Vacant Lots: Crowd-Sourcing The Sustainable Neighborhood

Author: Nino Marchetti

What happens when you get everyday people thinking about the challenges that have occupied city planners for years — and give them the tools to do something about it? The City 2.0 project recently caught our attention for doing just that, and now we’ve seen nonprofits like the Network Center for Community Change in Kentucky and People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) in New York using this people-powered approach to tackle a key issue in creating sustainable, livable neighborhoods: vacant buildings and lots.

Network Center for Community Change, a community action group based in Louisville, has been mapping neighborhoods to identify vacant lots and houses that need renovation, along with more stable pieces of property. In so doing, it aims to help the community make decisions that better reflect local conditions and needs. Once these “opportunities for improvement” have been established, the group mobilizes residents and other stakeholders to work with municipal authorities in developing strategic redevelopment projects that will boost local property values, increase quality of life in the neighborhood, and/or create jobs.

Read the full article at


Commuters Pedal to Work on Their Very Own Superhighway

Author: Sally McGrane

Picture 11 miles of smoothly paved bike path meandering through the countryside. Largely uninterrupted by roads or intersections, it passes fields, backyards, chirping birds, a lake, some ducks and, at every mile, an air pump.

For some Danes, this is the morning commute.

Susan Nielsen, a 59-year-old schoolteacher, was one of a handful of people taking advantage of Denmark’s first “superhighway” for bicycles on a recent morning, about halfway between Copenhagen and Albertslund, a suburb, which is the highway’s endpoint. “I’m very glad because of the better pavement,” said Ms. Nielsen, who wore a rain jacket and carried a pair of pants in a backpack to put on after her 40-minute commute.

The cycle superhighway, which opened in April, is the first of 26 routes scheduled to be built to encourage more people to commute to and from Copenhagen by bicycle. More bike path than the Interstate its name suggests, it is the brainchild of city planners who were looking for ways to increase bicycle use in a place where half of the residents already bike to work or to school every day.

“We are very good, but we want to be better,” said Brian Hansen, the head of Copenhagen’s traffic planning section.

Read the full article at


The Hubbub Around Huburbs

Author: Jake Tobin Garrett

They didn’t really look like much. The four Google Earth images projected up onto the screen showed low-density, sprawling suburbanism in all its horizontal glory. But they also represented four locations out of 51 that Metrolinx has designated to become “mobility hubs” in The Big Move, the agency’s ambitious transit plan for the GTA.

Richard Sommer, dean of the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, was showing the images to introduce Huburbs, a symposium on mobility hubs put on by the school and sponsored by Metrolinx this past weekend. “The challenge,” he said, motioning to the screen, “is to take these strange Petri dishes and turn them into a live organism.” (For those of you who haven’t heard Richard Sommer speak before, the experience is like having a vial of masculinity poured directly into your ear. His voice is deep and rich, the kind of voice that makes you want to grow a beard and then maybe build something. But alas, he was not at the forefront of this symposium and merely there to frame the day’s discussion.)

For the next eight hours, we were going to hear international and Canadian speakers discuss the economics, politics, and design involved in creating efficient, sustainable mobility hubs, while also creating vibrant places of community.

But we can already here you asking: what is a mobility hub and, more importantly, what is a huburb?

Read the full article at


The Evolving Urban Form: Mumbai

Author: Wendell Cox

The continuing dispersion of international metropolitan areas is illustrated by recently released 2011 Census of India preliminary data for the Mumbai “larger” metropolitan area. The historical core, the “island” district of Mumbai (Inner Mumbai) lost population between 2001 and 2011, while all growth was in suburban areas outside the historic core. Indeed, since 1981, Inner Mumbai lost 140,000 residents, while suburban areas gained 13.2 million.

The larger metropolitan area is defined by district boundaries, the census division level below that of the state. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority has a more “tight” definition, composed of smaller administrative units (municipalities), however that data is not yet available on the internet (Note). The larger metropolitan area includes four districts, two of which compose the city of Mumbai, Inner Mumbai (the historic core), and Outer Mumbai. The larger metropolitan area also includes the district of Thane, which is to the east and north of Mumbai and the district of Raigarh, which is to the south of Mumbai. The overwhelming majority of growth outside the city of Mumbai has been in Thane, which is accessible by land and bridge to Mumbai. Raigarh is less accessible from Mumbai and requires travel through Thane to reach.

Read the full article at


City’s design, transit system can ease gas costs

Author: Larry Copeland

Some cities in the USA are better positioned to deal with rising gas prices than others because of their design and transit systems, according to a national non-profit group that works to build stronger cities.

The key factor: whether residents have to drive everywhere, or have other options.

That’s according to CEOs for Cities, a Chicago-based network of civic, business, academic and philanthropic leaders seeking to build and sustain stronger cities for the future. Researchers analyzed federal government data on vehicle miles traveled in 51 metropolitan areas that have at least 1 million residents.

It’s a timely analysis: Gas prices have eased a bit in the past few days — to a national average of $3.60 for a gallon of regular unleaded Monday — but they are still 28% higher than a year ago.

Read the full article at


The world’s top 10 walking cities

A great city is a great walking city. So which is the greatest of them all? Travel book publisher Lonely Planet just surveyed its readers and asked them to pick the best walking cities in the world from a list of 186. Take a stroll through the top 10, counting down to the city that readers rated No. 1, and see if your favorite made the cut.

View the results at