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Getting There

Miami’s infrastructure woes run deep, but the city has its eyes set on “huge cultural change”

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

Talk of “infrastructure” may be one of the few things—if not the only thing—that comes close to uniting Democrats and Republicans at the moment. It was transit infrastructure, of course, that literally united the states of America: originally with railroads in the 19th century and later with interstates and automobiles in the 20th. Today, however, some cities’ prevailing love affairs with the car have become rather one-sided.

Polluting air and clogging roads, vehicles choke our cities. Miami ranks fifth nationally and tenth globally for congestion, as residents spend 65 hours in traffic per year on average, according to INRIX, a global traffic researcher that uses big data. Adding real injury to insult, the state’s stretch of the I-95 is America’s most deadly, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There is a financial burden to excessive traffic too. INRIX estimates that congestion costs Miami drivers $3.6 billion per year (remember that figure). Additionally, drivers pay out an average of $628,000 every day in tolls, just for the privilege of using the Miami-Dade Expressway.

Cars aren’t cheap, but what is the alternative in an auto-dependent city like Miami? Director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) for Miami-Dade County Alice Bravo said that she wanted to make Miami a “car-optional community,” where people can get to “all the different regions within the county using reliable public transit that’s convenient and helps people save time.”

A plethora of schemes and projects are now occurring in and around the city, such as high-speed regional rail, local rail, bus, bicycle, and pedestrian routes, water travel, and carpooling. Miami has gone from having nothing concrete in the pipeline for years to everything happening at once, and this coincides with a development boom that is more tuned for urban living than previous waves of development.

Bravo said that the backbone of the infrastructure surge is the Brightline, a completely private, approximately $3 billion scheme by All Aboard Florida. The “higher-speed” (Note: not high-speed) rail service runs the 235-mile stretch from the Orlando airport to Downtown Miami. The new line will reduce travel between Orlando and Miami from four hours to two and a half, for about the same cost as driving.

Such a commuter-rail service may sound familiar: In the late 19th century, the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) was developed by Henry Flagler. Flagler’s railway ran from Jacksonville and was dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world.” The commuter rail prevailed until the 1960s when the line was used to transport freight only, which it still does to this day. Unsurprisingly, then, All Aboard Florida is a sister company of the FEC and the new tracks will be laid along the existing lines.

Designing the Miami station, as well as those in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) who are working with Miami-based Zyscovich Architects. Design principal Roger Duffy explained how the stations would work with the existing infrastructure around them: “At Fort Lauderdale, we’re looking to link up with a bus service that will connect the cruise port and the station.” The city is also pressing on with plans for a streetcar system called “The Wave” that would connect with the station as well.

Meanwhile, at West Palm Beach, the 60,000-square-foot station is located at the center of downtown and will connect with the existing trolley network as well as Tri-Rail and Amtrak. In Miami, the station inhabits a similar location. A zoning override that turned the area into a special transit district was required to build the station, and tracks here are elevated 50 feet into the air so that the 11,000-foot-long station can bridge roads and pedestrian pathways.

Like any contemporary train terminus, the station will offer a ton of retail space, with room for a food court too. Duffy, however, stressed that the station was “not like duty-free at an airport,” where you have to weave through shops to get anywhere. Amenities will also cater to the area outside the building. Space for food trucks—a hit in Florida—has been provided, while skylights where the station bridges the streets offer daylight.

The Brightline train itself was designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group—an in-house strategy and technology studio at the New York architecture and design studio. The LAB at Rockwell Group worked with All Aboard Florida to conceive the Brightline name, brand platform, visual identity, and designed the train’s interiors as well as the exterior graphics. In addition to this, one of Rockwell Group’s architectural studios designed the interior check-in areas, food and beverage areas, and lounge experiences for all four Brightline stations.

Using the Brightline project as a springboard, Bravo is embarking on a $3.6 billion (remember that number?) transport scheme. Part of “Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit,” otherwise known as the S.M.A.R.T. plan, 82 miles of track will be laid along six transportation corridors that involve local services, including the suburban Metrorail and the elevated monorail Metromover.

In addition to new tracks, existing tracks are also finding a new lease on life as a haven for pedestrians and cyclists. Known as the “Underline,” the rails-to-trails scheme, comes from James Corner Field Operations (JCFO)—the same firm who developed New York’s hugely popular High Line.

