, and 500 percent since 1980. Two particularly interesting points, emerged from our conversations—that, like the High Line, the Midtown Greenway is a major generator of new residential development, and, like New York, most of the cycling infrastructure had been put in within the last decade—much quicker than most European cycling cities. These are just two lessons among the many we will be taking back to London to promote more and better cycling infrastructure in the UK capital.
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Where Are Chicago's Most Bikeable Neighborhoods?
Steven Vance, editor of StreetsBlog Chicago and frequent contributor to AN, dug through Walk Score's breakdown of the most bikeable neighborhoods in Chicago. The rankings are based on several factors, including the prevalence of bike lanes, connectivity, commuting mode share and hills. It also considers the number of neighborhood destinations and, as Vance points out, may consider a shared lane marking as a bike lane. That led to the Illinois Medical District’s surprising fourth place ranking, tailing East Ukrainian Village, Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park. See the national list of WalkScore.com’s most bikeable neighborhoods here, and read StreetsBlog’s post here.
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Seattle, San Francisco, Hoboken Reveal New Bike Share Details
With summer just around the corner, bicyclists are getting excited to try out the new bike-share systems being installed in many cities across the nation. After initial delays, New York City's bike-share program is set to open by the end of the month, and San Francisco, Seattle, and Hoboken have similar plans of their own on the horizon. San Francisco: SPUR reports that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District signed a contract with Alta Bike Share to spin the wheels on a bike-sharing program for San Francisco. Alta Bike Share runs similar bike programs in Washington, D.C. and Boston and will be the operator of new programs in New York and Chicago this year. San Francisco plans a two-year pilot program consisting of 700 bikes in 70 locations that will launch this summer throughout the San Jose to San Francisco region. Last year the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition set a goal of 20 percent of trips in the city on bike by 2020 and now, after several delays, the plan will be the first regional program in the country. Seattle: Considering Seattle’s distinctive challenges of hills and mandatory helmets, Alta Bicycle Share has devised a plan for the city’s bike-share program that includes seven-speed bikes rather than the standard three-speed ones, reported BikePortland.  The Portland-based Alta, adding to their bike share empire across the country, will also employ an integrated helmet vending system to accommodate the city’s mandatory helmet law. The city’s bike-share program will consist of 500 bikes distributed throughout 50 stations. The program will launch by the start of 2014 and continue to develop throughout the Puget Sound region. Hoboken: The City of Hoboken, in partner with E3Think, Bike And Roll, and Social Bicycles, across the Hudson from Manhattan, is also getting into the bike share game with a system radically different from most other cities: the “hybrid” bike-share plan. The six-month pilot program employs traditional bike rentals, but users reserve bikes online and, unlike the majority of existing bike-share systems that depend on “Smart-Dock” bike racks for storage, Hoboken's program utilizes a “Smart-Lock” method. The city hopes this approach will be more affordable and permit further development of the system. Bicycle repair stations, more bike lanes, and additional bike racks have bolstered the city’s campaign to become more bike-friendly.
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Main Street USA: An Update From Architects & Urbanists Biking Across the Country
