29/1/2016 - 16 Ideas Have Raised $3 Billion-Plus for Affordable Housing in U.S. Cities
29/1/2016 - GE’s move to Boston marks back-to-city trend
28/1/2016 - Germany’s First Bike Superhighway Rolls Out
28/1/2016 - Why our future depends on cities
28/1/2016 - Solar Jobs Are Outpacing the U.S. Economy By a Longshot
27/1/2016 - Join CEMR in Nicosia for Europe’s major gathering of towns and regions
27/1/2016 - Why Cities Must Become Smarter, Now
27/1/2016 - Green designs should apply to slum-dwellings
26/1/2016 - Madrid to spend €40 m on cycle lanes in 2016
26/1/2016 - Impacts of self driving cars on bicycle planning
26/1/2016 - Urban Innovative Actions: First Call for Proposals Open
25/1/2016 - Air pollution: a dark cloud of filth poisons the world’s cities
25/1/2016 - Urban studies program launches Human Cities Initiative
25/1/2016 - Call for Papers - European Transport Conference
24/1/2016 - Hidalgo’s ‘radical’ vision for a car-free Paris
24/1/2016 - New Software Makes Transit Planning More Like Video Gaming
23/1/2016 - Gothenburg’s entrepreneurial hub
23/1/2016 - Egypt Takes Charge of Building New Capital Outside of Cairo
22/1/2016 - Polis road safety and ITS/traffic management meetings
22/1/2016 - Walkable winter cities
22/1/2016 - Involving citizens for energy-efficient schools
21/1/2016 - Minimise barriers to develop car-sharing in emerging markets – new report
21/1/2016 - India to require $2.5 trillion for actions on climate change
21/1/2016 - Season 3 of the Global Urban Lectures launched
20/1/2016 - New Public Squares Reveal Placemaking Design Trends
20/1/2016 - With MetroLab, urban agglomerations from developed and developing countries tackle challenges together
20/1/2016 - Peterborough: a City Shaping Its Own DNA
19/1/2016 - Habitat III: The New Urban Agenda
19/1/2016 - Is the gentrification of cities inevitable – and inevitably bad?
19/1/2016 - You Can't Achieve Vision Zero If Pedestrians Don't Come First
18/1/2016 - Call for data on local employment in the cycling sector in European cities and regions
18/1/2016 - Zhenjiang is trailblazer among China’s carbon-cutting cities
17/1/2016 - Civic Labs: Improving Public Services From the Bottom Up
16/1/2016 - How will we keep track of city actions under the New Urban Agenda?
16/1/2016 - Green trend thats’s here to stay: vertical gardening
15/1/2016 - Urbanization reviews: connecting the dots between urban geography and economic development
15/1/2016 - What Makes a Neighborhood Successful? City Expert Weighs In
14/1/2016 - 2015 Was a Year for Ambitious City Park Design
14/1/2016 - New Europe City Makers Pre-Summit
14/1/2016 - Milan wins Access City Award 2016
13/1/2016 - Smart City Challenge
13/1/2016 - We have one generation to save our cities, global engineering firm warns
13/1/2016 - Shift2Rail launches first calls for projects worth €170 million
12/1/2016 - London's public bicycle sharing scheme Santander Cycles to be fitted with Blaze Laserlights to improve safety
12/1/2016 - Challenges and opportunities of public space as a generator of growth in African Cities
12/1/2016 - The new science of traffic engineering
11/1/2016 - 10 Tired Traffic Myths That Didn't Get a Rest in 2015
11/1/2016 - Climate change and how it is a health risk to the urban population
11/1/2016 - Landscape of the Year 2015 prize goes to Chinese wetlands park
10/1/2016 - Cairo Declaration on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in the Arab Region Adopted
10/1/2016 - Colwyn, Pennsylvania: The Town That Can't Seem to Govern Itself
10/1/2016 - Workshop for cities to explore cooperative systems
9/1/2016 - Ten global urban narratives that shaped 2015
9/1/2016 - Brussels redevelops ‘dangerous’ avenue to make cycling safer
8/1/2016 - 2016: touchdown for the global agendas in cities and regions
8/1/2016 - Cities Should Stop Electronic Warrantless Surveillance
7/1/2016 - The Politics of Equity: Who owns the city?
7/1/2016 - Climate change impacts will last for decades despite global agreement
7/1/2016 - Dirty city air forces traffic crackdown in Italy
6/1/2016 - A city held hostage: how the LA bomb threat exposed our urban vulnerability
6/1/2016 - The Best and Worst Urban Trends of 2015
6/1/2016 - Mayors Reach Beyond City Borders to Boost Economic Growth
5/1/2016 - Leverage climate finance to finance the sustainable city
5/1/2016 - African Urban Momentum Is an Opportunity for Sustainable Growth
5/1/2016 - How will the cities of the future be lit?
4/1/2016 - Transit-Oriented Development Doesn’t Need Actual Transit
4/1/2016 - Mexican mayor shot dead within hours of taking office
4/1/2016 - A city street is a terrible thing to waste
3/1/2016 - FLOW is calling for Exchange and Follower Cities
3/1/2016 - Strasbourg wins international ‘smart-city’ award
3/1/2016 - A Quick, Clear Explanation for Why Parking Minimums Hurt Cities
2/1/2016 - It’s Not YOUR Data, Didn’t You know?