As one might guess, the scheme involves area underneath the Metrorail being turned into a landscaped oasis filled with pedestrian paths, cycle lanes, and native planting. The 10-mile stretch is planned to run from Brickell Station down to Dadeland South Station. Phase one is occurring in Brickell, where work is due for completion in 2019, set to cost netween $7 million and $9 million. “Brickell has grown explosively in the past 10 to 15 years,” said Meg Daly, president of Friends of the Underline, the group leading the project. “We really believe that this trail-cum-park will offer incredible amenities and green spaces to offset the vertical growth and increased density in the area.”

Expanding on this, Isabel Castilla of JCFO listed amenities such as a dog park, an outdoor gym, a basketball court that doubles up as a space for yoga classes and similar activities, as well as a 150-capacity bicycle garage (Miami-Dade’s first) and a bike repair station. Art will also line the trail, and amenities will be site-specific: In the University of Miami area, a beach volleyball court will be installed.

According to Irene Hegedus of the DTPW, providing safe bicycle routes is a high priority. Castilla added that the shade provided by the Metrorail is “critical” for a project where people are encouraged to “walk, run, and cycle to stations and along the path.” “Working with the existing infrastructure,” she continued, “we hope this leads to the rezoning and re-visioning of areas along the Metrorail as transit-orientated development sites and areas where, as Miami continues to grow, it hopefully grows in a denser way near transit stations rather than continuing urban sprawl that is very dependent on highways and cars.”

Bravo, too, is aware of the interwoven relationship between transit development and the densification of urban areas. Another tool she discussed to further assist Hegedus’s and her ambitions was the possibility of Uber and Lyft entering the fray of her transport plans, acting as the “first and last miles” for journeys.

Now operating in Miami (after three years of lobbying for service legalization), Uber and Lyft previously found success in other parts of Florida, notably in Pinellas Park and Altamonte Springs where rides are subsidized and saving the cities considerable money. Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz described the pilot partnership as “going very well,” but said the scheme is due to end in July.

The low-cost nature of services such as Uber and Lyft is a key to their success. Already able to outprice traditional taxi drivers, ridesharing services Uber Pool and Lyft Line are looking to compete with bus service, too. Uber has gone further than mere carpooling by introducing pickup points optimized by algorithms that essentially create Uber bus stops.

Uber is also losing money—approximately $3 billion per year. In December, economist Justin Wolfers commented that “prices will rise once they’ve succeeded at monopolizing the industry.” If he is correct, the governmental embracing of Uber and Lyft long-term will prove to be shortsighted. Evidence of what happens when alternative public transit routes become unavailable can be seen in London. During a tube strike earlier this year, Uber fares surged by 450 percent; one rider was reportedly charged $138 for a five-mile trip.

It should be noted, though, that Altamonte Springs and Pinellas Park went with car sharing due to other circumstances not going their way. The Altamonte Springs city government set aside $500,000 (of which only a fraction has been needed) for private-hire subsidies after it was denied funding for a $1.5 million pilot “FlexBus” program. At Pinellas Park, the program emerged in response to a 2014 referendum in which local voters declined to adopt a one-cent sales tax to aid transit in the area.

In Miami, however, residents appear to be more enthusiastic about public transport. The “People’s Transportation Plan,” a half-penny charter county sales surtax is helping to fund the S.M.A.R.T. project, something the public voted in favor of back in 2002.

All this, too, shouldn’t suggest that Miami is waging all-out war against the automobile. Getting around by car is being made easier by what Bravo calls “smart signals”—traffic signals that adapt to current states of congestion. Using cameras, they monitor intersections and use AI to optimize traffic flow. Miami-Dade County is investing $40 million this year for the implementation of the traffic signals along major corridors, part of a five-year, $160 million effort. Other smart-city services include 300 soon-to-be-installed wi-fi transit hotspots from CIVIQ Smartscapes.

With all the proposed infrastructural plans, varying in scale, Bravo is under no illusions about the difficulty of the task. “This is a huge cultural change,” she said. However, Bravo is optimistic about how future generations will take to the changes. “New millennials are cool about public transportation,” she added. Such unprecedented growth seldom comes around often, and the chance to invest off the back of hefty tax receipts may be fleeting. Miami’s public transit system is dire, but if it continues to ride the wave of public support and enact its plans, change in the form of mobility lies ahead.

