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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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The Gateway: a mixed-use urban district

The Gateway: a mixed-use urban district | green streets | Scoop.it

In 1998, the Union Pacific railyard sat vacant in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Four years later, the 30-acre site was transformed into a mixed-use urban district with specialty stores, restaurants, offices and apartments. A children’s museum and planetarium offered cultural and learning opportunities. And the project’s open-air plaza served as a place for international celebration during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The Gateway, a $375 million project, is the first phase of a 650-acre brownfield redevelopment plan. It employs nearly 6,000 people and serves as a downtown center for public gatherings, exhibitions and performances. Apartments and condominiums make The Gateway a 24-hour district.

Read the complete article for project details, as well as photos and more information on this unique mixed-use design...

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Pedestrian Bridge in Amsterdam: an extension of the public realm

Pedestrian Bridge in Amsterdam: an extension of the public realm | green streets | Scoop.it

Designed for the [AMSTERDAM] Iconic Pedestrian Bridge Competition, the project offers more than just a possibility of crossing the Amstel river. Branching into several pedestrian trajectories, the bridge prioritizes on being an extension of the public space in front of the Hermitage Museum. In order to prolong the experience of water, the bridge comprises several routes to create a public promenade. The iconic nature of the project is seen by the design team as an emergent feature resulting from both the geometry of the bridge as well as the socially enabled functional potential.

'We see Amsterdam as a city of differences at a small scale which emphasize its local realm. Houseboats represent a specific way of living which could better highlight the local and embed a fruitful cultural echange between the visitors and Amsterdam’s way of living...'

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Paris to return Seine to the people with car-free plan...

Paris to return Seine to the people with car-free plan... | green streets | Scoop.it
It's the latest battle in Paris's war on the private car: a pedestrian "reconquest" of the banks of the Seine.

After a slanging match with the right, the city's Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë has won his quest to break up the two-lane urban motorway that has run along the edge of the Seine since the 1960s, and return Paris's riverside world heritage sites to walkers and cyclists.

Next month, a stretch of more than 1km (0.6 miles) on the right bank near the Hôtel de Ville will see the first narrowing of the road to make way for pedestrian corridors, riverside walkways, bars and cafes. Then in the spring the final promised masterpiece of pedestrianisation will be unveiled: a 2.5km car-free zone on the left bank, between the Musée d'Orsay and the Pont de l'Alma, with a riverside park, pedestrian promenades, floating botanic gardens, flower-market barges, sports courts, restaurants and even perhaps an archipelago of artificial islands...

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Thinking outside the parks: Green space spreads in the Big Apple

Thinking outside the parks: Green space spreads in the Big Apple | green streets | Scoop.it

Launched in 1996, the Greenstreets program has transformed much of New York City’s negative space into green space. Greenstreets started small — planting a flowerbed here, a few trees there — and gradually began improving existing infrastructure, like awkward intersections. What once was a concrete median or a matrix of painted lines, for instance, became a raised bed with shrubbery, sidewalks, and crosswalks — even a bench or two.

From there, it grew. Now, Times Square and Madison Square, historically two of the busiest intersections in New York, are pedestrian paradises — with potted plants, wider sidewalks, and café tables.

Greenstreets is now a centerpiece of the city’s effort to enhance inter-departmental collaboration as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three-pronged approach to maintaining and enhancing city parks. The program brings together New York’s Department of Parks and Recreation with the departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection.

A successful Greenstreet is considered “hyperfunctional” — wider sidewalks mean a more pedestrian-friendly environment, and directing storm water onto planted beds controls runoff and provides needed water to those plants...

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Make Way for Public Space...

Make Way for Public Space... | green streets | Scoop.it

Chicago says four-part plan to expand the pedestrian realm will boost local economy, prompt physical activity.

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel will likely say he’s continuing to make good on commitments to public health and expanded outdoor space if a four-part plan to tackle both becomes a reality. Emanuel introduced an ordinance this month backing the Chicago Department of Transportation’s “Make Way for People” program, which is made up of four initiatives that the city and its partners claim will spark neighborhood economies and increase physical activity, citywide.