psp_update_01 [ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] Cycling through the small towns of Idaho and Montana provides useful lessons for the English visitor about the growth of settlements in the US and allows interesting comparisons with the development of urban structure in Britain. While we in the UK have high streets, they are a very different sort of place to main streets. English settlements often developed around market squares, their structure defined by the relationship between the church and the ‘big house’ occupied by the feudal landlord as well as topographical features and land ownership. The main streets of places we have cycled through in the last couple of weeks clearly grew up initially to service the needs of the traveller and retained their preeminence in the urban fabric because of the ubiquitous grid plan—a form promoted by Penn because he beleived it would prevent the outbreaks of fire and disease that bedevilled European cities in the 16th and 17th centuries. So as we followed the Lewis and Clark trail we came to towns like Kamiah, once the winter home of the Native-American tribe Nez Perce and now a tourist center with a main street remodelled along Western/Victorian theme. The wide main street is the heart of the place lined with two-story buildings with cut-out profiles that, to the tourist look as though they should be fronted with a board walk and somewhere to hitch your horse. We visited Bozeman, Montana. A look at the map confirms Main Street’s preeminence among city’s streets. We had been told of Bozeman’s hippy/liberal tendencies, largely on the basis that it is a university town. However the impression from Main Street was that this was a well-to-do town with its buildings in good repair, its shops and restaurants prosperous and an almost European intensity of street use with cyclists, pedestrians and cafe tables on the sidewalk. One American architect in the party—now working in London—described the look of Bozeman as "art directed" with its neat brickwork, refurbished buildings and tasteful color palette. The following day we cycled up Main Street in Reed Point—the home of the Great Montana Sheep Drive, past a tumble down bar that boasted "Indians and mountain men welcome here" and were accosted by a local who believed all cyclists to be dangerous lefties. Being British was even worse: “Why don’t you commies go to Iraq or Iran instead of coming here?” When it was suggested that the United Kingdom was not a communist state, the riposte was “No guns - no freedom!” Nothing of the sort, of course, happened when we went through Missoula. Described by the locals as a "spot of blue in a sea of red," it certainly had more of a hippy feel to it than Bozeman, less art directed, with buskers on the streets and offers of grass outside bars in the evening. Most importantly for us it is the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association who provide excellent information for long distance riders, particularly those going across the continent. The cycling provision in the center of town was fair enough, with bike lanes and a path along the Clark Fork River. However, in the outer areas the infrastructure for cyclists was non-existent with some of the most dangerous conditions we have yet encountered.
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Apple Makes Adjustments To Silicon Valley Campus Proposal
Apple's spaceship-like campus plans, designed by Foster and Partners, have been criticized for—among other other things— a lack of pedestrian friendly design. It appears the company has listened. New documents presented to the city of Cupertino show extended bike paths, winding walkways and private roads both circling the grounds and running through the center of the campus.  The bike lanes would have buffer lanes to protect them from cars, pedestrian walkways would have increased lighting, a transit center would be the focal point for buses, and the plans also make room for public art projects. Not all the changes are eco/pedestrian friendly. The new design calls for an increase in parking spaces from 10,500 to 10,980. Slated for completion in 2016, the campus has also been in the news for budget overruns and delays, with Bloomberg Businessweek reporting its cost ballooning from $3 billion to $5 billion. The first phase of the campus is scheduled to be complete by 2016.The original date was 2015. apple_update_01 apple_update_02 apple_update_03 apple_update_04 apple_update_07 apple_update_08 apple_update_09 apple_update_06
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Put the Pedal to the Metal
A convenient, well-designed bicycle parking area in Chicago.
Steven Vance