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University City

New renderings and info unveiled for Philly's 14-acre Schuylkill Yards project
New images of the Schuylkill Yards project penned for Philadelphia have been released, along with a fancy fly-through film and a new website that details new information. In addition to this, an interactive map outlines 12 of the 14 proposed new buildings for the 14-acre site which lies off the Schuylkill River. The master plan incorporates Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, the third-busiest Amtrak station in the country. 30th Street will see an influx in usage if New York-based SHoP Architects and Netherlands-based landscape architects West 8 are as successful as the project intends to be. "It is estimated that over the next three decades, renewed interest in rail travel will bring twice as many people into this already bustling transportation hub," read a line from a marketing brochure on the project. SHoP and West 8's plans work around the station seem to place priority on public space (of which there will be 6.5 million square feet, denoted as "greenspace and improved streetscape") in the vicinity. Four public spaces were outlined in the brochure:
  1. Drexel Square will feature an elliptical lawn and supposedly represent the "continuation of William Penn’s original vision for the city’s 'public room.'" The area will be active during the day and night and is set to "serve as the gateway into University City from Center City and 30th Street Station."
  2. JFK Boulevard is due to be transformed into a "shared esplanade" linking 30th Street Station with the Armory building. This space will act as an overspill area for commuters and visitors leaving the station, safely integrating pedestrians, bikes, and cars in the same space, "while providing a rich new greenway for the public."
  3. Market Street, a well-known thoroughfare in Philly, will receive new bicycle and pedestrian lanes, as well as trees that will line the street to counteract noise and pollution.
  4. The Wintergarden. Renders for the space show an elevated, balustrade-encased area overlooking the streets filled with greenery and families. The surrounding area appears to be laboratories, so it is unclear if this is a specific public space. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reached out to the developers (Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University) for clarification and is waiting to hear back.
Meanwhile, a 627,000-square-foot office tower, "3101 Market East," is in line to be built, as is a hotel covering 247,000 square feet. The $6.5 billion scheme is part of the "University City" development which will be home for many Philly-based universities and institutions, including: Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of the Sciences, Lincoln University, the Science Center, and the Wistar Institute. According to a press release, the Schuylkill Yards project "has the potential to add 25,000 new jobs and create millions of dollars in new tax revenue." Part of it overlaps the Keystone Innovation Zone, a program started by the state of Pennsylvania to encourage start-up companies to come to Philadelphia. It will give residents and businesses tax benefits (up to $100,000 annually) and "further stimulate investment and growth in the community." This hopes to draw science and research-based companies to University City, which offers a Science Center which is undergoing major changes itself. The center recently expanded its 17-acre physical campus, which has been rebranded as uCity Square, to encompass a total of 27 acres. It houses 15 existing buildings, a 16th  is under construction, and nine additional buildings are planned over the next 10 years. In past coverage of the Schuylkill Yards, AN's Will Barlow noted that in a report from last year, firms that were incubated at the Science Center bring $12.9 billion to the Greater Philadelphia economy each year.
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Zeroing In