 

This is particularly important to communities on the South Side, which don’t have as much public space as the North Side, and could use an economic jolt, according to Bernita Johnson Gabriel, executive director of Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC). QCDC is a Bronzeville-based non-profit that is partnering with the city to pilot a portion of Make Way for People known as People Spots. People Spots essentially expand sidewalk seating onto portions of the street sometimes referred to as "parklets."

Read the entire article for other strategies planned to boost local economies...

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Award-Winning German Development Aims To Be 'The World's Most Sustainable Neighborhood'

Award-Winning German Development Aims To Be 'The World's Most Sustainable Neighborhood' | green streets | Scoop.it
Energy efficient, pedestrian friendly, conveniently located, and full of green innovations, the eco-city Arkadien Winnenden makes a pretty good case for the title.

Economically depressed and the site of a tragic school shooting in 2009, the small German suburb of Winnenden didn't have much appeal despite its low home prices and proximity to Stuttgart. But an award-winning eco-friendly development is turning the town in a new direction.

The architecture firm Atelier Dreiseitl, which also recently transformed Singapore's Bishan Park, calls its new Arkadien Winnenden development "the world’s most sustainable neighborhood."

Formerly home to an abandoned factory, the site's contaminated soil was remediated and recycled, as was existing concrete. Each house in the neighborhood has a high energy-efficiency rating and priority was given to non-toxic, locally sourced materials during construction. The competitively priced homes are connected by pedestrian-friendly streets and shared public spaces, though they also have private gardens, terraces, and roof gardens...

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Sustainable Mobility in Future Cities

Sustainable Mobility in Future Cities | green streets | Scoop.it
The exhibition Our Cities, Ourselves commissioned 10 architects to imagine how a specific area of their cities could be transformed, with the prioritisation of pedestrians emerging as a key concept.

Towards 2030, the global urban population is expected to be 60 percent. All of the renovation projects explore how cities would be if they were redesigned for people, not cars, and follow principles for sustainable mobility drafted by Jan Gehl and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Most projects seek to create more public space and introduce alternative transportation to solve pressing issues in the selected cities...

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Top 10 U.S. cities for biking and walking | SmartPlanet

Top 10 U.S. cities for biking and walking | SmartPlanet | green streets | Scoop.it

Cities are taking steps to make biking and walking a more viable transportation option — from new bike share programs to complete streets infrastructure. Which cities are seeing their investments payoff with more commuters getting to work on bike and foot?

A new report from the Alliance for Biking and Walking analyzes bike and pedestrian data from the largest 51 cities in the U.S. and ranks them based percentage of bike/pedestrian commuters. The report also looks at the safety, economic benefits, and funding levels for bike and pedestrian infrastructure...

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S.F. parklets: a little tour of a major trend

S.F. parklets: a little tour of a major trend | green streets | Scoop.it

A significant change to San Francisco's landscape in 2011 involves a conjuring act that turns parking spaces into pedestrian nooks.

They're called parklets, a word that didn't exist two years ago, and when 2011 arrived there were only four. Now there are 22, with six more approved and 44 in various stages of review.

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'Urban Umbrella' Graces New York With New Scaffolding (PHOTOS) - Huffington Post

'Urban Umbrella' Graces New York With New Scaffolding (PHOTOS) - Huffington Post | green streets | Scoop.it
Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the first model of "Urban Umbrella," a beautiful new design for the city's scaffolding structures, in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday.

The design was the winner of the urbanSHED competition which sought to revamp the city's current scaffolding designed more than 60 years ago. Project Engineer Sarrah Khan, Architect Andres Cortes, and Designer Young Hwan Choi who all helped bring the structure to life were also present for Wednesday's unveiling.

Buildings Commissioner Robert Limandri praised the new structure for both its aesthetic design and safety...

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Pedestrians First at Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn

Pedestrians First at Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn | green streets | Scoop.it

Brooklyn’s grandest public space at Prospect Park has always been a work in progress. Grand Army Plaza, an oval-shaped public space, was built as the park's main entrance in 1866, serving as a buffer between nature and city. Over time, a monumental archway was added, fountains came & went, and eventually the roads were widened until the plaza was effectively cut off from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Last week, however, after months of construction to tame the out-of-control roadways, a group of civic leaders gathered in what was once a busy street to celebrate the newly reclaimed plaza. NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan praised the intersection's transformation into a multi-modal space, saying the changes are “an incredible invitation into the plaza to appreciate a landmark in a new way.” The transformation is not just a boon for pedestrians and cyclists, but for motorists as well, since automobile behaviors have been streamlined by new medians and pedestrian islands to reduce merging conflicts.