2/1/2016 - 4 ways cities will dramatically change in the future — and how we can prepare
2/1/2016 - UN-Habitat organizes ‘One UN solutions for cities and climate change’ event at COP21
1/1/2016 - Poly Garden City – Athens micro-CLIMATE City
1/1/2016 - City to City Migration Profiles and Dialogue: a priority for UCLG's political agenda
1/1/2016 - Innovation and impact on welcome policies: the example of Barcelona
1/1/2016 - Migrants cope with city life in fast urbanizing Vietnam
16 Ideas Have Raised $3 Billion-Plus for Affordable Housing in U.S. Cities
A new report from the Urban Land Institute and NeighborWorks America showcases 16 of the best ideas for affordable rentals from around the country. Real estate economics haven’t been sufficient to ensure that the supply meets demand, but to be clear, these clever mechanisms aren’t about charity: According to the report, they have raised more than $3 billion and developed nearly 60,000 housing units, with more on the way. Many are able to offer returns to their investors.
GE’s move to Boston marks back-to-city trend
General Electric, one of the world’s most iconic brands, has selected Boston for its new global headquarters. Justin Fox reports for Bloomberg View that the choice reflects a wider trend in which companies are abandoning suburbs for cities. An exodus to office parks began in the 1960s is now reversing, the article says.
GE emphasizes in its announcement that it was attracted by Boston’s cluster of world-renowned colleges and universities and the area’s tech savvy workforce. The new headquarters will be located in Boston’s Seaport District. According to the Boston Globe, GE is the largest company ever to move to Boston.
Germany’s First Bike Superhighway Rolls Out
An idea that’s already taken root in the Netherlands and Denmark has spread to Germany’s industrial heartland.
According to an AFP report on Phys.org, officials in Germany’s Ruhr Valley opened at the end of 2015 the first 5 km (3.1 miles) of a planned 100-km (62-mile) bicycle superhighway connecting 10 cities and four universities in the struggling industrial region.
Why our future depends on cities
It is hard to know with certainty where and why cities will falter and fail in the 21st century. It is even more difficult to predict which cities are going to thrive and survive. What is more certain is that unprecedented urbanization will play a defining role in their success or failure. To put it in crude terms: the fight for future security and development will be won or lost in the metropole.
Solar Jobs Are Outpacing the U.S. Economy By a Longshot
In his 2016 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama made the case that job growth is once more on the rise. Nowhere is that more true than in the domestic solar energy industry, which grew nearly 12 times faster than the overall economy in 2015.
The solar industry expanded 20 percent over the previous year to employ a total of 209,000 people, according to a detailed census of solar jobs released this week by The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit. Those new solar opportunities amounted to a whopping 1.2 percent of all new jobs added to the U.S. economy last year.
Join CEMR in Nicosia for Europe’s major gathering of towns and regions
Migration, territorial reforms, climate change, local finances: the challenges that European cities, towns and regions face today are many. At the same time, in this rapidly evolving society, mayors and local elected representatives must anticipate the changes and be prepared for them. But are they ready for tomorrow?
To support them in this endeavour we, at CEMR invite you to join hundreds of local and regional elected representatives from across the continent and beyond, at the occasion of our Congress in Nicosia, Cyprus.
The Congress to take place from 20 to 22 April 2016 will be held under the motto “Tomorrow starts today! A Local & Regional Vision of Europe 2030”. With this topic, we want you to meet, learn and get inspired from your peers but also to discuss with representatives of European institutions some of the most pressing challenges for the years to come.
Why Cities Must Become Smarter, Now
Sufficient fresh water; universal access to cleaner energy; the ability to travel efficiently from one point to another; a sense of safety and security: These are the kinds of promises modern cities must fulfill if they are to stay competitive and provide a decent quality of life to their citizens.
By 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. The challenge will be to supply these populations with basic resources like safe food, clean water and sufficient energy, while also ensuring overall economic, social and environmental sustainability. Already today, cities consume around 70 percent of all energy produced globally, while generating 70 percent of world GDP.
Green designs should apply to slum-dwellings
Over the years, there has not been a shortage of high sounding statements, extolling the virtues of green designs. Global bodies such as the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UN-Habitat have been in the forefront in urging developers to consider incorporating as much of the green aspects as possible during the design phase of projects. Despite the many policy statements from both the public and private sector, green technology has remained largely an issue of fund availability rather than the accruing, long-term benefits that come with sustainable architecture.
Madrid to spend €40 m on cycle lanes in 2016
Madrid is planning a major increase in spending on cycling infrastructure and the city's bicycle-sharing network BiciMAD (link is external) in the coming year.
The city council had originally planned to spend €2 m on cycling in 2016, but will now spend € 40 m on 33 new cycling routes on streets or in public places and parks.
Much of the funding will come from a national government fund for sustainable investments. A condition for the funding is that it must be spent by the end of 2016, meaning deadlines will be tight.
Impacts of self driving cars on bicycle planning
There has been a lot of talk recently on the planning impacts of self driving cars, or autonomous vehicles as some call them. There is a recent CBC piece which summarizes many of the issues.
Although there are many planning issues surrounding self driving cars, for a moment I want to focus on bicycle planning. Here in Vancouver, creating cycle routes ‘for all ages and abilities’ has become a focus for Council. In order to do this, the focus has been on the creation of physically separated bike lanes. The design is intended to protect cyclists from the physical danger of vehicles. Or rather, the danger of people driving cars who are not paying as much attention as they should.
Urban Innovative Actions: First Call for Proposals Open
Urban Innovative Actions is a new initiative by the European Commission that provides funding to cities throughout Europe to test new and unproven solutions to address urban challenges.
The initiative has a budget of EUR 372 million at its disposal, which come from the European Regional Development Fund.
Air pollution: a dark cloud of filth poisons the world’s cities
During these cold winter days, Anumita Choudhury dare not leave her small second-floor apartment in Delhi’s northern suburbs. Elderly now, she has developed asthma. The last time she ventured into the streets of the world’s second most populous city she began gasping for breath and had to be helped home by her neighbours.