See the shovel-ready Vision Zero projects changing NYC streets this year
Today Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a slate of shovel-ready or in-progress projects meant to move the city ever closer to its Vision Zero goals. The program, designed to dramatically reduce traffic fatalities through speed limit reductions and streetscape improvements, is now in its fourth year. So what is getting done? According to the Mayor's office, the city is breaking ground on wider sidewalks, more protected bike lanes, new crosswalks, and medians on busy roadways large enough for pedestrians to take refuge. The improvements, part of a five-year, $1.6 billion initiative, will target dozens of projects in the five boroughs. “Dangerous streets have to change,” said Mayor de Blasio, in a prepared statement.  “We want to get the word out: we’re moving lanes, adding new space for pedestrians and making it safer to cross intersections—all to keep your family safe. These changes have helped make each of the last three years under Vision Zero safer than the last.” The city says existing Vision Zero improvements have lead to eight fewer lives lost in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year. Still, New York has a way to go towards zero fatalities—40 people have died in traffic-related incidents so far this year Here are a few highlights from the improvements planned so far for this year: In Brooklyn, along Borinquen Place, South 4th, and South 5th streets, this summer city will enhance pedestrian and bike access to the Williamsburg Bridge in advance of the 15-month L train shutdown. The Brooklyn Bridge, meanwhile, is a commuter cyclist's special hell. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is widening pedestrian-bike entrances at Tillary Street to allow seamless coexistence between selfie-snapping, Citibiking tourists and New Yorkers who are just trying to go somewhere. Plans will add 50 trees and better crosswalks; improvements are underway and are expected to be complete this summer. (President Trump's proposed budget cuts, however, could jeopardize funding for this project.) On the Manhattan side, a "sister project" to the one on Tillary Street will improve bike and pedestrian access, while riders will enjoy a two-way protected bike lane in front of City Hall by this spring. By this summer, cyclists and walkers in Mott Haven will have easier access to the Madison Avenue Bridge, the slice of roadway that connects 138th Street in the Bronx to Manhattan. Over in Queens, two new Select Bus Service routes and safety improvements to Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards build on similar efforts to boost the pedestrian experience along Queens Boulevard. In notoriously car-dependent Staten Island, the city will add five miles of bicycle lanes to connect the North Shore neighborhoods of Tompkinsville, Stapleton, Concord and Park Hill. For residents and visitors, bike connections to the ferry terminal in St. George are coming online this summer.
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Ramping Up

Bold proposal for new bike bridge connecting Miami to Key Biscayne on display at Coral Gables Museum
A new exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum is now on view, providing a deeper look into "Plan Z for Miami," a proposal to create a snaking elevated platform that would provide pedestrians and cyclists with safer passage from Miami to nearby Virginia Key and Key Biscayne. The existing Rickenbacker Causeway has seen four fatal cycling accidents since 2006, spurring many cyclists to push for better bike lanes and barriers to protect them from the high-speed traffic on the bridge. Architect, urban planner, and lifelong cyclist Bernard Zyscovich saw an opportunity to promote cycling as a more viable means of transportation in Miami and launched Plan Z for Miami. The nonprofit organization has proposed two separate plans to convert Rickenbacker Causeway, the first of which involves the removal of a lane of traffic from the causeway to create a 16-foot-wide bike and pedestrian lane, separated from the motor traffic by a strip of native foliage. After concerns were raised about the removal of a lane of traffic, Zyscovich returned with Plan Z 2.0. This bolder plan proposes a completely separate bike and pedestrian lane to run the length of the causeway and connect to the proposed Underline, a ten-mile linear park running under Miami’s Metrorail. The path would then run along the William Powell Bridge, providing an observation deck for viewing the Miami skyline, then continue on to Virginia Key. Zyscovich’s plan also imagines a 20-acre waterfront park and beach at the entrance of Virginia Key, with a branch of paths connecting to Virginia Key Park, before continuing on to Key Biscayne. The project has already garnered a decent amount of positive attention from the community, according to the architect, and they will continue to show the plans to the public to rally further support while the project is in review for potential funding. The exhibit, titled Plan Z for Miami: From Infrastructure to Open Space, will be on view through May 14, 2017, at the Coral Gables Museum. For more information about the exhibit, visit the Museum’s website here. For more information about the Plan Z project itself, you can visit the organization’s website here.
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Trains & Planes

