Search results for " bike lanes"

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Runners vs. Bikers at VanCortlandt's Putnam Trail
The hullabaloo over Brooklyn bike lanes at Prospect Park subsided continues as strong as ever, but a new bike controversy has been brewing up in the Bronx over the past few months. The drama centers on Parks Department plans to pave over Van Cortlandt Park's Putnam Trail, a path that was originally cleared for a rail line more than a century ago. The new plan was spurred by the "Rails to Trails" movement. The path, much beloved by the runners, has spurred some mudslinging by the pro-dirt contingent against “an elite, mostly out-of-borough handful," as trail lover Michael Burke put it in an Op-ed piece for The Riverdale Press back in December. The runners have been fighting back by gathering over a thousand letters and nearly 600 signatures through their Save the Putnam Trail Facebook page. The group argues that a stone dust surface would be far more eco-friendly than the proposed asphalt and would cut the projected $2.4 million budget for the project in half. The group says its not anti-bike, just anti-asphalt and a stone dust path would suit wheels just fine. For their part, Parks said that the their plan would open the trail to all users by providing a dirt path for runners, creating a lane for bikers and making the path ADA accessible. The new trail would be a contiguous path connecting to a paved path in Westchester County and the citywide greenways. Van Cortlandt park administrator Margot Perron said in a statement that stone dust is much more difficult for wheelchairs, strollers and bicycles to navigate than a hard surface and requires much more maintenance. UPDATE 2/15:  On the Save the Putnam Trail site yesterday, Meg Riordan reports that she spotted machinery preparing the trail for the paving. "From an ecological view, I am also confounded as to 'how' adding more impervious surfaces - to replace dirt - benefits the natural wooded habitat," she writes. A spokesperson from Parks pointed out that new drainage will carry runoff. Also, four hundred saplings and 42 young trees will be added and invasive species will be cleared away. The project will last one year.  
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Legislative Update> Transit, Biking, Walkability, Preservation & the Environment at Risk
It's becoming clear how Congress' approval ratings keep dropping to new historic lows—the latest Gallup Poll released yesterday puts it at a squat ten percent—when the legislative body continues to threaten policies not just architects but also the general public hold near and dear. Now, as key transportation bills that set funding for all national infrastructure--including roads, transit, shipping, pipelines, and even sidewalks--prepare for a votes in the House of Representatives and Senate as soon as the coming week, we're seeing transit, biking, walkability, the environment, and historic preservation all at risk. Here's a roundup of the latest: Among the chief concerns of the House's HR7 bill, otherwise known as the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, is that dedicated funding for transit, biking, and walkability is eliminated. That includes funding requirements for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) programs that promote alternative transportation, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and the Safe Routes to School program.  But that's not the end of it; Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic has a great write-up of all the bill's problems. For instance, on why funding is being eliminated for transit, bikes, and pedestrians in the first place:
The members of the committee determined that to remedy the fact that gas taxes have not been increased since 1993, the most appropriate course was not to raise the tax (as would make sense considering inflation, more efficient vehicles, and the negative environmental and congestion-related effects of gas consumption) but rather to transfer all of its revenues to the construction of highways. Public transit, on the other hand, would have to fight for an appropriation from the general fund, losing its traditional guarantee of funding and forcing any spending on it to be offset by reductions in other government programs.
Highway cost overruns not covered by the gas tax could be paid for by up to $2 billion from drilling for oil in coastal waters, including areas in the Gulf hit by the massive BP oil spill,and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The New York Times recently blasted the GOP bill that Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman himself, called "the worst transportation bill I've ever seen during 35 years of public service." He also told Politico, "It also is the most anti-safety bill I have ever seen...It hollows out the guts of the transportation efforts that we've been about for the last three years." With a vote imminent, groups from Transportation for America to the National Resources Defense Council declared today a national day of action to get in touch with your elected officials and voice your opinion about the bills. AIA President Jeff Potter is among those concerned that current transportation bills are flawed. “While we are gratified that both the House and the Senate are moving ahead on transportation bills, there are some provisions that would take our communities in the wrong direction,” said Potter. “We urge Congress to continue working on a truly bipartisan bill that helps meet the design and construction industry goals: hold funding levels steady, support multiple modes of transportation, and account for the many enhancements that well-planned transportation projects can bring to communities throughout this great nation.” While the AIA praised the Senate for including provisions that assist in planning mixed-use communities around transit, it worries that by removing dedicated transit funding, those planning capabilities are jeopardized. From the AIA's official statement:
The AIA is concerned that provisions in bills that have passed House committees would hurt a community’s ability to plan. This is especially true for provisions in the Ways and Means bill that remove transit from the trust fund and provisions in the Transportation and Infrastructure committee’s bill that prevent communities from using funds for preservation and re-use of historic facilities.
Historic preservation is at risk in the Senate's S. 1813: MAP-21. Here's the gist of the problem from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Transportation Enhancements (TE), the single largest source of federal funding for historic preservation, is still under siege. ... MAP-21 (S. 1813) eliminates dedicated funding for TE, forcing the program to compete with other types of road projects that do not possess the same job creation or cultural heritage benefits as preservation-oriented TE projects. In addition, we anticipate harmful amendments that would further weaken the program. To make matters worse, the outlook for TE is even bleaker in the House. Current proposals not only eliminate the funding set aside but also eliminate the preservation-related categories of the TE program entirely. This is why it is critical to get favorable TE language into the Senate bill.
The National Trust has also called for concerned citizens to contact their legislators about the proposal. You can read more about the connection between preservation and transportation at the Trusts's Preservation Nation blog.
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Commonalities
David Chipperfield.
Giorgio Zucchiatti, Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia

Planning for the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale is in high gear with only a few months to go until opening day on August 29.

There is nothing common either about the gilt and canal-veined city or the event held every 24 months in the extravagantly-scaled Arsenale where the mighty Venetian fleet was built in the 14th century. And yet Common Ground is the title that this year’s director, British architect David Chipperfield, has announced as his guiding theme.

“I want this Biennale to celebrate a vital, interconnected architectural culture, and pose questions about the intellectual and physical territories that it shares,” said Chipperfield in a statement, adding that his biennale will emphasize collaboration and dialogue, in the way that Kazuyo Seijima at the 2010 biennale emphasized people and Aaron Betsky in 2008 stressed alternative media over building.

Chipperfield’s more earth-bound approach seems poised to address the continuities in architectural practice rather than experimentation with a promise that a closer look at architecture in context will be revealing. “I do not want to lose the subject of architecture in a morass of sociological, psychological or artistic speculation, but to try to develop the understanding of the distinct contribution that architecture can make in defining the common ground of the city,” he said standing at a press conference alongside Paolo Baratta, long-time president of the Venice Biennale.

Key to Chipperfield’s Common Ground will be a tag-team approach wherein invited contributors will be asked to call on others to join. The much-admired President Baratta who at one point last fall had seemed on the verge of being deposed from the event, noted that this will be the second time in a row on recent years that an architect has run the show.

The Common Good is embedded in the approach taken by the Institute of Urban Design, curator of the U.S. Pavilion as in “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.” The emphasis here is on “the nascent movement of architects, designers, planners, artists, and everyday community members initiating their own projects to bring positive change to the urban realm” according to a recent press release.

Projects reflecting social engagement will be featured such as guerrilla bike lanes, community gardens, urban farms, pop-up markets, crowd-sourced urban planning, and something called “chair bombing.” Those with interventions of their own are encouraged to submit to the website, Spontaneous Interventions by February 6 for consideration by the U.S. pavilion curators, Cathy Lang Ho, former editor of AN; Ned Cramer, editor-in-chief of Architect; and curatorial strategist David van der Leer, assistant curator of architecture and design at the Guggenheim Museum.

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Zoning and you
Green markets, bike lanes, the design of street life—New York City zoning aims to impact your quality of life. "In the Bloomberg administration, as wielded by the New York City Planning Commission and its director, Amanda Burden, zoning has assumed a more activist role than ever before," writes AN Executive Editor Julie Iovine about the ambitions of zoning 50 years after the New York Zoning Resolution was passed. Read the full article, "Zoning Grows Up," in The Wall Street Journal.  
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Quick Clicks> Postal Nostalgia, Storing & Riding Bikes, Pocket Parks, & Zaha
  Postal nostalgia. During the Great Depression, the WPA built a post office with a tile roof, marble steps, and an intricate mural in Venice, CA.  The LA Times noted that the historic post office may now close down due to USPS budget cuts, much to the chagrin of Venice residents. A place for bikes.  The number of indoor bicycle storage rooms at offices is slowly increasing throughout New York City.  Though expensive to maintain and space consuming, the NY Times asserted the presence of a bike room benefits the real estate industry (by increasing interest) as well as residents. Biking Memphis.  StreetsBlog reports Memphis Mayor AC Wharton has proposed 55 miles of bike lanes to be inserted into existing streets.  Local businesses are subsequently concerned about slower traffic. Parking in LA.  The LA Times reported LA Mayor Villaraigosa has announced he wants to build 50 “pocket parks” in the next two years.  First on the agenda, is the construction of several parks ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet in Southern Los Angeles that begins next month. Hadid no diva.  Zaha Hadid sat down with Newsweek and Daily Beast editor Tina Brown to discuss her life, her career, and her reputation.
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CityLights Finally Begin to See Daylight
Approximately six years after Thomas Phifer and Partners, the Office for Visual Interaction, and Werner Sobek won the CityLights competition for a new standard streetlight, some of the first examples are popping up in Lower Manhattan. The design for LED streetlights was cutting edge at the time, and the technology was very expensive. Prices for energy efficient LED's have fallen considerably since then, allowing the ultra slim fixtures to find their way onto city streets. The Bloomberg administration has changed New York's scrappy streetscapes in numerous ways, including adding new pedestrian plazas and hundreds of miles of bike lanes, and commissioning new street furniture and newsstands. These fixtures, developed by the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation, are the latest of these efforts to make gritty city a bit greener and more civilized.  
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Biker Town
The Capital Bikeshare program in DC is a precedent for Chicago's larger initiative.
Andrew Bossi / Flickr