The story is the same in many of the world’s great cities. From Kabul in Afghanistan to Hong Kong and Shijiazhuang in China, and from Lima to São Paulo in Latin America, people are increasingly suffering in severe toxic smogs – leaving hospitals and health clinics flooded with people with respiratory and heart problems.
Urban studies program launches Human Cities Initiative
In December, Stanford’s urban studies program launched the Human Cities Initiative to promote urban development that prioritizes the quality of life for city inhabitants.
The initiative will encompass existing curriculum as well as future events that will emphasize a human-centered approach to urbanization. A daylong Expo on Dec. 4 kicked off the Human Cities Initiative with presentations of student projects and “lightning chats” with local nonprofit leaders.
Call for Papers - European Transport Conference
Deadline 08 February 2016
Following three very successful years in Frankfurt, the 44th European Transport Conference will be held in Barcelona, at the Casa Convalescència, from 5 – 7 October 2016. ETC is the annual conference of the Association for European Transport. We are now calling for abstracts.
Hidalgo’s ‘radical’ vision for a car-free Paris
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is not satisfied with limits on cars. In her utopian vision for the City of Light, she’d ban them. The Star’s Christopher Hume reports that Hidalgo views congestion as a critical public health issue.
“I would like to give Parisians back the space that cars have taken from them,” Hidalgo tells the Toronto-based newspaper. “Reconquering the city involves reorienting our actions around nature and human beings,” she says.
Hidalgo is chipping away at her city’s automobile dependency. The mayor plans to ban diesel by 2020 and reduce parking spaces by 55,000 per year, the article says. She’s also spearheading an effort to make the Right Bank of the Seine pedestrian-friendly after successfully adding walking paths along the Left Bank of the river.
New Software Makes Transit Planning More Like Video Gaming
The technology could help agencies make bus and train routes more efficient and spur more public debate.
It may seem strange, but sometimes transit planners wish the software they use to plan bus routes worked a little more like video games. That may be starting to happen.
Planning transit lines in video games like SimCity or Mini Metro is a cinch. You can easily see where there's demand for new service, whom it will serve and how much it will cost. If you mess up, it’s pretty easy to start over again.
Planning real-life transit routes, in contrast, has nothing like that point-and-click simplicity. In some cases, it can take weeks to figure out the consequences of moving a bus route over by just a few blocks.
Gothenburg’s entrepreneurial hub
Gothenburg’s ‘Entrepreneurial West Hisingen’ programme is supporting employability among residents in a challenging city district.
The district of West Hisingen in Gothenburg is divided distinctly into two parts: a mainly native Swedish population with a strong business tradition inhabits one side, while the other is a rapidly growing community of immigrants, characterised by low levels of education and employment. The city developed the Entrepreneurial West Hisingen programme as a means of breaking the cycle of disengagement and poverty in this neighbourhood, and to help citizens acquire the skills and knowledge for employability.
The programme has three strands: stimulating start-ups, increasing the survival rate and growth of existing businesses, and embedding entrepreneurship education into schools. The aim was to create a new entrepreneurial identity for the district, with quality job opportunities and a long term interest in entrepreneurship among young people.
Egypt Takes Charge of Building New Capital Outside of Cairo
Egypt's cash-strapped government says it has taken charge of plans to build a new capital after failing to close a deal with a UAE investor meant to lead the project some have compared in its ambition to the ancient pyramids.
Built to escape Cairo's overcrowding and pollution, the new administrative capital was expected to cost a total $300 billion and feature an airport larger than London's Heathrow and a new central business district featuring a cluster of high-rises.
The mega-project was unveiled in March, 2015 at the Sharm al-Sheikh economic summit, where President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged foreign investors to help Egypt recover from turmoil unleashed after the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak
Polis road safety and ITS/traffic management meetings
Save the date: Transport for London will host Polis Working Group meetings on road safety and on TE&M on 2 and 4 March 2016 respectively. In between, on 3 March, workshops of the VRUITS, CIMEC and COCECS projects will be held.
Walkable winter cities
Coming in from my slow run on this morning’s packed snow, I am grateful again for my old, walkable neighbourhood that tempts me out of doors, even in the cold weather. And that’s saying a lot, since I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, one of the three coldest cities on earth of a population of 600,000 or higher.
Walkability mitigates the most extreme climates by providing interesting places to warm up, linger, and connect. And plenty of options about how and where to turn around and circle back.
Involving citizens for energy-efficient schools
In the Spanish city of Osona, the Desendolla’t project encourages efficient energy management in schools through ICT technology and education. It brings together five target groups: students, teachers, caretakers, cleaning teams, and town council staff.
Desendolla’t was launched in 2012, when a benchmark of the energy cost of public schools against private ones carried out by the Local Energy Agency revealed that public schools were lagging far behind. The objective of the project is to improve energy efficiency of public schools buildings.
Minimise barriers to develop car-sharing in emerging markets – new report
Institutional support and an enabling environment are crucial if emerging cities are to successfully establish car-sharing, a global sustainability research organisation has said.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) reviewed existing literature and interviewed mobility experts and car-sharing operators to develop an initial understanding of the feasibility of car-sharing in developing cities.
In the first comprehensive study of its kind, the WRI found that these cities face serious obstacles, such as the aspiration of the middle-class to own a car, acute congestion and a lack of available or adequately regulated parking.
India to require $2.5 trillion for actions on climate change
India’s climate change actions will require around $2.5 trillion in the next 15 years by using domestic resources and foreign financial commitments, said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
The Minister added, India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), submitted to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) includes reducing emission intensity of Gross Domestic Product by 33.35 % by 2030 from 2005.
