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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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5 Cities Revolutionizing the Role of the Urban Train Station

A recent Washington Post feature entitled “Reimagining Union Station,” discusses the proposed expansion and redevelopment of Union Station in Washington, DC, a transit hub with the daily task of servicing nearly 100,000 train, bus, and subway passengers.

Despite its vital and iconic qualities, the Station suffers from a variety of structural and programmatic inefficiencies, and reminds us of the effects transportation-oriented design has on an urban environment, and the importance of maintaining a high degree of density within our cities. In the article, several other stations around the world are highlighted — particularly Grand Central Station in New York City, as good examples of how train stations ought to be designed. Stations such as the SSB Train Station in Basel, Switzerland, the Berlin Central Station in Germany, the Salzburg Central Station in Austria and the redevelopment plans for Los Angeles's Union Station match his description, both honoring the commuter experience while enhancing their larger role within the urban environment...

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Public Transportation: An Alternate View

Public Transportation: An Alternate View | green streets | Scoop.it

We’ve all heard the stats of pollution and we know that the built form being designed around the car has destroyed a walkable environment based on nuclear neighborhoods.


We’ve abandoned the charm and livability of almost all of our cities, and it will take centuries to get back. The car does take a lot of the blame...


'Urban designers and planners strive for perfect development: walkable, tree-lined streets, beautiful public spaces, and a car-free lifestyle. We search for this in our own personal lives, and in most cases we come up shorthanded. Unless you live in New York, Chicago, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco (our country’s gems) we often feel unsatisfied. However, I believe you can stay in your car (gasp!) and choose just as valuable of a sustainable lifestyle.'


Read the complete article for an urban designer's first-hand perspective on the value and benefits of living in a higher-density community, including those related to commute and neighborhood, as well as reasons why land use must be considered along with transportation, when planning for sustainability and new development.

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Mapping bike commuters across the states...

Mapping bike commuters across the states... | green streets | Scoop.it
Check out this map produced by the League of American Bicyclists and posted on the graphics site Visual.ly. The fonts are small - this image looks intended for a wall, not a computer - but look closely: the darker the state, the larger the share of total trips taken by bicycle, as opposed to driving, walking, or transit; the larger the maroon and yellow box, the larger the number of people commuting to work by bicycle. You can see that California, followed by Florida and New York, have the largest number of bike commuters. But, when you go by mode share - the portion of total trips taken by bike - the leading states appear to be Colorado, Oregon, and (improbably?) Montana. It is hard to tell for sure, but I believe the data came from multiple sources, including the US Census’s American Community Survey.

The map also indicates (in tiny print) the country’s ten cities with the highest mode share for bicycling. Unsurprisingly, Portland ranks first; but I might not have guessed that Minneapolis is second, especially given that city’s notorious winter weather. A larger version of the map contains additional graphics (two excerpted below, with small but readable fonts) that show the total numbers for the top ten cities, as well as some other interesting data, including overall spending on cycling infrastructure.

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Commuter biking could save US $17 billion a year | SmartPlanet

Commuter biking could save US $17 billion a year | SmartPlanet | green streets | Scoop.it
According to a new report on the public benefits of commuter biking, the practice can generate massive savings in health care.

The U.S. spends around $2 trillion a year on health care, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to cut back on those costs, while simultaneously improving public health and lowering carbon emissions?

Copenhagen recently published its 2012 Bicycle Account, which enumerates the considerable public benefits of commuter biking. One-third of the city’s population bikes to work, and this has benefited everything from transportation costs to security, tourism, traffic infrastructure, and public health...

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How bikes can solve America’s most pressing problems

How bikes can solve America’s most pressing problems | green streets | Scoop.it

Air quality, obesity, commute times, strained family budgets, unnecessary deaths, runaway health care expenses -- is there anything that a mass shift to bicycles transportation wouldn't solve? And it's not like this is a fantasy -- Europe has demonstrated that not only is this possible, it's the future.

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Next Up For Brooklyn, an Urban Gondola

Next Up For Brooklyn, an Urban Gondola | green streets | Scoop.it

The East River Skyway aims to alleviate transit congestion along the Brooklyn waterfront by taking commuters off the grid.

