The Power of Nearness

February 9, 2010

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.
– Albert Einstein

City planners aren’t usually on the list of people we associate with paradigm-shifting embers of wisdom. Spiritual leaders, artists, and philosophers — yes — they have sparked our collective imagination and shaped the course of society throughout history. While Be the change you wish to see in the world and I have a Dream will forever be guiding lights in our journey through a complex and often confusing world, it’s clear that each generation brings with it the need for new symbols and archetypes in response to the struggles of its time.

It was at last month’s Ecocity World Summit in Istanbul that I thought I’d heard a concept expressed that reflects and encompasses so much of the millennial Zeitgeist, as a theme to embrace as well as aspire to: The Power of Nearness

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New Study: Cyclists and pedestrians still getting shortchanged

February 4, 2010

Okay, so we know that despite troubles in Detroit and Toyotaland the automobile is still king in the US of A. But sometimes it takes some raw numbers to bring home just how much the entire country’s infrastructure is stacked against non-driving traffic participants.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking just released the 2010 Benchmarking Report on bicycling and walking in the U.S. The 192 page report collected and analyzed data from all fifty states and the 51 largest U.S. cities.

From bicycle and pedestrian staffing levels to bike racks on buses, this report is a tour de force of numbers, data and statistics concerning the millions of trips taken every day by foot or bike. The bottom line though is this: While 9.6% of all trips nationwide are people powered, a mere 1.2% of federal transportation funding is spent on bicycling and walking.

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