Season 3 of the Global Urban Lectures launched
The Global Urban Lecture Series is an initiative by UN-Habitat’s partnership with universities worldwide – UNI – to bring the knowledge and experiences of urban experts associated with the agency’s work to a wide audience. The series reaches not only the general public but also the 185 partner universities of UNI, and is currently being used both for personal further education purposes and professional training.
The series is free and consists of 15-minute lectures on urban topics related to the focus areas of UN-Habitat. Besides the video, each lecture includes a synopsis, a biography of the speaker, an MP3 file and links to additional reading material for further study. By the end of the second season, the Global Urban Lectures had reached 50,000 views, occupied 15 out of the top 20 spots on the UN-Habitat video list, and had been independently featured as ‘one of the best MOOCs on cities’, making it one of UN-Habitat’s most successful outreach initiatives.
New Public Squares Reveal Placemaking Design Trends
The night Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I went down to Union Square. I had been in a Manhattan apartment, jumping up and down and drinking champagne with lots of people. Once his victory was imminent, we all, without comment, as though it were the most natural thing in the world, went down to the street and walked the 10 blocks to Union Square. We knew other New Yorkers would be there, and they were, by the thousands, thronged under an American flag that covered the whole block.
In that moment, Union Square was doing what public squares do best: providing a stage where citizens could engage with their civic identity. A pocket park couldn’t do it. A pop-up park couldn’t do it. Even the rolling greens of Central Park seem ill-fitted to the job. In the (paraphrased) words of Charles Moore, when the revolution came, we knew exactly where to go.
As cities across the U.S. continue to rise in popularity, public squares are receiving major facelifts that reflect some of the biggest trends in placemaking today.
With MetroLab, urban agglomerations from developed and developing countries tackle challenges together
MetroLab provides a platform for cities from all over the world to share knowledge about urban management and development. The initiative started about 3 years ago, based on two simple premises: in spite of income differences, urban agglomerations from developed and developing countries face many similar challenges and have a lot to learn from each other; second, since urban growth typically spreads beyond one single municipality, cities need to "think outside their boundaries" and address challenges at the metropolitan level.
Peterborough: a City Shaping Its Own DNA
Peterborough may not be the first city that pops to mind when one thinks of smart. The press tends to play up the big names like London, Paris and New York. But the smartest cities around the world are sometimes below the radar, transforming their economies with little fanfare.
Peterborough’s profile is rising, however. Last November, the city of 188,000 won the 2015 World Smart City Award. On hearing the announcement at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Cecile Faraud, Peterborough’s Circular Economy lead, literally jumped in the air. When her feet touched the ground again, we had a chance to talk to her.
Habitat III: The New Urban Agenda
Throughout modern history, urbanization has been a major driver of development and poverty reduction. Governments can respond to this key development opportunity through Habitat III by promoting a new model of urban development that is able to integrate all facets of sustainable development to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity. It is time to think urban: how to mobilise the global community and focus all levels of human settlements, including small rural communities, villages, market towns, intermediate cities and metropolises for demographic and economic growth. Habitat III can help systematise the alignment between cities and towns and national planning objectives in their role as drivers of national economic and social development.
Is the gentrification of cities inevitable – and inevitably bad?
Since the term was first coined in 1960s London, gentrification has come to be regarded like a law of nature or scientific fact – but now some communities are finding ways to challenge the familiar stereotypes
In the 1980s, long before his thoughts turned to the US presidency, Bernie Sanders – then mayor of Burlington, Vermont – took it upon himself to try to decelerate the development of the Lake Champlain waterfront. Rejecting a plan to turn it into a series of luxury condominiums, Sanders also worked to preserve public housing by passing ordinances that made it harder for developers to evict tenants, and created a community land trust to allow residents to purchase their units. In addition, he supported the local Onion River Collaborative market (now City Market), instead of accepting a proposal for a large, unpopular supermarket in the centre of town.
You Can't Achieve Vision Zero If Pedestrians Don't Come First
In December, Washington, D.C., became the latest American city to release a Vision Zero policy aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities. It’s an impressive action plan that says the right things about designing safer streets, implementing new regulations, and codifying laws that prioritize “the most vulnerable travelers”—especially pedestrians. The District already does fairly well, with just 26 deaths in 2015, and its goal of zero by 2024 seems totally within reach.
This week, at a conference of transportation professionals, Jonathan M. Rogers of the District DOT, described one of the plan’s most promising elements: the use of data to predict trouble spots. In the past, he explained, officials relied on historical crash statistics to locate hazardous intersections—a reactive approach that essentially waits for bad things to happen. Vision Zero will use a “predictive risk model” that pushes the city to act before it’s too late.
Call for data on local employment in the cycling sector in European cities and regions
The World Health Organisation has launched a call for data inviting European cities, town and regions to collect local information on the job creation potential of cycling at the local level, and help understand how cycling is contributing to green growth in the Union.
Zhenjiang is trailblazer among China’s carbon-cutting cities
Zhenjiang, China relies on an unorthodox strategy to reduce fossil-fuel emissions. Ma Tianjie and Wang Yamin report for Chinadialogue that the city is shifting from energy-intensive industries to a service-sector based economy to reduce its carbon footprint.
This transition allows Zhenjiang, with a population of 3 million, to promote economic growth while also lowering emissions, the article says. To monitor progress, the city in eastern China harnesses data to track the emissions of companies, business sectors and neighborhoods.
By contrast, less industrialized cities must meet their emissions targets through improved energy-efficiency standards, tighter environmental controls and lower auto emissions, the article says.
Civic Labs: Improving Public Services From the Bottom Up
Innovation platforms are springing up all over, engaging citizens in the process. Government's challenge is to manage and nurture them.