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Streetsblog L.A. » Regional Agencies Taking Slow Walk Towards Sustainable Funding

Streetsblog L.A. » Regional Agencies Taking Slow Walk Towards Sustainable Funding | green streets | Scoop.it

In recent weeks, regional transportation agencies in Southern California have made some slow moves towards embracing a more sustainable transportation network throughout the Southland. Local “Metropolitan Planning Organization” the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is poised to pass a long term plan that would dramatically increase bicycle and pedestrian funding while its sister agency in San Diego passed the first regional funding plan complying with the state’s ground breaking greenhouse gas emissions law SB 375 which mandates improvements in air quality with reductions in vehicles miles traveled.

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The long drive to school: ignoring the new normal

The long drive to school: ignoring the new normal | green streets | Scoop.it
Before we can collectively move our cities and towns into twenty-first century realities, we need to understand and acknowledge where we are today and why we have a problem. Instead, we’re sleepwalking into the future.

Take Bailey Elementary School in Woodbury, Minnesota. Like most suburban-style school buildings, it has a problem: kids don’t walk to school...

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Visions of Sixth Street - plans for a new, pedestrian-friendly bridge in Los Angeles

Visions of Sixth Street - plans for a new, pedestrian-friendly bridge in Los Angeles | green streets | Scoop.it

Three finalists present plans for major new bridge in Los Angeles:

The groups—headed by HNTB, AECOM, and Parsons Brinckerhoff— have all been shortlisted to create the city’s new Sixth Street Viaduct. Their vivid public presentations were the first glimpse of what will likely be LA’s next major icon.

The original 3,500-foot-long structure, a famous rounded Art Deco span designed in 1932, has been deemed unsalvageable due to irreversible decay, and in April the city’s Bureau of Engineering called for a competition to design a new, $400 million, cable stayed structure.

Following the city’s lead, all three teams presented plans that not only showcased memorable forms, but embraced people-friendly designs, including pedestrian paths, parks, and connections to the river below. The push reveals Los Angeles’s focus on attracting people and talent through increased livability. Such moves are a welcome, if uphill battle considering that so much of the city has been designed for cars, not people...

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Concrete wastelands - rethinking the parking lot...

Concrete wastelands - rethinking the parking lot... | green streets | Scoop.it
Concrete wastelands - American parking lots should advance beyond being nothing more than concrete wastelands and become aesthetic spaces brought to life by good design.

First came mass mobilization, closely followed by the need for somewhere to put all of the cars. With 500 million spaces, the USA has significantly more parking spaces than US citizens – small wonder given that there are over 800 cars to every 1,000 inhabitants. The space-consuming demands of individual transport are integral to an infrastructure that is geared entirely toward the car. Shopping, office and recreational centers surrounded by highways and veritable oceans of parking space are an everyday part of the “American way of life”. 

But what can we do about it now? Do away with cars? And then spruce up these big gray parking lots? Debates on the issue are certainly gaining momentum in the USA. For example, international PARK(ing) Day, established in 2005 by the San Francisco-based design office “Rebar”. The initiative uses creative parking-lot happenings and alternative design projects to encourage reflection upon the urban infrastructure.

In the context of today’s approaches to urban planning, which increasingly take their cue from the concepts of community and sustainability (as exemplified by the “High Line” in New York or the rediscovery of flowing rivers and green areas in urban settings), something seems to have finally “clicked”, a turnaround in the remodeling of parking lots...

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After 30 Years of Bike/Ped Advocacy, How Far Have We Come?

After 30 Years of Bike/Ped Advocacy, How Far Have We Come? | green streets | Scoop.it

In 1980, the very first Pro Bike conference was convened in Asheville, North Carolina. At the time, the movement to carve out more space for bicycling on North American streets was young, and the first conference was attended by around 100 people. Thirty-two years later, the Pro Walk/Pro Bike: Pro Place is expected to draw a thousand active transportation advocates to Long Beach, California. The expanded conference title reflects the dramatic transformation of bicycling advocacy into today’s active transportation movement, as more and more people have begun to realize the importance of thinking of streets as places that tie communities together.

