World Wide Wednesday: Transit maps, subway stations, and monorails

Each week we will be focusing on blogs from around the world dealing specifically with urban environments. We’ll be on the lookout for websites outside the country that approach themes related to urban experiences and issues.

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• Should private corporations be allowed to purchase the naming rights of public subway stations? The Transit Politic Blog muses on the answer as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) considers selling Philadelphia’s Pattison Avenue subway station to At&T (a decision that has since been voted through by the SEPTA board). Yonah Freemark makes a compelling argument for why “removing [a station’s] geography-based name and replacing it with a corporate name” not only diminishes a station’s character but is also needlessly disorienting.

• A fascinating post on the Human Transit Blog applies scientific studies on how our brains navigate space to how we understand the urban environment. Differentiating between spatial navigators at one extreme, and narrative navigators on the other, Jarrett Walker looks at how these different navigational strategies effect everything from our ability to understand transit maps, to how we give directions, to who makes a good taxi driver.

• The Iraqi shrine city of Najaf is getting a monorail, making it the first city in the country to get a rapid transit system. The Daily Star Lebanon reports that the city has signed a deal with Canada-based TransGlobim International Inc. to complete the $248-million, 37 kilometre system within the next three years.

• Staying on the transit theme, the Sustainable Cities Collective has published Jan Gehl and Walter Hook‘s Ten Principles for Transport in Urban Life. The principles were taken from recent report of the same name released by the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). While the insights won’t be anything new to most Spacing readers (i.e. build denser cities, support public transit, design for pedestrians) they’re eloquently and succinctly expressed by foremost experts in the field.

photo of Philadelphia subway station from It’s Our City