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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

World Wide Wednesday: Mobile Food, Noisy Hybrids, Fighting for the Empire, Moscow Traffic

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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.

NPR chronicles a growing trend for start up chefs who use trucks, trailers and mobile homes to sell their food to the masses. The overwhelming expense of starting a restaurant isn’t stopping these gastro-preneurs from practicing their art.

•  The Globe and Mail reports that for $148 U.S., Japanese Prius owners can now install noise makers into their hybrid cars. The devices make a whirring sound equivalent to the noise of a regular car engine; regulators and automakers hope the move will reduce the number of pedestrian-hybrid crashes which are two times more common than with conventional engines. The device may soon be made available in other markets.

•  New Yorkers are fighting a contentious battle between preserving their iconic skyline and increasing density near the Penn Station transit hub. The New York Times reports on a 1,216 feet tower proposed for 34th Street, two avenues west of the Empire State Building. While the City Planning Commission has approved the tower, Community Board 5 has not – citing an unusually large zoning bonus for the development.

•  The New Yorker has a delightful video teaser this week for an article on the relentless traffic of Moscow. Author Keith Gessin identifies the city’s limited access points and wide roads as major problems and notes the creative solutions proposed by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Gessin wonders if it isn’t Russians’ habituation to waiting in soviet-style lines that keeps them in their cars in spite of the interminable waiting this entails.