 

Recently, PPS’s Gary Toth and Brendan Crain had the opportunity to chat with Dan Burden, Andy Clarke, and Charlie Gandy, three advocates who have played very active roles in this transformation, to look back over the past three decades and reflect on lessons learned thus far...

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D.C. unveils plans for new green neighborhood

D.C. unveils plans for new green neighborhood | green streets | Scoop.it
Rainwater will be caught by acres of green roofs (including rooftop farms), green streets, trees, and planters. Permeable surfaces will grow to cover 35 percent of the area, while the tree canopy will reach 40 percent.

After two years of internal debate among 17 different federal agencies and the Washington, D.C., government, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) released its long-awaited plans for a new Southwest Eco-District this week. The plan is designed to undo the worst damage of the massive “urban renewal” projects inflicted on L’Enfant neighborhood over the past decades. When it is completed, still decades out, it will transform the almost pedestrian-free area just south of the National Mall into a highly sustainable, people-friendly cultural and business destination.

The project will go a long way toward “breathing new life into the city,” NCPC Chair L. Preston Bryant, Jr. said at a hearing Thursday. “We have a once in a generation opportunity to make this happen.”

The 110-acre, 15 square-block project is meant to showcase “high performance buildings and landscapes,” while creating space for 19,000 new federal workers, says Elizabeth Miller, the landscape architect who is guiding the project. At the same time, the plan will take aim at the incredible lack of public access — the barriers, the highways, and grade changes — that keep people away...

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San Francisco To Help Citizens Create “Better Streets”

San Francisco To Help Citizens Create “Better Streets” | green streets | Scoop.it
One of Jane Jacobs’ most valuable contributions to the understanding of cities was her faith in the wisdom of the urban dweller. She argued that the physical city—and any approach to city planning—could not be separated from the wisdom of each individual inhabitant, “People who know well such animated city streets will know how it is. I am afraid people who do not will always have it a little wrong in their heads, like the old prints of rhinoceroses made from travelers’ descriptions of rhinoceroses.” The complication arising from Jacobs’ argument is simple though difficult to solve; how can we plan a city when planning is one part abstraction and abstraction removes us from Jacobs’ precious “real life” mentality?

 

A step towards solving this contradiction is sfbetterstreets.org, a website launched last week by the City of San Francisco. Developed by the San Francisco Planning Department in conjunction with other city agencies, the website is part of the city’s larger, “Better Streets” initiative. The legislative concept, described in San Francisco’s Better Streets Plan, is to create streets “designed and built to strike a balance between all users regardless of physical abilities or mode of travel… maximizing features for the comfort, usability, and aesthetics of people walking.”

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Can a Highway Median Become an Alluring Public Space?

Can a Highway Median Become an Alluring Public Space? | green streets | Scoop.it
That's the question in Miami, where a design firm has created a temporary pop-up park, complete with sod and seating.

On one side of Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard is a thriving downtown, filled with condos and office towers. On the other side is the Atlantic Ocean, and in a few choice locations, nice waterfront parks. The division between – Biscayne – has four lanes in each direction and a 100-foot median in between that carries overhead rail tracks and parking lots. All in all, it’s a pretty wide barrier between the people and the parks.

“It’s not convenient or easy or neighborhood-accessible,” says Tony Garcia, a principal at the Street Plans Collaborative, an urban planning, design, and advocacy firm.

Instead of trying to cross the barrier, Garcia tried to bring the park closer to the people, temporarily converting the median into a pop-up public park. In partnership with the engineering and architecture firm C3TS, Garcia coordinated with the city’s parking authority to take over a 60-space lot for a week to lay down sod and put up benches...

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Walk this way

Walk this way | green streets | Scoop.it
FOR years urban planners have emphasised the needs of the motorist over those of the pedestrian.

Thanks partly to greenery, partly to a greater understanding of how pedestrians behave, and partly to concerns about social cohesion, priorities are changing.

