Watercooler: Queens of the Surface Streets

Just what were we chatting about last week? Well, it was a livable cities type of week. City governments, citizens, and the organizations trying to make them just a bit more livable and a bit more people friendly captured our attention and bubbled to the top of our Watercooler. This happened just as the weather was reaching the temperatures that, unfortunately, discouraged the sane to go anywhere near the street.  Here's a glimpse at what we were chatting about in the OpenPlans office last week:

Livable Streets

Strong Cities, Strong Communities Visioning Challenge is a competition to help economically distressed cities leverage innovative strategies to spur local economic and job growth. via US Dept of Commerce

+ Cities are systematically taking an interest in smaller, cheaper, localized efforts to positively affect urban renewal. Instead of focusing on large scale re-development and building projects like highways, slum removal or stadiums, more and more city governments are leading small urban blight reducing projects – pop-up parks, block parties or small community gardens – projects that were once the province of independent community groups.  Tactical urbanism is becoming a bit less guerrilla.  via salon.com

+ Speaking of urban change on a small scale….NYC saw a major livable streets and citizen advocacy success – 78th St in Jackson Heights Queens will permanently become a park.  Leading us to the question of how could the process (from idea to play street to park) become easier for other citizen groups to follow and city agencies to standardaize?  – via NY Daily News

+ Check out this Streetfilm below about the 78th St Play Street: “A Car Free Street Grows in Qeeens” from 2010- via streetfilms.org

+ Bring bak* Amtrak! “Though the Sunset Limited is part of Amtrak’s National Route System, it has been categorized as “suspended” since Katrina, essentially saving money after the natural disaster. Now to get from Jacksonville to New Orleans by rail, you first must go to North Carolina. A national disgrace?  Shrewed business decision on Amtrak's part? Why hasn't Amtrak returned the service to this line and will they? via tallahassee.com

+ Livable Streets: Houston -Did you know the city is projected to grow by 3.5 million people by 2040? This paper from TRB looks at the need for developing Livable Centers and the tools needed to promote this type of dense growth to traditionally sprawl-y Houston. Tools such as density/benefits calculator, scenario planning and areas for partnership between extant advocacy groups are noted.  Will Houston grow into a livable city?  via Transportation Research Board

+ Queen of the Surface Streets by DeVotchka via youtube.com

+ Scenario planning tools on the web: a showcase of some examples of using the web to engage participants in scenario plan generation. via scenarioplanningtools.org

+ Artist Candy Chang sets out in New Orleans to create the types of projects and communites that happen on the internet happen in real life. She explores ways and creates the projects to engage people offline, in the real world.  via Next American City

+  If given the choice between being struck by a moving car or a moving bike, I would take the bike.  A study is now backing that preference up, saying that pedestrians have little to fear from ped-on-bike collisions. “but the odds that a cyclist might actually kill, or even maim you are incredibly slim, according to new city data”.  Science tells us what we all knew already! via NY Observer

+ This is the best summary I've seen about the current state of routing in iOS 6. Interestingly, it seems to be based on facts…  via waxy.org

+ And finally, when life throws you lemons, just walk: via @doctor_jeff