Car Free Journey: Bar Harbor, Maine

May 21, 2014

Car Free Journey: June, 2014—by Steve Atlas

A favorite getaway choice in summer for many Americans is a visit to a national park. Acadia National Park, located in Bar Harbor, Maine is the only U.S. national park in the northeastern United States. While not as large as the national parks in the West, Acadia’s scenic beauty and coastal location makes it a popular choice for visitors from around the world.

Fortunately, visitors who don’t want to drive can easily enjoy Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Be sure to plan your trip here between June 23 and the second Monday in October (Columbus Day) when the free Island Explorer buses can take you nearly anywhere you want to go in Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, and other popular spots on Mount Desert Island.

Because the Island Explorer begins operating on June 23, this month’s Car Free Journey spotlights Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Read the rest of this entry »


A Recent History of Bike Lanes in the U.S.

May 13, 2014

As frustratingly slow as Ecocity change seems to be at times, good people are working on good projects all the time. Look no further than the streets of San Francisco at the astounding development of bike infrastructure there. In the past 5 years designated bike lanes, bulb-outs and the like have exploded. Riding “The Wiggle”–a winding path that avoids the steepest hills between downtown and the Panhandle–has gone from a terrifying race through speeding traffic on Market, Oak and Fell streets, to a much saner and more accessible protected bike lane route. The signature green paint and share-os of bike lanes seem to multiply every week.

San Francisco’s rapid development of cycling infrastructure is no accident, and is not simply the work of Bicycle Coalition lobbying. The Fog City is part of a network of cities organized by the Department of Transportation called PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project. The Green Lane Project creates a bridge (and funding opportunities) for bike advocacy groups and city governments to work together to improve urban biking conditions. Selected cities receive up to $250,000 of financial, strategic and technical assistance from the project for building protected bike lanes.

In cities across America, investing in bicycle transportation is transitioning from an add-on catering to few cyclist hobbyists to an essential component of citizen transportation. In the last two years, the number of protected lane projects in the country has nearly doubled, reports Streetsblog. According to the Green Lane Project, 48% of all trips in the U.S. are 4 miles or less–a perfectly acceptable cycling distance for most riders. Protected bike lanes not only protect riders, but shave been shown to reduce traffic crashes for all street users by 34%. Dividers, bulb-outs, and other road development “help to make drivers more aware of their surroundings and more cautious.”

The payoff on cycling investment continues beyond the safety and enjoyment of the cycling experience to addressing pressing needs for urban transportation in the coming years.

“When you have a swelling population like the USA has and will have for the next 35 years, one of the most cost-effective ways to better fit that population is to better use the existing grid,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at a recent Green Lane Project gathering. Bikes are part of the solution to a highway trust fund that is “teetering toward insolvency” by August or September, he said.

Six U.S. cities–Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and Washington, DC–began the Green Lane Project in 2012. This April the partner cities expanded to include Atlanta,  Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

To celebrate the new city partners, the Green Lane Project has released a short film highlighting the advances in cycling infrastructure of the last few years. Enjoy!

The Rise of Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S. from Green Lane Project on Vimeo.


Ecocitizen Map Project Slideshow: Casablanca, Cairo and Medellín

April 30, 2014

See the photos from the Ecocitizen Team’s recent trip around the world – Morocco, Egypt, and Colombia – conducting trainings on community mapping. Also includes pictures from the wiWorld Urban Forum 7 in Medellín. Read the rest of this entry »


Ecocity Insights: IEFS at a Glance

April 29, 2014

by Jennie Moore, Director, Sustainable Development and Environmental Stewardship, British Colombia Institute of Technology

The IEFS encompasses 15 conditions that together constitute the parameters of an ecocity (www.ecocitystandards.org). Indicators within each condition inform whether a city is achieving ecocity performance. The IEFS encompasses six levels of performance that move a city from an unhealthy and unsustainable condition through three phases of green city development and onward through three levels of ecocity development. Cities that pass the Ecocity 3 threshold would theoretically achieve GAIA status, existing in regenerative symbiosis with nature’s ecosystems.

In order to understand what constitutes an ecocity, Ecocity Builders has been working with an IEFS Core Advisor Group to develop the Ecocity 1 performance parameters. This includes identification of a suitable group of indicators within each of the 15 ecocity conditions that if achieved would indicate that a given city is an ecocity, a city in balance with nature.

The fifteen ecocity conditions span ecological, social and economic considerations and comprise the following:
– access by proximity
– clean Air
– clean and safe water
– healthy soil
– responsible resources and materials
– clean and renewable energy
– healthy and accessible food
– healthy culture
– community capacity/governance
– healthy and equitable economy
– lifelong education
– well being/quality of life
– healthy biodiversity
– earth’s carrying capacity
– ecological integrity

Next steps in developing the IEFS include working with early partner cities to test the applicability and suitability of the indicators within each of the 15 conditions. In some cases the data needed to assess an indicator may not be available or may prove costly to obtain. Strategies for accessing data and obtaining missing information will need to be explored in order to develop the IEFS in such a way that all cities, regardless of their level of development and access to resources, can participate in self-assessment using the IEFS.

