Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bike Boxes in Action

Boston has bike boxes!

These boxes allow cyclists to pass up and get in from of automobiles when stopped at intersections.  It helps prevent cars from making turns unaware a cyclist is to the side and clipping them.  Cyclists pull to the front of the line of stopped cars so they are visible and get a head start once the light becomes green.  They also allow cyclists to make turns easier without having to maneuver across traffic lanes.  They pull into the box and move across in front of stopped vehicles to make a safer turn.

The picture is from Comm Ave in the Back Bay part of Boston near where the APA Conference was being held last weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Planners take Boston

I returned yesterday from the American Planning Association National Planning Conference in Boston.  It was a great time hanging out with fellow students and professionals learning about what is going on in planning.  My tweets cover some of the highlights, but a rundown of the sessions I went to are as follows:

  • "City Planning 360: GIS for Intelligent Cities" showed some of the power of the new ArcGIS 10 platform.
  • Adapting and using Dedicated Port Areas
  • An opening keynote from Michael J. Sandel
  • How to evaluate "authentic" features of suburbs and how they can be used during suburban retrofits
  • Turning a small town train station into a transit village
  • "LEED Guidance for Neighborhood Development" where speakers called out Grand Rapids as an excellent example and case study for writing 'green' standards into a comprehensive plan.
  • Green preservation and economic growth in the North Loop area of Minneapolis
  • Transportation and climate change
  • Using social media as a means of public participation
  • Regional food systems planning
  • "Leveraging the Value of Older Buildings"
I can talk in greater detail in person.

I also went to a Boston Red Sox game against the Tampa Bay Rays, which was pretty cool.  Fenway Park was neat and being able to sit up on the green monster because the game turned into a 16-5 blowout by the Rays was awesome.

Fenway Park
From the Green Monster

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Faux Urbanism?

New Urbanist principles are great things, but what happens when you build away from normal areas and start anew?  Places like Celebration, Florida are knocked because they are built in places without previous development and are essentially suburbs.  I guess a New Urbanist suburb is better than a regular suburb, but it's something to think about.  When I was in Boulder, Colorado for spring break I ventured to North Boulder.  North Boulder is a rapidly developing part of town, and there is quite the New Urbanist style to it.  I really like the architecture and it's not as far away as normal suburbs, but the public space seemed unused and more of a ruse than anything.  It is also expensive.  A 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath condo was for sale and advertised at $174,338 - a lot for something similarly sized to an apartment I lived in for a couple years.  Then again, it's Boulder.  More integration with downtown is probably needed, but I could see myself living here if the opportunity presented itself.  What do you think?
Unique Architectural Styling
Homes oriented to shared space.
Garages and parking behind the buildings.
Eyes on the street.
Looking toward the Flatirons.
Barren Public Space.