There is a wave of new innovation at the local level of government, and much of it is coming not from government but from citizens. This is happening through a rapidly proliferating ecosystem of civic innovation labs, platforms that connect citizens with each other and with government to share ideas, define community problems and find solutions. For cities, the challenge will be to learn from, adapt to and manage these new pathways to more effective government.
The central premise of civic innovation labs is that they are "bottom-up" problem-solving tools. Their value is in the fact that they live outside of the structured, rule-bound worlds of government and nonprofits. Their freedom from bureaucratic constraints on creativity is likely to be a central source of innovation.
How will we keep track of city actions under the New Urban Agenda?
The Paris climate accord is notable for its robust framework on monitoring and evaluation. Habitat III will need something similar — and the groundwork already exists for an exciting conversation on this issue. The precedent-shattering agreement of 196 nation states in Paris to slow global climate change to an average rise of 2 degrees Celsius, or even less, carries immense positive promise for humankind.
But for urbanists, the accord also raises a critical question: Can — and will — the Habitat III conference scheduled for Quito, Ecuador, next October, deliver a comparable vision and set of targets for the world’s cities in the decades ahead? And, perhaps as importantly, will there be a way to keep score on these?
Green trend thats’s here to stay: vertical gardening
Historically gardens tend to be horizontal or, at best, undulating. But nowadays, not only for esthetical reasons but also because of the widespread wish to create a green and healthy urban environment, home owners and local authorities sometimes see opportunities for vertical gardens. A spectacular example of this trend can be found in Paris, where the Musée du Quai Branly shows a beautiful green facade. In Vancouver, we saw a ‘living wall’ at the city aquarium.
For readers of this newsletter the fact that green cities provide us with a cleaner, healthier environment is not new. Still, our attention is drawn to a recent study, showing that green walls can potentially reduce air pollution in “street canyons,” corridors between tall buildings. A green wall in a street canyon trapped or absorbed large amounts of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter—both pollutants harmful to people.
Urbanization reviews: connecting the dots between urban geography and economic development
Over the last 5 years, the World Bank has conducted a number of in-depth, systematic analyses to zero in on the specifics of urbanization in its client countries. These so-called “Urbanization Reviews” pay special attention to the linkages between urban geography and economy: Where do people live within cities? Where are the jobs? How do residents move around cities? How do they move between cities? How does this affect cities’ economy as well as their country’s overall development?
What Makes a Neighborhood Successful? City Expert Weighs In
With roles both Chicago and Washington, D.C., government that revolved around urban design, planning, and transportation, and a tenure at Zipcar helping the car-sharing service get off the ground,Gabe Klein has firsthand experience seeing how new forces, from technology to transportation, have helped cities change and evolve over the last decade. But in his new book Start-Up City, Klein offers a formula for improving cities that mixes both results-oriented, high-tech entrepreneurship with an old-fashioned focus on walkable urban living. “It’s pretty simple, give people what they want within a quick walk,” he says.
As progressive views of the city as an ecosystem take hold, Klein advocates that local governments welcome technology and innovation, while welcoming neighborhood development and public-private partnerships. In the midst of the Curbed Cup competition, where readers vote for their favorite parts of their city, Curbed spoke to Klein, who lives in D.C., about important factors in the future success of city neighborhoods.
2015 Was a Year for Ambitious City Park Design
From Houston to Beirut, 2015 was a big year for parks. They were crowdfunded and data-mined, envisioned as strange, subterranean spaces, and designed to bolster public health. Of all the many innovative designs, a few have even opened their gates.
Here are some of the most ambitious public spaces of 2015. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and many a soccer field or downtown plaza will undoubtedly be absent. But these are the big picture parks, marking a political step forward in Beirut, bringing some much-needed play space to underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods, and signaling a shift toward walkability in two car-centric Texas cities.
New Europe City Makers Pre-Summit
Save the date! Two days of working together in expert meetings (and more) relating to City Making themes.
On February 4 and 5, the Dutch and international network of City Makers from The Netherlands and Europe will meet and exchange their stories and ideas. The New Europe City Makers Pre-summit will be another step toward shaping the City Makers Agenda.
Milan wins Access City Award 2016
Milan has won an award recognising its efforts towards making it more accessible for people with disabilities.
The Italian city won the European Union’s 2016 Access City Award. The award is one of the actions adopted from the EU disability strategy which aims to make Europe barrier-free.
Smart City Challenge
Our Beyond Traffic study indicates that many communities --particularly mid-sized cities-- will experience rapid population increases and rapidly growing demands on their transportation infrastructure in the next few decades. DOT's Smart City Challenge is designed to help cities begin to address the challenges these trends present.
To show what is possible when communities use technology to connect transportation assets into an interactive network, the Smart City Challenge will concentrate federal resources into one medium-sized city, selected through a nationwide competition. Funding of up to $40 million in funding will go to one mid-sized city that puts forward bold, data-driven ideas to improve lives by making transportation safer, easier, and more reliable.
We have one generation to save our cities, global engineering firm warns
Cities around the world have only one generation to meet the twin challenges of climate change and a rapidly growing urban population, the head of a global engineering firm has warned.
Gregory Hodkinson, chairman of the Arup group, said that with more than half the world’s population already living in cities, and the proportion set to rise to 70% by 2050, city leaders need to take urgent action.
Shift2Rail launches first calls for projects worth €170 million
Shift2Rail, the Joint Undertaking backed by the European Commission and the rail industry, has published its first calls for proposals, endowed with €170 million to support innovation in railways.
The Commission will contribute €90 million, with the other €80 million being brought by the members of Shift2Rail.
In order to be funded, projects will have to demonstrate their ability to increase the quality, reliability and punctuality of rail services while cutting its costs and facilitating cross-border travel.
