ITDP wrote up case studies of 8 relatively new car-free (or very car-light) neighborhoods in Europe, with scales ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of people, and how they compare to adjacent, similar communities, in terms of transportation mode share, etc. It’s great to see developments like this happening outside of the 500 year old city centers where cars really can’t be squeezed in without destroying the district. The urban density required to do this and make it work really isn’t all that high. Two developments each in Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands, one outside London, and another in Switzerland.
In livable, human-scale cities, a lot of cargo can be moved more efficiently by bike. The EU is funding a pilot project called CycleLogistics to collect data on just how effectively human powered cargo can be scaled up. With modest electrical assistance, loads can scale up to as much as 250 or even 500 kg, and stay human scale. It’ll be very interesting to see the results.
The New York Times almost seems upset that in Europe the mobility of people, not motor vehicles, is the measure of an urban transportation system. With finite funding and urban space constraints, you sometimes have to choose which mode to prioritize. Pedestrians, bicycles, and mass transit all move more people in less space, with less GHG emissions, noise and pollution, more safely than cars. De-prioritizing automobiles also makes streets into vastly more livable public spaces. It’s not about making life bad for cars, it’s about making it good for people!
A pleasantly surprised American cyclist commenting on bike infrastructure in Switzerland and Austria, in particular Basel and Innsbruck, two European cities that aren’t particularly big (166k and 120k respectively), and which do have some weather and topography, not so different from Boulder. Basel’s bike mode share is 17%, about double Boulder’s, and their bike infrastructure is fantastic. If we get another 9% of our trips by bike, can we have that too please? Or maybe the causality is the other way around.
Seville, Spain has gone from 0.4% (essentially zero) to 7% bicycle mode share in 5 years. Boulder’s bike share is something like 9% and we’ve been at it for 20-30 years. This suggests to me that we are being too timid, and that we have no reason to rest on our laurels. Seville did this on the cheap, and they did it fast, by taking a small amount of space from cars, and giving it to people, while also physically protecting the people from the cars.
- The Story of Stuff – A 20 minute video on where "stuff" comes from, and where it goes, and a little bit on why, and how we might do it differently. Yeah, it's sustainability propaganda, but sometimes that's okay. (tagged: sustainability green economics politics energy environment recycling design )
- Russia makes major shift in climate policy – I will be amazed if Russia actually shifts its climate policy in any functional way. I suspect they feel free to make this politically advantageous statement because there doesn't appear to be any real threat of the world doing anything substantive about climate change, so why not get on the hypocrisy bandwagon and avoid any unnecessary conflict over it? Perhaps more than any other nation, Russia stands to benefit from climate change: gas and oil sales, and a massive unusable northern seaboard, as well as huge oil and gas reserves on its northern continental shelf, increased agricultural productivity, less harsh winters, no serious domestic population or water pressures, etc. This is normal Russian politics. (tagged: russia climate economics politics )
- Short version of the CEPHEUS final report – A Europe-wide study of passive houses and the passivhaus standard developed in Germany, for possible use as an EU-wide energy efficiency building standard. (tagged: architecture sustainability green energy europe policy passivhaus design system:filetype:pdf system:media:document )
- Automobile Dependency and Economic Development – A study on the economic costs and benefits of automobile dependency, showing that up to a certain point cars can have economic benefits, but that encouraging dependence on them to a greater degree than that actually ends up being worse economically. (tagged: transportation cars economics urban design science policy sustainability system:filetype:pdf system:media:document )
- Growing Power – A two acre farm in Milwaukee growing food for 2000 people in greenhouses and hoop houses year round, heated by decomposing compost, with fish producing fertile waters for the plants, and worms breaking down the incoming nutrient stream: 80,000 lbs of food scraps every week from restaurants and institutional kitchens. (tagged: sustainability urban food agriculture garden )
- Car-Free Housing in European Cities – A survey of sustainable residential development projects across Europe, including Vauban, outside Freiburg. The study is from 2000, so it's a little out of date, but an interesting overview anyway. It would be great to have a decadal survey of such developments, to see how they evolve and deal with growing pains, and issues which arise in their experimental settings… (tagged: urban design sustainability architecture europe bicycle )
- Nuns arrive at eco-convent and leave behind high-carbon habit – An interesting set of design choices by an organization with what one would imagine is a very long time horizon. Their old (stone) convent was certainly built to last centuries, structurally. I wonder if the new one is too, or if the construction methods, while minimizing energy consumption while the building functions, will ultimately require more embodied energy as it has to be re-build more frequently? Most homes today aren't built to last much more than the length of a mortgage contract. In the US anyway. (tagged: sustainability religion architecture design green environment )
- 28 Reasons to Bike – A list of reasons why biking is good for you, for others, and for the city you live in. Of varying importance, quality, and subjectivity. But a good list to discuss in any case, with references for more extensive information. (tagged: politics transportation bicycle green urban sustainability policy economics )
- The Solipsist and the Internet – Larry Lessig offers a (very) lengthly review of of Helprin's "Digital Barbarism", which is an argument (an abjectly bad one in Lessig's view) in favor of infinite copyrights. Oh. My. God. And I thought *I* knew how to rant! (tagged: law internet technology copyright )
- sea kayaking patagonia – This looks like an awesome trip, 50 days paddling south through Patagonia from Puerto Montt. Now, can it be combined somehow with a bike ride from Buenos Aires? (tagged: travel kayak spanish patagonia chile paddling )