Express rail to Chicago O'Hare airport once again floated by Mayor Emanuel
Speaking to a crowd of union workers last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reiterated his intentions to have a high-speed express rail built between O’Hare International Airport and the city’s downtown. Details, however, remain unclear. It was almost exactly one year ago that Emanuel announced that the city would be spending $2 million to investigate new and existing proposals for the rail, which would carry passengers 17 miles in under 30 minutes. Currently, there already is a train, the CTA’s Blue Line L train, that travels from the airport to Chicago's downtown in about 50 minutes. Critics of the proposed express train argue that the costs of building a new rail system far outweigh the benefits of cutting that trip's time in half. The mayor argued for the need by pointing out the success of express airport rails in other cities, such as London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Toronto. While the latest announcement did not include an idea of the cost, earlier studies into the rail have estimated the price at anywhere between $750 million and $1.5 billion. Those numbers come from a 2006 report commissioned by Emanuel’s predecessor, Mayor Richard M. Daley. Daley also made multiple attempts to kick start the express rail project, but with little success. The wide price range for the project is based on the major options for the path of the train. The more affordable option would see the train sharing space with the existing Blue Line, possibly running on an elevated level above the slower local train. The more expensive route would follow an expressway and existing freight rail lines that run west out of the downtown. While that 2006 report estimated passenger tickets at $10, twice the current price to take the Blue Line, many believe tickets would have to be much higher. Similar rails around the world charge anywhere from $30 to $60. This latest mention of the proposed express train came packaged in a speech celebrating the 5th year anniversary of Emanuel’s “Building A New Chicago” initiative to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure. In those five years, the city has been busy. According to the mayor’s speech, renovations have happened at 40 CTA L stations, 108 miles of protected or widened bike lanes have been added, 1,600 miles of city streets have been repaved, 500 miles of water mains have been replaced, and over 300 neighborhood parks have been renovated. O’Hare itself is also set to receive $3.5 billion in city bonds to build a new runway and make other improvements in the coming years.
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Clear the Road

Paris Mayor unveils plan for new citywide electric tramway and pedestrianized streets
Over the past few months, Paris Mayor Anne Hildago has rolled out her plans to reduce the number of private cars in the French capital by half. The most recent announcement is a new electric tramway that will open September 2018 and will run alongside the upper highways along the Seine in both directions. Dubbed the Olympic Tramway in alignment with Paris’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, it is the latest in a series of attempts to improve the city's air quality. In the past year, periodic road closures and car bans caused controversy after the city’s pollution reached potentially harmful levels. SGP-metro-plan--645x457 The electric tramway will be accompanied by additional bike lanes and infrastructure geared toward pedestrians. According to The Guardian, there are major pedestrianization plans under way: Traffic will be restricted on the upper highway on the Seine's right bank and the Rue de Rivoli, while a one kilometer river-adjacent stretch of the Place de la Concorde and Pont Royal will be fully closed to vehicles. And, as The Architect's Newspaper reported in November, several firms such as Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Kengo Kuma Associates have been tapped to work on this increased network of public spaces in the French capital. BIG designed the new Pont de Bondy station northwest of Paris—one of 68 new stations that will form the Grand Paris Express—and Kengo Kuma Associates created the Gare Saint-Denis Pleyel station north of the city. Combined, Hildago hopes these efforts can create a significant change for future generations.
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Vision Zeroing In

NY court says cities can be liable for dangerous streets
New York States's highest court has ruled that cities and towns can be held legally accountable when dangerous streets are not improved via better design. In December, the New York State Court of Appeals decided a case in favor of Anthony Turturro, a 12-year-old who was stuck in 2004 by a driver traveling almost double the speed limit in a 30-per-mile-hour zone. Turturro, Streetsblog NYC reports, was riding his bike on Brooklyn's Gerritsen Avenue, a wide main street where, locals say, drivers disobey posted speed limits with impunity. The driver, Louis Pascarella, put Turturro in a coma; he subsequently pled guilty to assault. Citing in part the poor design of Gerritsen Avenue, a jury found the city 40 percent liable for the incident and awarded $20 million to Turturro, whose everyday functioning is diminished as a result of the crash. The case contended that despite years of complaints, the DOT didn't do enough to remediate underlying conditions that led to Turturro's—and others'—injuries. Though the DOT initiated traffic studies at three intersections in the years after Turturro, court documents show that speeding along the wide-open avenue as whole was not studied, and that the city declined to follow up with the NYPD on the speeding issue. In the past decade, four people have been killed on the avenue, which connects the small neighborhood of Gerritsen Beach to neighboring Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay. A year after Tuturro's encounter with Pascarella, the city unveiled a painted median near the crash site and downgraded Gerritsen from four lanes to three. “This ruling from New York’s highest court puts an end to the notion that traffic safety improvements should be subject to debate and contingent on unanimous local opinion,” Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White told Streetsblog NYC. The decision, he added, should convey to Mayor Bill de Blasio that street safety redesign must be a bigger part of the city's next budget. For the past two years, the mayor's office has butted heads with the City Council on funding for Vision Zero initiatives. This past fall, the city began installing pedestrian islands and a protected bike lane along Gerritsen. Steve Vaccaro, a lawyer who represents crash survivors, said the decision “will create an affirmative obligation on the DOT’s part to—at the very least—conduct studies to determine whether infrastructure can reduce traffic violence, and unless such studies indicate otherwise, to install the infrastructure.”  
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CoRe Foro Urbano CDMX 2016