London's public bicycle sharing scheme Santander Cycles to be fitted with Blaze Laserlights to improve safety
Santander brings 'Light To The Dark Side' with the installation of Laserlights following a successful trial with 90% of funding for the safety lights provided by Santander UK.
Challenges and opportunities of public space as a generator of growth in African Cities
A peer learning exchange on public space in the African context took place from 7-9 December 2015 in Blantyre, Malawi. The event was hosted by the city of Blantyre, and co-organized by the UCLG Committee on Urban Strategic Planning, the eThekwini Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE), UN-Habitat and the International Union of Architects (UIA).
The new science of traffic engineering
If transportation officials embrace a new approach backed by science, safe and effective mobility no longer need conflict with the multidimensional role of streets as public spaces and with people’s varied modes of travel.
10 Tired Traffic Myths That Didn't Get a Rest in 2015
The common traffic misperception I submitted for the CityLab staff post on stubborn myths we’d like to retire was just one of many encountered, yet again, during 2015. Here’s a full list for your reading-while-not-driving pleasure. Safe travels this New Year’s, and all those to come.
Climate change and how it is a health risk to the urban population
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), majority of the human population in the world live in urban areas. In 2014, the urban population accounted for 54% of the total global population which is equivalent to 3.96 Billion and it is expected to grow by an average of 1.63% per year between now and 2030.
Climate change poses new multiple challenges to the urban setting and the greatest major concern to humanity being the health risks from the impacts of climate change. And these include flooding, scarcity of water, heat stress and lack of food among others. Majority of these adverse climate change effects are being experienced by the poor and the low income communities who have poor disaster preparedness capability and response. Developing countries are the most vulnerable because of low capacity to handle the disaster risk issues and poor disaster preparedness capabilities.
Landscape of the Year 2015 prize goes to Chinese wetlands park
Designed by Chinese landscape firm Turenscape, the 26-hectare Yanweizhou Park in Jinhua features flood-resistant topography, natural wildlife habitats, and a network of meandering pathways and bridges. The aim of the project was to preserve the riparian landscape, but also to create a public attraction around the city’s opera house.
Cairo Declaration on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in the Arab Region Adopted
The Cairo Declaration on Housing, and Sustainable Urban Development in the Arab region was adopted on the last day of the first Arab Ministerial Forum for Housing and Urban Development.
For three days, housing and sustainable urban development issues have been debated at the Arab Ministerial Forum for Housing and Urban Development (AMFHUD). The forum was organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, the League of Arab States and UN-Habitat. It attracted participation by 15 high level ministerial delegations, representatives of national and regional organisations, local government, academia, private sector and civil society.
Colwyn, Pennsylvania: The Town That Can't Seem to Govern Itself
Colwyn, Pa., is a perfect example of what happens when virtually every aspect of local government breaks down.
Not many people have heard of Colwyn, Pa. It’s a tiny Philadelphia suburb of about 2,500 people that covers just 0.3 square miles. But this spring, it gained notoriety when it was declared “financially distressed” by the state. Local Philadelphia stations had already been airing chaotic council meetings, complete with screaming matches, swearing, and even occasionally pushing and shoving. But the declaration brought even more attention. One TV station created a recurring segment called “Chaos in Colwyn” to cover the many resignations, firings and scandals that are ongoing. All this news coverage, along with state audits, have revealed just how poorly managed, and possibly corrupt, Colwyn is.
Workshop for cities to explore cooperative systems
During the first quarter of 2016, the four city partners of CIMEC (Kassel/DE, Bilabo/ES, Trondheim/NO and Reading/UK) will organise local workshops and regional/national workshops to promote discussion and debate about cooperative systems
Ten global urban narratives that shaped 2015
For mayors, city leaders and urban activists around the globe, 2015 was an important and busy year. A whirlwind of international meetings set the stage for next year’s Habitat III conference, the UN’s once-every-20-years summit on the future of cities. Meanwhile, cities continued to operate as prime global laboratories for social, economic and technological innovation.
Brussels redevelops ‘dangerous’ avenue to make cycling safer
Brussels’ public transport company, STIB, and municipal mobility consultants, Bruxelles Mobilité, are to begin redeveloping a city-centre avenue to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
A stretch of Avenue Fonsny to Gare du Midi will undergo a reconstruction following its identification as one of the most dangerous driving areas in the Beligian capital.
A recent report showed that the Avenue Fonsny-Rue de Russie intersection caused one death, seven serious injuries and 68 minor injuries over the course of the four-year research.
2016: touchdown for the global agendas in cities and regions
In our cities and regions, mayors and governors attend to the daily agendas of citizens in their territories. National governments direct three or four year macro policies and international organizations discuss global agendas in cycles of 15-20 years.
Cities Should Stop Electronic Warrantless Surveillance
Today, in the name of public safety, state, national, and local government agencies are piling up advanced technologies to monitor people, with little regard for the basic principles of privacy. Cities should be protecting their citizens’ rights instead of ignoring them.
In 1972, the US Supreme Court ruled that an individual’s right to privacy could only be breached by a court order, not at the discretion of law enforcement agencies. The majority in the case wrote: “The Fourth Amendment contemplates a prior judicial judgment, not the risk that executive discretion may be reasonably exercised.”
A lot has happened in the 40-plus years since that decision.
The Politics of Equity: Who owns the city?
Leading urban sociologist Saskia Sassen – who identified the global cities dynamic – argued that new and tacit patterns of ownership are having a negative impact on the ‘cityness’, vibrancy and accessibility of urban systems by cutting off parts of the city from public use. Could this form of investment and speculation in cities and buildings be causing de-urbanisation? Watch the full lecture for LSE Cities Urban Age below.
