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Posts Tagged ‘walkable’

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Santiago, Chili, turned a congested area into a walkable, artistic delight for $550,000 raised from sponsors. But will the pilot program last?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. In the congested capital of Chile, people who value walkable cities took matters into their own hands to pilot a livability initiative. The only question now: will it last?

As Martín Echenique reported at CityLab, “It was all done in record time. In just 30 days, more than 120 people — led by 32-year-old Chilean visual artist Dasic Fernández — transformed one of the most congested and iconic streets in the center of the Chilean capital.

“Today, Bandera Street, next to the government palace and the city’s main square, is a colorful promenade, thanks to an urban intervention that’s unprecedented in Latin America. …

“Fernández, who lives in New York City, joined forces with architect Juan Carlos López, and in three days they developed a proposal to sway the mayor: The idea was to transform Bandera into an example of tactical urbanism that fused art and architecture, and that would set a precedent for how both disciplines can successfully intervene in urban spaces. …

“ ‘The idea was to pedestrianize the street, to put a little green area, some color and furniture. There was nothing like an elaborate request from the municipality,’ said Fernández. …

“The Municipality of Santiago did not have to take any money out of its pocket. The entire project was financed, basically, through payments made by various brands to make their logos visible on the Paseo, where tens of thousands walk through each day. … According to the artist, the total cost of the project did not exceed $550,000. …

“ ‘We made a team of 20 local and Latin American muralists, who painted each block in eight or 10 hours. There was a whole coordination. It was a true visual choreography,’ said Fernández. …

“At the end of this year, the Chilean capital will have to make a decision: either reopen the Paseo to cars and public transport, or keep it pedestrianized, permanently. …

“The decision is not in the hands of the municipality, but with the Chilean Ministry of Transport, which has already indicated that the street must be reopened to public transport. However, the mayor of Santiago, Felipe Alessandri, is advocating for Bandera to remain an exclusively pedestrian route and cultural space. …

“Although Fernández says that he is accustomed to his work being temporary or reversible, he hopes that the Paseo Bandera can remain as a pedestrian street, not only because it sets a precedent in the region, but because he believes such spaces create a sense of citizenship.”

Read about the ancient and modern themes of the mural and also about previous Santiago design innovations at CityLab, here.

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I was reading an article by Kathleen Wolf, a social scientist whose “work is based on principles of environmental psychology and focuses on the human dimensions of urban forests and ecosystems.”

The following words struck me: “Interviewees say that merely looking at trees tends to reduce mental and physical stress. A walkable green environment is also thought to increase life satisfaction in later life and even longevity.” Hmm.

So to borrow some words from local honcho H.D. Thoreau, “I went to the woods to see if I could live” longer.

Photos include the Hapgood Wright Town Forest, Joe Pye Weed, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a log like a scaly snake, and various fungi indicating mysteries beneath the surface.

hapgood-wright-town-forest

scaly-snake-log

joe-pye-weed

10-fott-weed-and-swallowtail

fungus

lonely-mushroom

something-is-below-the-surface

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On Saturday we watched the documentary Urbanized, about urban planning.

Although there were many discouraging notes (Mumbai slums, Beijing smog, destructive construction in Stuttgart), there were enough positive ones to give hope.

I liked the grassroots gardening efforts in Detroit, pedestrian/bike paths in Bogota (while cars were relegated to mud), miraculous transformations of aging infrastructure (the High Line in Manhattan), lighted paths in Cape Town, and bicycle commuting in Copenhagen.

The point was made that walkability (one of my favorite topics, as readers know) and similar quality-of-life improvements in cities can be hugely beneficial to the planet just because cities are so big and changes there affect so many people.

Doug Foy, who helped get Boston Harbor cleaned up and now consults with New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg, has spoken at my workplace a few times. He likes to talk about how New York avoided buying a whole new water supply simply by partnering with plumbers unions to get standard toilets gradually replaced with low-flush toilets.

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Planetizen’s Brent Toderian wrote a while back that he attended a book party in Vancouver where Simon Fraser University City Program Director Gordon Price asked “each member of the crowd to state an urban design decision that ‘they loved.’ …

“When it came to my turn, my answer took a big picture and perhaps surprising approach, depending on your definition of urban design. In Vancouver, a city often referred to as ‘a city by design,’ the most important urban design decision we ever made, the decision I loved most, is actually usually referred to as a transportation decision.

“In 1997, the city approved its first influential Transportation Plan.

“It was a game-changer for our city-making model in many ways, most notably in its decision to prioritize the ways we get around, rather than balance them. The active, healthy and green ways of getting around were ranked highest – first walking, our top priority, then biking, and then transit, in that order. The prioritization then went on to goods movement for the purposes of business support and economic development, and lastly, the private vehicle. …

“If you’re a driver who is worried about a ‘war on the car,’ remember this — our model of city building understands the ‘Law of Congestion’ and proves that when you build a multimodal city, it makes getting around better and easier for every mode of transportation, including the car. It makes our city work better in every way.”

Read Toderian’s whole Planetizen post, here.

Photo: Vancouver.ca

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Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Because the lecture was on walkable communities, I walked to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy today.

Julie Campoli was scheduled to talk about her book Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form.

From the Institute’s website: “In this era of high energy prices, economic uncertainty, and demographic change, an increasing number of Americans are showing an interest in urban living as an alternative to the traditional automobile-dependent suburb. Many people are also concerned about reducing their annual vehicle miles traveled as a way to lower greenhouse gas emissions affecting climate change. …

“Researchers delving into the question of how urban form affects travel behavior identify specific characteristics of place that boost walking and transit use while reducing [vehicle miles traveled]. In the 1990s some pinpointed diversity (of land uses), density, and design as the key elements  … After a decade of successive studies on the topic, these ‘three Ds’ were joined by two others deemed equally important—distance to transit and destination accessibility … Added to the list is another key player: parking.”

Campoli talked about all five elements, showed great pictures, and shared intriguing stories from successful communities. More.

By the way, if I had gone by car to the lecture instead of on foot, I would most assuredly have missed the possum, one of the more contemplative creatures in Cambridge today. He was still on his branch when I walked back after the presentation. But he had turned around.

possum_near_Harvard_Square.

 

 

 

 

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