What is the future of transportation in Mexico City?
Mexico City is the largest city in North America and has been around since the 14th century when the Aztecs settled the area. Many layers of history, culture, and development—both private and public—can be seen in its rich architecture and urbanism. Crumbles of pyramids abut Spanish cathedrals and huge modernist housing blocks, foregrounded by spectacular parks, statues, and fountains from the various periods in the history of the region. However, along with the complex history comes a complex city. The organizers of CoRe Foro Urbano CDMX 2016, a two-day summit of experts from the development, policy, design, and transportation sectors, cited this complexity and a perceived lack of leadership among the different stakeholders as the impetus for getting together and addressing the multi-faceted challenges of the city. The main initiator of the conference was Kaluz, "a diversified conglomerate of companies active in the following sectors: industry, construction materials, and financial services." They worked with the Planning Commission of Mexico City and the Delegacion Cuauhtmoc (the local borough government) to realize the forum, which is organized into four panels: Mobility, Public Space, Citizenship and Responsibility, and Zoning and Diverse City. It was not structured as lectures or talks, but more of a series of roundtable discussions that were aimed directly at the problems of Mexico City, and how each can be addressed with real solutions. This is part one of our series, "Urbanism in Mexico City," reported live from the discussion.  The first panel focused on transportation, which for Mexico City is seen as a hinderance to development, as the public systems are not as robust as in London or New York. Mexico City has developed along long corridors that have been around since it was founded, and in the 1860s, these large streets became boulevards, as was the European tradition. Development followed these main arteries, but the car came along and made them less effective for the city. While the city has adapted and incorporated cycle lanes and sidewalks on the main areas, gentrification has brought more traffic. Riccardo Marini of Gehl Architects pointed out that this is not just about livable cites, but also about the species-scale problem of burning fossil fuels. Camilla Ween of Transport for London explained how some of the best projects in central London are smaller-scale pedestrianization projects and connections rather than big technical undertakings. Architect and urbanist Jan Gehl agreed that cities are not great for cities, and took it a step further: Shared cars and autonomous cars are no better than single-driver cars, which were perhaps a good idea on the open ranges 100 years ago, but are bad for people and the environment. He is optimistic that we are winning, and that the future is bright for public transportation, although it will require big commitments. Planning, real estate, and transportation consultant Andres Sanudo cited parking lots as a big problem for Mexico City. The money that private developers spend on parking lots could build a huge amount of public transport, while also encouraging people to get rid of cars and take them off the road. Their solution is to change the codes to have maximums for parking spaces in developments rather than minimums. Michael Kodransky of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy said that minimums also prevent the city from densifying, and that densifying a city gives it the resources and users for public transportation. Edgar Farah of 5M2 noted that while public transport allows more access for the young and the poor, it is also important to have a range of transport systems for a range of people. "The main problem of mobility in the city is that we have made many people go away," he said. Sanudo agreed with this statement, saying "How do we get those people—that the market has driven out—back into the city without distorting the market?" For Mexico City, connections to the metro area are a challenge for the future, as many of the workers in the central districts commute over two hours to work. Florencia Serrania of Prodi said that reducing that by even 30 minutes with better transport, signage, and connections would make a big difference. The metropolis of over 23 million has to become a connected and mobile city to be one that is accessible to all of the populations. The participants each suggested an action they would implement first, which included:

Give over half of the streets to bikes and walkers.

Make people give up cars for a short period of time.

Commit to the Metro system (subways and buses).

Build things for the people who build the towers.

Limit the number of plates that could be issued and make it an auction.