Climate change impacts will last for decades despite global agreement
Many of the harmful effects of global warming will continue to influence Earth's atmosphere and oceans for decades despite the landmark climate agreement nearly 200 countries reached in Paris this weekend.
No matter how much emissions are reduced in the years ahead, temperatures will continue to climb, sea levels will continue to rise and oceans will become more acidic around the world over the next several decades, if not centuries, according to analysts.
Dirty city air forces traffic crackdown in Italy
The air in Milan has gotten so dirty that cars and motorcycles will be banned from city streets for several periods next week to reduce emissions, and Rome is also restricting traffic to fight pollution.
An unusually long period of stable weather with little rain or wind has driven air pollution levels to record highs in Italy and prompted emergency measures in a number of cities.
That has happened before, especially in Milan, which is in a valley and is prone to weather conditions that trap air pollution close to the ground. Even so, the city government’s decision on Wednesday to restrict traffic between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for three days next week made headlines and raised health concerns.
In Rome, the special commissioner who is acting as mayor said Thursday that car traffic in the city would once again be limited next Monday and Tuesday in the early morning and late afternoon, based on the last digits of license plate numbers, while single-ride tickets on the city’s transit system would become passes valid all day. The city has resorted to similar steps several times this fall, including Monday and Tuesday this week. Violators face a fine of about $165.
A city held hostage: how the LA bomb threat exposed our urban vulnerability
A handful of shoddily written emails spread shock waves across the US last week. The threats were familiar, warning of gunfire, backpack bombs and mayhem in New York and Los Angeles schools. Sent at 1.20am EST, the messages were routed electronically through Germany, though the author’s whereabouts are still unknown.
The two cities responded in dramatically opposing fashion. The Los Angeles Unified School District shut down more than 1,000 facilities, preventing over 640,000 children from attending class. Officials searched 1,500 buildings and police patrols were expanded throughout the week. The price tag was estimated at $29m, but could cost much more.
The Best and Worst Urban Trends of 2015
In case you couldn’t follow all that happened in 2015, we decided to compile the most influential urban trends of the year and rank them; from the good — a historic climate agreement, the first urbanist pope, ditching the notion that certain ride- and house-share apps offer an altruistic business model, and so on — to the not-so-good — rising rent prices that make affordable housing seem to many like a charming relic of the past. Here, in the form of a slightly judgy list, we offer our take on the stuff that got cities talking in 2015.
Mayors Reach Beyond City Borders to Boost Economic Growth
City leaders in the U.S. this week were talking regional collaboration on economic development — and a few in New York even received $500 million to help in such efforts.
As cities and neighboring towns think more about working together to lure new jobs and new residents, places like Boston and Washington, D.C., are reaching out to suburbs and nearby cities to forge strength in numbers. The hope is that focusing on economic growth for the region — and working together to fix issues like congestion — can generate a bigger bang.
Leverage climate finance to finance the sustainable city
In line with the dynamic started during the World Summit Climate & Territories in Lyon last July, non-state stakeholders mobilized on the issue of financing the fight against climate change have gathered on several occasions during the COP21, in order to strengthen the synergies between on-going initiatives, and bring joint advocacy messages to the attention of negotiators.
African Urban Momentum Is an Opportunity for Sustainable Growth
We are entering a new urban era for Africa, with great potential for the continent. Many countries in Africa are witnessing an unprecedented level of wealth generation -- in parallel with a rapid growth in urban population. Yet in comparison with the rest of the world, Africa has two defining peculiarities: It continues to be the least urbanised continent, at the same time its urbanisation rates are now higher than anywhere else in the world.
The urbanisation of Africa will be one of the most significant economic and social transformations in the next decades, changing the way of life of millions of people.
How will the cities of the future be lit?
The ever-increasing demand for the 24-hour illumination of cities is blighting urban residents with two distinct forms of pollution. Current lighting solutions rely on vast amounts of energy, of course, much of which is not yet generated from renewable resources. According to the International Energy Agency, lighting accounts for almost 20% of global electricity consumption – and thus high levels of carbon emissions.
But there is also an increasing acknowledgement that light itself constitutes a form of pollution – and mounting evidence that our exposure to urban lighting at unnatural times is making us ill. It is reported that the glow of Los Angeles is visible to planes 200 miles away, while in Reykjavik, light pollution is obscuring the northern lights.
Transit-Oriented Development Doesn’t Need Actual Transit
There’s a simple orthodoxy behind most of today’s urban revival efforts.
Urban planners and advocates emphasize the need for homes in dense urban areas near transit, jobs, and basic amenities like grocery stores. This well-established notion of transit-oriented development is intended to wean cities off their dependency on cars and the financial and environmental costs that come with them.
But practically speaking, the “transit” in this context generally does not mean local bus routes. It means more expensive options, like subways, light-rail, or improved bus services with their own lanes.
Mexican mayor shot dead within hours of taking office
Gunmen burst into office of Gisela Mota in Temixco, crime ravaged city 55 miles from Mexico City
Several gunmen burst into the home of a newly elected Mexican mayor and shot her dead on Saturday, just hours into her tenure, police said.
Gisela Mota, 33, a left-of-centre former member of Congress, was gunned down barely 24 hours after taking her oath of office in the city of Temixco, which is about 90 kilometres (55 miles) from the capital Mexico City.
A city street is a terrible thing to waste
To stop the killing of pedestrians on New York City Streets, we have to change the way we build our streets
November 13th—Friday the 13th—marked the 13th day in a row that a pedestrian died on a New York City Street, all killed by cars or buses going too fast. These fatalities occurred because despite all the progress New York has made since Mayor de Blasio and his DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg signed the Vision Zero Pledge in December 2013 (more on this below), most of our city streets are still seen primarily as transportation corridors for cars and trucks.