The East River Skyway is a proposal for a multi-phase urban gondola to connect the growing residential and commercial corridors between Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. The proposal calls for an aerial transit system to be built out in stages, with the first line connecting the Lower East Side and Williamsburg. Subsequent lines might include a connection between Lower Manhattan, Dumbo, and Brooklyn Navy Yard, as well as a line threading between Midtown, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, and Williamsburg...

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Norm Miller's curator insight, September 25, 2014 4:31 PM

These become great for residents and tourists but the lawyers often find the liabilities too much of a concern when the gondolas pass over roads, bridges or people in some way.  Hope this one actually happens.

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Riding Sunlight: Solar Power for Public Transportation

Riding Sunlight: Solar Power for Public Transportation | green streets | Scoop.it
For those concerned about the environmental impact of their daily commute, taking public transportation may be a way to be nicer to the planet. According to statistics highlighted by the Sustainable Cities Collective, taking public transportation over driving can save 340 million gallons of fuel from being used, preventing the release of 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Now, public transportation is becoming even better for the environment thanks to the benefits of solar power. From California to Massachusetts, public transportation agencies are increasingly turning to photovoltaic energy to keep their operations running smoothly.

While trains are not (yet) propelled by photovoltaic energy, some public transportation agencies do use solar panels to help power their rail fleets. For example, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority announced in September that it would be putting up solar modules on an 18-acre rail yard and on a garage. The installations, paid for through a power purchase agreement, are expected to save the MBTA close to $49,000 a year by providing an estimated 1.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, Boston.com reported.

On the other side of the country, L.A. Metro has announced its intentions to install a combined 2 megawatts of PV energy capacity on all of its bus and rail facilities in Los Angeles County, according to Clean Fleet Report...

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Are Urban Microcenters the Solution to Urban Sprawl?

Are Urban Microcenters the Solution to Urban Sprawl? | green streets | Scoop.it
During the last decades, the conurbation problem in large cities has increased, reaching alarming levels.

At present, the average time a person needs to travel from home to a workplace is around 4 hours, which represents a total loss of 20 hours every week, that is, 80 hours per month, 960 hours yearly, which translates into a total of 40 days in traffic a year.

This is reflected in time loss, otherwise destined for leisure, quality of life, time spent with family, in addition to the obvious heavy traffic, which results in enormous energy costs for moving this population, and this translates in huge CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, in other words, “pollution”.

Hence, the need to create urban microcenters, that are located in central areas in the city, where the necessary infrastructure for transportation, subway systems, metro buses, buses, etc., as well as water supply, sewage, energy power, is already present. Moreover, they integrate elements in the design of their façades and facilities that allow reductions of resources and generated waste; also, they are mostly vertical urban groups that merge different activities on one place, integrating housing, offices, commerce, hotels, fun, and mostly, public spaces in squares, gardens on the ground floor or even on higher levels. The objective is to reduce the need to travel around the city, which at the same time has a direct bearing on traffic density. This allows the quality of life of users, to improve, which makes the city more efficient...

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Max Minard's curator insight, May 26, 11:07 PM

This article plans out a possible solution to decrease the time it takes to travel around the city. In order to do so, it introduces the idea of urban micro centers located in the center of cities where all major aspects of the city are present. This solution also helps reduce the amount of pollution that is emitted in urban areas since it allows reasonable walking distances from people's homes to their jobs in the micro center. Altogether, I believe that this is a successful plan and I would suggest this design to any major city. It will overall increase environmental benefits, increase efficiency, and provide a key model to solve the issue of urban sprawl. 

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Do Bike Paths Promote Bike Riding?

Do Bike Paths Promote Bike Riding? | green streets | Scoop.it

The "fundamental law of road congestion" tells us that building roads creates traffic. There's such a latent demand for space on the highway that no sooner does it appear than it's filled. But whether or not a similar law applies to bike paths and bike lanes remains a mystery.

A recent study of Seattle residents found that those living near bike paths had an increased likelihood of riding, but saw no effect for bike lanes. Then again, a study in Minneapolis reached the opposite conclusion. Some recent work has found no connection between bike lanes and ridership levels at all. In short, the research picture is far from settled...

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