While riding a bike around Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood I spotted a recently opened big box store’s bike parking area. The glint off the stainless steel racks caught my eye. I pedaled over for a closer look and saw immediately that this was the best bike parking design for a building of its size in the city in recent years, and better than the setups at the big box company’s other stores. It was sheltered, close to the entrance, visible from the street, and incorporated easy-to-use racks. During my three-year internship for the city as a bike-parking planner, this little but significant part of urban infrastructure became part of my blood. Needless to say, I was impressed, but I was concerned, too, with the lesser designs at the chain’s other stores.

It was then that I wanted to better understand how architects—be they in-house or consulting—affect the promulgation and use of sustainable transportation, including shopping by bike. I called the company’s public relations department to uncover what led to this store having bike parking worth celebrating, but instead I got a boilerplate response that “environmental sustainability is integrated throughout our business.” They rebuffed my further inquiries so I kept looking for enlightenment on the connection between architecture and sustainable transportation.

An architect can too easily pick out bike racks from a catalog and place them on the building site within the regulations of Chicago’s zoning code. A city like Chicago demands more. Mayors, current and past, have committed Chicago to becoming a more sustainable city, one with greater use of bicycling and transit, more walking, and less pollution. In what ways can the architecture profession grow sustainable transportation?

The planning process for the Bloomingdale Trail.
Kate Joyce Studios
 

Don Semple, an architectural intern for Krueck + Sexton in Chicago, agrees that building additions like bike rooms, including complementary lockers and showers, is a great way to promote sustainable transportation. “My firm additionally promotes sustainable transportation through usage. We have a dedicated office bike available for any staff to use to get to meetings around town.” This level of sustainable transportation integration seems like small change when the city needs to get thousands of more people to drive less in order to meet its emission goals. Semple took the discussion further, emphasizing site selection. Krueck + Sexton typically advises clients on what land they should purchase, analyzing each site’s available transportation. “We try to push clients,” he said, “toward sites with greater potential transportation assets.”

Then there’s the situation in which the site has already been selected, which, during my research, seemed to occur more often than not. What can you do for an existing site? Carol Ross Barney told me, “You have to build the right team of engineers and planners.” As the founder of Ross Barney Architects in Chicago, Barney works on institutional and governmental projects, some of which are facilities and systems purely about moving people. “It’s like any collaboration,” she said. “You bring your ideas to the table, and you defend them. What’s exciting, though, is that any project that is or has a discrete transportation component is exactly the kind architects are always looking for because everything should be designed.” In essence, any building or site can be designed to make getting there (by bus, bike, or feet) easier or more comfortable.

I’d like to believe that this is what the architects at the big box company were thinking when they had to draw out where bike parking would go and how people would use it. Instead of engineering the space by catalog or a formula, they considered their customers’ comfort and perhaps convinced accountants that their design was worth the money. Or maybe the architect worked with an urban planner to recognize Chicagoans’ transportation needs, which may have informed them to install more capacity than they had before at other stores.

What if the project an architect has been hired to do is the transportation asset itself? How do you make it great and maximize its use? Ross Barney mentioned that you can correct and improve existing systems. Her firm worked on the Bloomingdale Trail project, that converts an elevated, abandoned rail line into a nearly three-mile long linear park and multi-use trail through several moderately dense neighborhoods. In a review of the design and planning process last year, I called it the best I’d seen in my six-year residence in Chicago. Ross Barney Architects crafted that process for the Chicago Department of Transportation. “We were asked, ‘Can you create a process that will constructively collect people’s opinions?’” The project connects to several bus and train lines, bike lanes, and parks, while running within feet of people’s homes. At several meetings, I watched residents bring their complaints and ideas directly to the architects and planners.

How does one strengthen the link between architecture and sustainable transportation? Ross Barney stressed the importance of relationships, which was evident in the Bloomingdale Trail project. “We designed a system that got citizens to contribute,” she said.

Semple believes that architects tend to be on the back end of transportation design. He says the days of Daniel Burnham are gone and city planning is often delegated to traffic engineers and politicians. “I would love to see a renaissance of architects being involved in large-scale city planning,” said Semple. “We bring more balanced sensibilities.”

The cooperative relationship between sustainable transportation and architecture must expand. Frequent collaboration will close the gap, moving the two professions beyond their previously narrow scope limitations and creating sustainable cities.

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Construction of Expanded Brooklyn Greenway Underway
With the arrival of the Citi Bike share program just around the corner, and the Regional Planning Association’s Harbor Ring proposal gaining momentum, New York’s cycling community can now set its sights on the Brooklyn Greenway. The proposed 14 miles of bike lanes running from Bay Ridge to Greenpoint aim to provide a safe route for cyclists and pedestrians wishing to cross the borough. As Gothamist reported, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) is preparing to begin construction on three more sections of the path, in Red Hook, Greenpoint, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In Red Hook, a connection is set to be forged between Columbia Street and Louis Valentino Jr. Park, with added bike lanes on Van Brunt, Imlay, Conover, and Ferris Streets. (See greenway map here.) TNYCDOT is ready to begin construction on the $12.5 million project this summer. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported bike lanes have been approved along West Street in Greenpoint, while existing routes are set to be widened along Flushing Avenue by the Brooklyn Navy Yards. With a cost of $10 and $8 million respectively, these two projects are slated for completion in 2014.