Until we prioritize pedestrian safety over traffic flow, we will never get to zero deaths for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, or their passengers. But the good news is that when we do make streets that are safe for pedestrians, traffic still flows—and it becomes easy to design streets where people can want to get out of their cars and walk, enjoying public life. Which, after all, is what city life is all about. We don’t have to choose between pedestrian plazas in Times Square and suburban-style arterials. We can have our cake and eat it too.
FLOW is calling for Exchange and Follower Cities
The EU co-funded project FLOW is currently recruiting Exchange and Followers Cities. Cities from across Europe can apply that are interested in modelling practices to maximise the congestion reducing potential of walking and cycling measures.
Strasbourg wins international ‘smart-city’ award
A jury of international experts has awarded the city of Strasbourg for its achievements in the field of innovative eco-mobility services.
Strasbourg won the smart-city category at the EU-China Smart Mobility City Awards, which showcases the most advanced and innovative projects in terms of smart mobility and green transportation in Europe, China and Asia.
The city was recognised chiefly for its efforts to change travel habits and support innovative projects.
A Quick, Clear Explanation for Why Parking Minimums Hurt Cities
Of all the cities across North America relaxing their developer parking requirements, none can boast a PSA on the topic as clear and concise as Ottawa’s 90-second “Review of Minimum Parking Standards” video.
The clip accompanies a larger public discussion Ottawa has been having all year about new parking rules. The existing zoning codes, established half a century ago, require developers to create a certain amount of parking based on the type of building in the works—the sort of “parking minimums” found in so many cities. Ottawa wants to reduce or eliminate those outdated minimums for development that occurs in inner urban areas or near transit corridors, in line with a new city plan adopted in 2013.
It’s Not YOUR Data, Didn’t You know?
Identity. In the digital age, this is widely characterised by our data. Internet browsing data, consumer data, digitised public service records and biometrics.
A key thread linking many a Smart City talk today is the optimisation of public services through data technology. This encompasses everything from delivering healthcare to underserved populations to more efficient tax collection to crowdsourcing community solutions through digital engagement platforms. All this is just one facet that adds to our daily accumulation of Big Data, defined by IBM as the information that is “generated by everything around us at all times”.
4 ways cities will dramatically change in the future — and how we can prepare
Cities are the defining political entity of this century. But what makes cities move ahead?
At the most fundamental level, mobility makes urban activity possible. Creating and sustaining a transportation network is one of the oldest and most important functions of government, opening the doors to commerce and human interaction.
UN-Habitat organizes ‘One UN solutions for cities and climate change’ event at COP21
UN-Habitat on Tuesday, 08 December, hosted a ‘One UN solutions for cites & climate change: the new climate agreement & the new urban agenda’ event at the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP21. The session convened representatives of cities, academia, the private sector, national governments and the UN family for a lively panel discussion to establish a solid connection between the new Climate Agreement and the New Urban Agenda; to discuss and raise awareness of the various challenges, opportunities and solutions related to cities and climate change; and to present and discuss the UN system’s solutions and input in the field of cities and climate change that can enrich the new urban agenda.
Poly Garden City – Athens micro-CLIMATE City
“Poly Garden City” is a participative climate adaptation project that integrates green into Athens built environment by fusing buildings and gardens into new hybrid urban typologies.
An initiative of Hybrid Space Lab (Elizabeth Sikiaridi & Frans Vogelaar) to raise awareness on issues of integration of green space in downtown Athens, the project “Πολυ Garden City” is collaborating via the participative platform of Athens Municipality “SynAthina” with local urban initiatives, linking them with international and Greek expertise.
City to City Migration Profiles and Dialogue: a priority for UCLG's political agenda
Migration, voluntary or forced, is intensifying in the Mediterranean basin, inherently an area with a lot of traffic in terms of exchange and transit of people and goods. Faced with this situation, cities, offering a wide range of opportunities and services, are naturally attractive to people looking for a better and more secure future.
UCLG is contributing to the City to City Migration Profiles and Dialogue Project, co-funded by the European Commission and in partnership with the International Center for Migratory Policy Development (ICMPD) and UN-Habitat, which will establish a tool, available to cities, to assist them in improving their understanding of the migratory phenomenon and the challenges being faced at a local level.
Innovation and impact on welcome policies: the example of Barcelona
During the first decade of this century Barcelona was defining a global public policy for welcoming the thousands of immigrants arriving each year to the city, as a first step towards a more global process of intercultural integration. The system had its symbol in a municipal centre called SAIER that was created more than 30 years ago to support immigrant and refugees. The SAIER is funded by the municipality but many of its main services are offered by important NGOs, associations of lawyers and trade unions.
However, the massive arrival of immigrants in the past years meant that many local NGOs, civic or cultural centres were providing some kind of welcome services (learning the language, legal advice, knowledge of the environment, occupational training workshops, empowerment of women, youth work etc.)
Migrants cope with city life in fast urbanizing Vietnam
Migrants flooding into Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and other Vietnamese cities face an array of challenges once they get there. AFP reports that many villagers struggle with cramped housing, traffic congestion and low-wage jobs.
In Vietnam’s two largest cities, infrastructure is overstretched. “Roads, water supplies and drainage can hardly keep pace with the city’s growth,” the article says. Vietnam has a “household registration” system that makes it difficult for citizens who leave their hometowns to access free schools and healthcare. But bribes and other corruption provide a means around the restrictions.
From 2000 to 2010, an estimated 7.5 million villagers in Vietnam relocated to cities, the newswire says. That tide has helped fuel an urbanization rate that is the third highest in East Asia, after Laos and Cambodia. Each year, Hanoi adds about 100,000 residents and Ho Chi Minh absorbs about 130,000.
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