Chicago’s transit system has long helped commuters navigate the city, but a new bike-share program announced by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will help fill in short-distance gaps between trains and buses. Bike sharing allows riders to check out a bike at one location and deposit it at another and is seen as a supplement to existing transportation networks. The proposed system calls for an initial run of 3,000 bikes to be distributed over 300 stations increasing to 5,000 bikes and 500 stations over the following two years. Stations will be located around existing transit stops and in densely populated areas of the city.

The ambitious opening date set for summer 2012 is no less bold than Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for a world-class cycling city. Bike sharing is one of four goals espoused by Emanuel to increase Chicago’s bikability. The mayor also seeks to double the amount of bike parking in the city, build the Bloomingdale Trail, an elevated bike and stroll path on an old rail right of way, and install 100 miles of protected bike lanes over the next four years, with 25 miles completed by May 2012.

“We’re very encouraged by the mayor’s support for cycling,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “We think the city can achieve these objectives. The most challenging aspect of this process is turning around the RFP.” The city is currently seeking a bike-share operator, with responses due October 25.

For the past two years, a small privately-operated bike share system called B-cycle run by the bike-rental company Bike and Roll Chicago has maintained 100 bikes and eight stations in the city. The system is limited but still popular. “It’s steadily been growing,” said Jared Arter, general manager at Millennium Park. “We’re seeing about 80 rentals a day.” Arter said B-cycle has responded to the city’s RFP. “For a private company to go solo without government support, it can only be so big,” Burke added.

Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grants will provide initial funding, but user fees and corporate sponsorships will also contribute.

Gabe Klein, CDOT’s commissioner, already has a track record for implementing large bike-share programs. He oversaw the launch of Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C. in September 2010 when he was director of the District Department of Transportation. The $6 million, 1,100 bike, 100 station system has been heralded as an enormous success in its first year, doubling its initial ridership goals and hitting 1 million rides on the system’s anniversary. In D.C., cyclists averaged 1.79 miles per trip, demonstrating the strength of bike-sharing to connect short distances.

“Across the board, cycling has increased in Chicago. It’s doubled in the last ten years,” Burke noted. “Bike share is a great way for people to make biking part of their daily routine.”

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2011 Jane Jacobs Medalists Champion City Life
As we all know, Jane Jacobs was a visionary urban activist and author, whose 1961 publication of The Death and Life of Great American Cities had a tremendous impact on how we think about cities and urban planning today. She challenged prevailing assumptions in urban planning at a time when slum-clearing was the norm and emphasized the intricacies and sensitivities of an urban fabric. In 2007, the year after Jacobs died, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Jane Jacobs Medal, an annual award given to those who stand by Jacobs' principles and whose "creative uses of the urban environment" renders New York City "more diverse, dynamic and equitable." Two awards covering New Ideas & Activism and Lifetime Leadership are presented each year. Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation and Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives took the New Ideas & Activism title for their contributions to public space and transportation while Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal were presented with Lifetime Leadership awards for their contributions to the Tribeca neighborhood. Sadik-Khan was lauded for her standout efforts to increase access to public space, improve traffic flow, and promote sustainable transportation. Her work includes the creation of select bus service routes in the Bronx and Manhattan, the installation of 18 pedestrian plazas, the addition of over 250 miles of on-street bike lanes, car-free summer streets, and a new Street Design Manual. Steely White's leadership is responsible for championing public campaigns to make New York's streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists including traffic calming initiatives and the Safe Routes to School and Safe Routes for Seniors campaigns, which were later adopted by NYC DOT. His organization also led the government call to install new pedestrian spaces and 200 miles of bike lanes between 2006 and 2009. The Lifetime Leadership awards went to Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and driving force behind the Tribeca Film festival. Together, the pair not only founded the Tribeca Film Center, the first commercial space in Tribeca dedicated to film, television, and entertainment companies, they also responded to the devastating consequences the 9/11 attacks on Lower Manhattan by founding the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002, whose active presence heavily contributed to the city's long-term recovery. The recipients were decided by a jury comprised of Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Richard Kahan, founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly and recipient of a 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal, Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and Bruce Nussbaum, professor at Parsons The New School for Design.  The 2011 Jane Jacobs Medal was administered by the Municipal Art Society.
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Share the Road, Slash the Parking
A protected bike lane in Chicago.
Courtesy CDOT

While many of Mayor Daley's initiatives promoting citywide sustainability were visionary, transportation is one area where new thinking is still needed. Chicago traffic is among the worst in the country, and its air quality suffers as a result. Mayor Emanuel's planning policies are just beginning to take shape, though we are heartened with his selection of Gabe Klein as department of transportation commissioner.

