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.
• It seems every month there is a new more fuel efficient car on the market. But according to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute, these efficiency gains are being overwhelmed by the growing number of vehicles on the road and the distances we are travelling in them. Production of passenger cars will reach an all time record of 66.1 million in 2012 – driven in large part by the no. 1 producer, China. At the same time, demand for electric vehicles remains weak. (National Geographic: Great Energy Challenge)
• At the New York Observer, Matt Chaban speaks with Department of Transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Kahn, and a range of other New Yorkers about the opening of 6 ½ Avenue – a series of connected pedestrian plazas running from 51st – 57th streets. The seven passages are privately owned public spaces connected by crosswalks. According to those surveyed, some are enjoying the new pedestrian space while others feel that the project was a waste of money that makes it harder for cabs to stop.
• Ever get those traffic lights that take forever to change in your favour (ahem… the ones in front of the Spacing office perhaps)? Two German students might have the solution for bored pedestrians.
The students, from HAWK University in Hildesheim, Germany have developed a concept for including touch screen videogames at intesections, which allows pedestrians on either side of the street play against each other. While Pong hasn’t actually hit the streets of Germany yet, rather the game itself was greenscreened in for the purpose of the video, it is quite a neat concept.
Thankfully, the designers didn’t choose to go with Frogger.
• After running up against a brick wall when talking to big box developers about walkability, consultant Mariela Alfonzo realized that she needed a different approach. Their focus on the bottom line, to the exclusion of all other considerations, convinced her that walkability needed an economic argument if it was to make a dent. Towards this end, Alfonzo created a State of Place index, which she considers to be more fine grained than the popular Walk Score. Her hope is that the tool will help to make the economic case for good pedestrian environments. (The Atlantic Cities)
• Canadian Zak Pashak moved to Detroit to start his bicycle manufacturing company, Detroit Bikes. After a successful stint running Broken City (a live music club in Calgary) and the Sled Island Music festival, Pashak became frustrated with the bureaucratic culture in Calgary that stifles entrepreneurship. Pashak describes his adopted home as being open to creativity. “People want to see positive change in Detroit, so they are deeply invested in what is happening there. They want to hear new ideas. It’s a great atmosphere for business.” (The Globe and Mail)
Image from Buzreal