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Cool Park Bro

L.A.'s Grand Park gets new paper airplane–shaped shade structure
Downtown Los Angeles has a new public park art piece and shaped like paper airplanes. Big ones. The new, semi-permanent shade canopy installation, Paper Airplane, consists of a steel armature-supported canopy populated by eleven large-scale "paper" airplanes made out of canvas. The piece was designed by local artists Elenita Torres and Dean Sherriff. Located in Grand Park, itself designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios in 2012 to much fanfare, the installation marks the latest addition to the city’s public space boom. Dubbed by city officials as “The Park for Everyone,” Grand Park spans the blocks between the steps of City Hall and those of the Music Center and Disney Concert Hall complexes; it sees roughly one million visitors each year. The installation is the by-product of A Cooler Grand Park, a semi-public design competition held by the Music Center concert hall that sought to bring additional shading to the park’s Olive Court which spans between the Los Angeles Chief Administration Office and the Los Angeles Courthouse. Paper Airplane runs the length of the broad promenade between the two buildings and also acts as the edge of a fountain and splash pad area popular with children.  For the competition, the Music Center invited local visual artists with at least three years of experience working in their field to submit designs for a new installation. The winning proposal by Torres and Sherriff was selected via public vote with input also provided by a selection committee organized by the center. Construction and installation of the project were funded by Goldhirsh Foundation’s LA 2050 Grants Challenge, a prolific public arts program in the city. The installation adds to a banner year for parks in L.A, with recent months also seeing the selection of design teams for two new Downtown L.A. parks as well as stretches of the Los Angeles River redevelopment. The city’s Bureau of Engineering revealed in June its choice of Mia Lehrer Associates and OMA as the design team for the new Grand Park-adjacent FaB Park at the corner of First and Broadway. In April, Pershing Square Renew selected a proposal from French landscape architecture firm Agence Ter and local landscape architects SALT for the latest iteration of Pershing Square. Lehrer’s office was also selected this summer in conjunction with architecture firms Gruen Associates and Oyler Wu Collaborative to work on a 12-mile bike path along the L.A. River in the San Fernando Valley.
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Akron to D.C.

Six U.S. cities will join tactical urbanism workshop series
Is the dawn of “Tactical Urbanism” upon us? This approach to reshaping urban environments, which focuses on small-scale interventions, is a rising trend in urban environments across the U.S. Now six cities have been chosen to be part of a tactical urbanism workshop series. Selected from a group of 18, Akron, OH; Austin, TX; Fayetteville, AR; Long Beach, CA; Washington, D.C.; West Palm Beach, FL were the lucky half-dozen who will be part of a series that aims to "jump-start" tactical urbanism in the areas. The program, which benefits from funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, aims to "advance street safety and placemaking projects such as pedestrian plazas, bike lanes, shared streets, and more." City authorities in the chosen cities will work alongside urban planning, design, and research firm, Street Plans Collaborative. The firm and city officials will design a workshop that encompasses tactical urbanism methodologies with a "hands-on" project that positively impacts a local street or public space. In doing so, the workshops will see the first physical application of the Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Designa resource produced by the collaborative that specifies materials and design principles for tactical urbanism projects. “Over the past seven years Street Plans has built a practice around implementing Tactical Urbanism projects around the globe,” said Street Plans Principal Mike Lydon, who leads the firms New York office. “Our four open-source guides and recent book, along with many other resources, provide substantial case-study level information on the topic. But, we’ve heard time and again that what is needed now is more guidance about design and materials, for both city- and citizen-led projects.” “The Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Design will address this need by providing design and materials information for Tactical Urbanism projects of varying time scales and level of formality,” added fellow Principal Tony Garcia, who leads the Miami office. “This new resource will help bridge the gap between city- and citizen-led projects, helping a host of stakeholders widen public engagement and accelerate project delivery and evaluation.” Meanwhile, Knight Foundation director for community and national strategy Benjamin de la Peña said: “Cities can invite more of their citizens to help shape their communities. The Tactical Urbanism Workshops and the Manual will open up new channels of civic engagement.”
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Bridge Games