Emanuel saw Klein's work first hand in Washington, where, as the capital city’s DOT head, he added hundreds of miles of bike lanes and implemented the nation's largest bike sharing program. Klein, like his better-known peer in New York, Janette Sadik-Khan, is one of the new breed of transportation planners who are seeking to give pedestrians and cyclists a bigger share of the road. For too long we have designed our streets with primarily the car in mind, to the detriment of street life, the environment, our health, and our cities. It also makes bad economic sense. The era of cheap oil is over.

Innovative commissioners like Klein and Sadik-Khan, recognizing their relative autonomy and the vast portfolios of public spaces under their control, are changing things quickly. Sometimes these changes ruffle feathers, but Washington and New York are seeing big increases in cycling and significant improvement in pedestrian safety. It has also helped make them celebrities in planning circles.

Bike sharing, complete streets, sidewalk extensions, and pedestrian scramble intersections change the look and texture of streetscapes, usually for the better. They help transform streets from pass-throughs into destinations. With its wide streets and flat topography, Chicago seems primed to be a leading bicycling city, expanding its already active and visible cycling population.

Architects, directly and indirectly, have been part of the car monoculture problem. In order to meet parking requirements most new high rises include vast parking podiums, which, even with ground floor retail, deaden street life and pull eyes off the street, to paraphrase Jane Jacobs. An overabundance of parking encourages casual, even constant, car use, and helps generate traffic and sprawl. But that could change. In a recent interview with the smart transportation blog “Grid Chicago” Klein said he wants to reduce the parking requirements for new construction: “I think we should have a maximum and no minimum.” I couldn’t agree more.

Klein also reiterated the Emanuel Administration’s commitment to building the Bloomingdale Trail. While that project is routinely compared to New York’s High Line park, the Bloomingdale Trail is being conceived as a transportation artery, not a merely as a place for a romantic promenade. It will be the most protected bike lane of all. I can’t wait to take a spin down it, preferably using a shared bike.

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Quick Clicks> Prairie Preserved, Library Voyeur, Mapping Riots, & a Culver City Compromise
Prairie Hotel. After a 2-year, $18 million renovation, Frank Lloyd Wright's last standing hotel has reopened in Mason City, Iowa. The Historic Park Inn Hotel is a premier example of the Wright's Prairie style, and features deep hanging eaves and a terra-cotta façade. A massive art-glass skylight drenches the lobby in multi-colored light. More at ArtInfo. Library of Glass. Although Philip Johnson's Glass House library is transparent, Birch Books Conservation will soon offer the public a view the architect’s library without a trip to New Canaan. The non-profit publisher hopes “to preserve the professional libraries of artists, architects, authors, and important public figures through publishing photographic and written research,” with an inside look at Johnson’s personal collection, reported Unbeige. Mapping Poverty and Rebellion. The Guardian opened up the recent London riots for debate. Journalist Matt Stiles mapped the newspaper’s accumulated data of riot hot spots on a plan of London’s neighborhoods. Deep red stands for the British capital’s poorest regions, while blue represents the wealthiest communities. Metro In-The-Middle. The long-awaited Culver City Expo Line station was delayed by a disagreement between Culver City and construction authorities. Now, the two parties have agreed to the $7 million budget increase, which will fund a pedestrian plaza, bike lanes, parking facilities and pavement improvements. More at Curbed LA.
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Video> Lithuanian Mayor Goes on Bike Lane Offensive
A few days ago on July 30, Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, became fed up with cars illegally parked in the city's bike lanes. To prove his point, he ordered in a tank and proceeded to crush a Mercedes-Benz stopped not only in a bike lane but partially in a crosswalk. The mayor then takes all scofflaw motorists to task, declaring, "That's what will happen if you park your car illegally!" Perhaps, best of all, the Zuokas swept the broken glass from the bike lane and hopped on an electric bike and rode off into the horizon. Can you imagine such a thing happening in America? (Via Urban Velo.)
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AN Video> Esplanade Walk-Through with Amanda Burden
On Thursday, the East River Waterfront Esplanade officially opened to the public. Last week, while the paint on the new bike lanes was still drying, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden took AN on a walk through of the first section.  The commissioner barely contained her excitement while showing off design details by landscape architect Ken Smith and SHoP Architects. Follow the commissioner as she takes us through the dog run and points out clever details like the "Get-Downs,"  the riverside bar stools,  and "seat walls."