Now that Christmas vacation 2012 is behind me, it’s time to start wishing farewell to all of these tabs cluttering up my browser! (So much good content, so little time). Here’s a not-so-comprehensive, rapid-fire take on the urbanist happenings that piqued my interest in 2012:
The grands boulevards of Paris — a stretch of former one-way streets comprising of 4-lanes of traffic — went two-way in December 2012. I struggle to express the magnitude of this change. Not only is traffic moving slower and in both directions on these major boulevards for the first time since 1951, but also there are separated bike lanes as well a separated bus lanes.
Imagine if Howard Street in San Francisco went two-way, made more room for bikes, and set aside lanes for buses. That’s kind of what this is like in Paris.
I discovered in November that the City of Paris has a neat interactive map which shows the implementation of the general plan Paris 2020 (more about this later). This is just so cool, because you can actually follow the evolution of the 20-year-plan that was approved about 13 years ago. And talk about online/offline synergy, there’s a Paris Projet 2020 installation that circles the Hôtel de Ville. Fun fact: 10% of the city of Paris is in development now.
Also in November, the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, presented his “anti-pollution plan” for Paris which, among other policies, suggested banning old cars from the city center as well as dropping the speed limit along the Périphérique, or ring highway. As far as I can tell, no political parties like this plan. Especially not the Daily News of Long Island.
One last thing about November, there was this election. Maybe you heard that
President Barack Obama was re-elected the City of San Francisco approved a housing trust fund? Right everyone knows about that! No, seriously. SF voters not only created a long-term dedicated source of $$ for affordable housing, but also incentives to build more moderate-income housing. Check out SF rents to see how sorely this is needed.
Paris hosted an awesome shoe exhibit.
In September, Architect Sam Martin proposed that the City of London invest in a network of “bike highways in the sky.” According to the Business Insider story, Mayor Boris Johnson “likes the idea.” H/t Will Hancock-Cerutti.
On July 14, 2012, Vélib’ turned five years-old. This is notable because most five-year-olds are pretty adorable, and this distinction makes Vélib’ the world’s oldest major bikesharing system in the world. It’s also what brought me 6,000 miles from home (as United flies). The City of Paris published an “anatomy of success” of Vélib’ on Nov. 21. Expect more detail to be presented on this blog soon.
If you ever had to plow your way through Ulysses in college, wouldn’t have a series of maps been quite helpful? If you have a penchant for Joyce or you enjoy literary tourism, check out these narrative maps over at Big Think. H/t Aaron Beckemeyer.
This American Life produced a great episode in March 2012 called “What Kind of Country” in which the team explored just how Americans want to distribute our tax dollars. This show investigates on a real urban planning/public works/public finance problem in how Colorado Springs chooses to pay for street lights (Act Three).
- Why bikeshare is amazing and has taken off like gangbusters in D.C. (h/t Adam Garcia): http://www.planetizen.com/node/60172
- A big beautiful book of maps that tell stories about place (forward by Ira Glass!): http://www.sigliopress.com/books/atlas.htm
- Folding helmets are coming to France (h/t Andrew Roberts): http://www.ulule.com/overade/