This is how the DOT could turn the Brooklyn Bridge into "Times Square in the Sky"
For both cyclists and pedestrians, traveling across the Brooklyn Bridge is far from a pleasant affair. Squeezing onto a ten-foot-wide (17 feet at its widest) elevated path intended for shared use may no longer be viable as the bridge becomes a destination in its own right and not just a piece of infrastructure. In light of this, the New York City Department of Transport (DOT) is looking into creating a "Times Square in the Sky," an expanded pathway thats accommodates more foot traffic. As complaints mount, the DOT seems prepared to take action. “We’ve decided the time has come,” New York's Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the New York Times. “We want to think in a deep, thoughtful way about the next evolution of the bridge.” The resulting plan, dramatically titled "Times Square in the Sky," looks to widen the pathway used by non-vehicle travelers on the bridge. As its name suggests, the project acknowledges the bridge's role as a place to visit as many tourists stop to take photographs of the views it offers as well as the structure itself. In addition to this, the bridge is also uses as a place for sitting, talking, performing, as well as selling and buying goods. In its study of the bridge, the DOT notes that its narrowest point is also conveniently a hotspot for picture taking. The DOT suggests a central bike path, protected by railing or barriers to create dedicated cycle lanes going in each direction with pedestrian walkways on either side. This would take advantage of the un-used promenade space between the two towers. As for the approaches to the bridge, two options have been put forward: A short range plan to "reallocate existing even split between bikes and pedestrians to 10 feet for pedestrians and 7 feet for bikes" and a "seasonal fence to reduce conflicts," as well as a long range plan to build elevated cantilevered walking spaces. Pinch points around the staircases are alos recognized and targeted for remediation. Controls and crossings to manage speed and different uses would be located at the Brooklyn end, while the DOT would "explore the feasibility of closing and covering the stairway" on the Manhattan side. For now, the DOT's next course of action is to go ahead with a consultant study, running through to February of next year and to be carried out by AECOM. This will include structural analysis, conceptual design development, historical preservation implication study, and a conceptual cost estimate.
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Pedal Around

Los Angeles bike share program launches July 7th
Los Angeles County’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is planning to debut the first pilot phase of a new bike share system for the region in Downtown Los Angeles on July 7th. The initial roll out will feature 1,000 BCycle 2.0 bicycles accessible from 65 stations distributed across the downtown area. Metro plans to expand the fledgling system in the coming years, with up to an additional 7,000 bicycles planned for the entire system. Under this plan, Pasadena to the northeast will get Metro's bike sharing system next year, followed by Koreatown and University Park to the west by 2018, Hollywood to northwest by 2019, and other areas including North Hollywood, East Los Angeles, and Venice by 2020. Metro granted an $11-million contract to a partnership between bike share system provider Bicycle Transit Systems and BCycle, itself partnership between Trek Bicycle Corporation, health insurance provider Humana, and advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The system utilizes BCycle’s 2.0 model, an update of the model originally utilized in recently-developed bike share systems in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Fargo, North Dakota, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Denver, Colorado. The 2.0 model features a lightweight aluminum frame and includes a front basket as well as a protected chain and rust-proof components. The bicycle is designed to be heavily used in public settings and permanently live outdoors. The 1.0 model was made of steel and clocked in at 55 pounds; the 2.0’s aluminum frame is ten pounds lighter by comparison, lowering the cruiser’s weight to a still-hefty 45 pounds. Ryan Callahan, BCycle’s Senior Industrial Designer responsible for the design of the bikes and stations, told AN over telephone, “We referenced traditional street furniture by making (the bike stations) large and tall and incorporating solar energy masts, as well as wayfinding graphics and a map and ad panel. We wanted it to look natural, like it belongs on the street.” With its bike share system, Metro aims to make two-wheeled transportation a more viable option for closing the gap between the “first and last mile” between Metro commuters’ destinations. In a press release from Metro, Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair said, “Marrying bicycle and transit trips will go a long way in supporting healthy lifestyles, easing traffic on downtown streets and, perhaps most importantly, getting Angelenos where they need to go in an efficient and affordable manner.” In a heavily automobile-dependent region, there were 88 pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in 2013, so safety will be essential if the system is to be successful as a viable means of transportation for city residents. This effort comes on the heels of a steady expansion of the city’s bicycle infrastructure, including Downtown L.A. councilperson Jose Huizar’s DTLA Forward initiative, which plans to add curbside bicycle lanes to several major downtown thoroughfares, the Vision Downtown pedestrianization plan, and the completion of many neighborhood-specific Civic LAvia open streets festivals.