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British Columbia Institute of Technology School of Construction and the Environment is Lead Sponsor of the International Ecocity Framework and Standards Initiative


Car Free Journey: Spokane

April 28, 2014

Car Free Journey: May, 2014 — by Steve Atlas

When thinking of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle and Portland are the two cities that come immediately to mind. However, there are other places in Washington and Oregon that are also good choices for visitors who don’t want to drive. Best of all, they are likely to be less crowded and more compact than larger cities.

In this month’s Car Free Journey, we will spotlight one of these too-often-overlooked getaway cities: Spokane, Washington.

Spokane has an average of 260 days of sunshine, is close in the midst of the outdoors and has a walkable city center. It is a great choice for visitors who don’t want to drive as much of what you need is accessible on foot or bike, and anything outside of downtown can be easily reached by public transportation.

Let’s begin our Car Free Journey.

Welcome to Spokane!

Spokane is the largest city in Spokane County of which it is also the county seat. It is the fourth largest city and metropolitan area in the Pacific Northwest region. The city is located on the Spokane River in eastern Washington, 92 miles south of the Canadian border, approximately 20 miles from the Washington-Idaho border, and 232 miles east of Seattle. According to the 2010 Census, the city of Spokane has a population of 208,916. The Spokane Metropolitan Statistical Area (including Spokane, Stevens and Pen Oreille counties) has a population of 532,253.
The city’s name is drawn from the American Indian tribe known as the Spokane, which means “Children of the Sun” in Salishan. Spokane’s official nickname is the “Lilac City” for the flowers that have flourished since their introduction to the area in the early 20th century. Spokane has three major claims to fame. It is known as the birthplace of Father’s Days; it hosted the first environmentally themed World’s Fair, Expo ’74; and Spokane was awarded the All-America-City award by the National Civic League in 1974 and 2004. Read the rest of this entry »


Active Design Awards: 7 projects keeping people (and the environment) healthy

April 22, 2014

Partially reblogged from http://centerforactivedesign.org/2014awardwinners

Center for Active Design: Excellence

Recognizing design that can make people healthier and happier is the goal of a recent awards by The Center for Active Design, an organization launched in New York City in 2013 by the Bloomberg Administration’s Obesity Task Force. This week the Center announced the first every winners of the Excellence in Active Design award competition. The competition intends to publicize and recognize the role of design in addressing preventable disease by encouraging physical activity through the design of buildings and public space.

A jury of design and health professionals selected four winning projects and two honorable mentions for the Center for Active Design Excellence award according to the checklists found in the Active Design Guidelines, published in 2010. Preference was given to projects with research studies of proven impact. The jury also acknowledged the extent to which cross-sector and community collaboration were required in order to realize the results achieved. The Leadership in Active Design Excellence award recognizes an early adopter of Active Design with an established track record of Active Design implementation. All winning projects exemplify innovation in the implementation of Active Design, the press release states.

The Center was pleased to see projects submitted for review came from regions well beyond its hometown of New York City, spanning the US from New Mexico to Washington, Virginia to Texas, and countries from Argentina to Denmark. This strong showing is evidence that Active Design is growing nationally and internationally as designers are more knowledgeable of the health affects of their work.

Award recipients will be recognized at “Celebrate Active Design”, to be held in New York City on May 19, 2014. The fundraising event is open to the public from 7pm – 9pm. For more information on purchasing tickets, please click here.

Read on to find out more about these projects! Read the rest of this entry »


All eyes on Medellín

April 7, 2014

Medellín, the host of the World Urban Forum next week, is well worthy of the recent attention. From city blighted by crime and urban decay, Medellín has embraced innovative urban policy that has drastically improved public safety while focusing on sustainability and public transportation. Learn more about the trail blazing work that is earning this Colombian city international recognition.

Streetfilms Medellín: Colombia’s Sustainable Transport Capital

Medellín was awarded the 2012 Sustainable Transport Award. Streetfilms partnered with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy to document some of the changes taking place in Medellín.

 

Further reading:

How transit and architecture have stopped crime and transformed the city

http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/global-site-plans-grid/185276/medellin-how-transportation-innovation-have-given-failing-city-chance

 

Medellín’s revolutionary public transportation infastructure

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/03/13/443330/medellin-metro-system-colombia-public-transport/

 

Medellín is crowned the “Most Innovative City of the Year” by the Urban Land Instute, the Wall Street Journal, and Citi in 2013

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/02/medellin-named-innovative-city-of-the-year_n_2794425.html


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