London provides two good example of this shift. On February 1st Exhibition Road, a landmark street near many of the city’s museums, is being formally reopened after a three-year construction project to turn it into something that transport engineers like to call a “shared space”. Curbs have been stripped out, along with the usual road markings, to create a thoroughfare that is designed to be shared by cyclists, pedestrians and cars alike. The idea is to create an area which is not just more pleasant for people on foot but also safer because it encourages drivers to pay closer attention to their surroundings.

Less experimentally, big improvements have already been made to Oxford Circus, one of the city’s busiest intersections. The junction between Oxford Street and Regent Street sees as many as 40,000 people pass through every hour, and only 2,000 vehicles. Until 2009, however, pedestrians came well down the pecking order. In the language of planners, pedestrians were unable to follow their desire lines, the paths they want to take as opposed to the ones they are meant to. At Oxford Circus, giving rein to people’s desire lines has meant ripping out guard railings that hemmed pedestrians in and allowing people to cross the junction diagonally as well as from side to side (a feature known as a pedestrian scramble)...

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Another Use for The Street | Sustainable Cities Collective

Another Use for The Street | Sustainable Cities Collective | green streets | Scoop.it

In America, a street built for pedestrians is still a growing idea. However, in Europe this idea is a normal part of life. Pedestrian streets have been a part of European culture for hundreds, even thousands of years, despite changes in how people transport themselves. Cars, trains and buses have been integrated tactfully in many European cities while still preserving these pedestrian corridors.

America is working to integrate pedestrian streets and make them a part of the culture. All-in-all, the pedestrian plaza have positive effects for the pedestrian and the motorist. They are a win-win in the constant conflicts between pedestrians and cars. The Times Square pedestrian plaza shows that this type of infrastructure helps reduce carbon emissions and save money on gas, all while improving traffic flow. The Strøget and Times Square show how a balance between the car and pedestrian can make everyone happy in the long run...

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Vancouver looks to implement scramble crosswalks

Vancouver looks to implement scramble crosswalks | green streets | Scoop.it

The City of Vancouver is looking to implement scramble crosswalks at the city's busiest and most dangerous intersections.

A pedestrian scramble crosswalk allows an intersection to act as a six-way crossing, letting pedestrians walk diagonally across the intersection.

"We are reviewing it now," said Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver's director of transportation.

"Pedestrians are the highest priority in our transportation system and so one thing a scramble intersection can do is to increase pedestrian safety."

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Are freeways doomed?

Are freeways doomed? | green streets | Scoop.it

Several cities are tearing down highways and creating bold new public spaces. Are we headed for a car-free future?

The drive to tear down the huge freeways that many blame for the inner-city blight of the ’60s and ’70s is one of the most dramatic signs of the new urban order. Proponents of such efforts have data to show that freeway removal is not at all bizarre, that we can return to human-size streets without causing a gridlock apocalypse. And that may be true. But pulling down these shrines to the automobile also feels like a bold rewriting of America’s 20th-century urban script: Revenge of the Pedestrian.

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Goodbye, Sidewalks: London Planners Break Down Boundaries Between Cars and Pedestrians

Goodbye, Sidewalks: London Planners Break Down Boundaries Between Cars and Pedestrians | green streets | Scoop.it

Advocates for livable streets usually push for more sidewalks and bike lanes to protect pedestrians and cyclists from cars. Division is seen as the key to safety and participation.

But a new project in London questions the idea of barriers to begin with, envisioning a "shared space" for the intermingling of vehicles and walkers. It may seem chaotic, but planners believe it could foster a more accessible, safer, pedestrian-friendlier thoroughfare by forcing everyone to slow down and be aware of who's on the road.

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Streets- The Pedestrian Loses the Way

Streets- The Pedestrian Loses the Way | green streets | Scoop.it
Before the advent of the electric and cable streetcars, pedestrians had undifferentiated dominion over both the sidewalks and the roadbed.

This changed in the 1880s with the advent of electric and cable streetcars, with their much greater weights and speeds than horse-drawn vehicles, not to mention their guillotine-like wheels. It is a comment on how we viewed our streets that, by design, passengers were meant to board streetcars in the middle of the roadway.

There are only a few places where one can recapture the old relationship of the buildings to the full width of the street...

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