Urban Planet is a daily roundup of 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.
• Did you ride your bike to school as a kid? According to this piece on NPR, back in 1969 nearly half of children got to school on foot or by bike. Today, that figure is closer to 13%. Reporter David Darlington talks about what has changed – from concerns about liability to sprawling neighbourhood design to a changing understanding of bikes as recreation rather than transportation.
• From the makers of Walk Score and just in time for “Bike to Work Week” comes Bike Score – the online tool for assessing neighbourhood bikeability. The tool uses data including the locations of bicycle infrastructure, amenities and hills. And Canadian cities are featured too!
• It’s been in international headlines throughout the past few weeks over false reports that it will be changing its name, but this tiny Austrian hamlet has been “Fucking” (or close to it) since the Dark Ages.
Nestled right near the Austrian-German border, Fucking is home to just over 100 residents. It’s credited as being named after a Bavarian noble named Focko who lived in the area during the 6th century (-ing being an old Germanic suffix meaning “people of”). The first documentation of the settlement was in 1070, when it was called Vucchingen. The next mention, two decades later, was of the local lord, Adalpertus de Fucingin. The name evolved to Fukching in 1303, then Fugkhing in 1532, with the current spelling taking over in the 18th century.
The community got its first international attention during World War II as British and American soldiers had their pictures taken beside the four traffic signs, which simply read “Fucking.” British tourists have become very popular in last half century and are notorius for taking lewd photographs and even stealing the signs. The community recently replaced the signs with welded steel and concrete ones to deter theft. While the taxpayers weren’t happy with constantly replacing the old (costing €300 each), it did make for some unintentionally funny quotes from local officials:
“We will not stand for the Fucking signs being removed. It may be very amusing for you British, but Fucking is simply Fucking to us. What is this big Fucking joke? It is puerile.”
However, it seems the community does also embrace its English meaning. Starting in 2008, Fucking has been home to the Festival of the Fuck Bands, a gathering of similarly-named bands from all over the world.
• If you’ve dreamed of living in LEGO paradise since you were a child, Dwell has the home for you. In partnership with Pacific Standard Time, the magazine launched a challenge to architects and lego-tects alike to construct a model of an original home inspired by Californian mid-century modern architecture using only using LEGO bricks. The results are well worth checking out.
• Booooooom.com has a great collection of unique and colourful Japanese manhole covers.
Image from sfbike