Tag Archives: vancouver

Imagining a City Built for Bicycles

A lot is made, and rightfully so, of the differences between walkable cities and auto-dependent cities, but isn’t there a middle way? Truly walkable cities, like most medieval walled cities and their small town USA descendents, aren’t really cities in the modern context. They can’t accommodate the scale and diversity we now associate with a city. Auto-dependent cities handle scale and diversity just fine, but they disconnect people from the built environment and each other. But what if we built our cities for bicycles? What would that look like? What benefits and drawbacks would this model have?
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Posted in architecture, Auto Independence, can bicycles save the world?, Culture, human scale, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Placemaking, transit, Transportation, Uncategorized, urban design, urban planning, walkable, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The World’s Most Beautiful Cities

Since beauty is subjective, we surveyed city specialists from a range of fields, including urban planning, architecture and sustainable development. Respondents include Reynolds and Michael Kaufman, an architect at Chicago-based architectural firm Goettsch Partners, as well as Raymond Levitt, director of the construction program in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, Tony McGuirk, an urban designer, architect and chairman of BDP in London, J. Hugh O’Donnell of urban engineering firm MMM International, and Ken Drucker, New York design director of architectural firm HOK.
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Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland by Rail, Bus, Streetcar, and Foot: Part Three

Portland, like its famed streetcar, is an interesting case. It boasts many of the pieces found in successful cities and some that no other American cities can match. The streetcar. Light rail. Cycle tracks. Skateboard tracks. An aerial tram. Traffic calming. No major downtown arterials. Local music. Local art. Local beer. Great food. Environmental awareness. A history of proactive and progressive decision making. Historic urban fabric. Food trucks. Park blocks. It’s walkable. It’s bikable. There is much to like in Portland, and the hype is not all smoke and mirrors.

But…
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Posted in Auto Independence, Culture, Dispatches, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Portland: City or Scene?, Rants, transit, Transportation, Uncategorized, walkable | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Beauty Kills—A Self-Rebuttal: Or, Why Joel Kotkin isn’t Always Wrong

In my recent post, Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities, I argued that beauty is an essential element of urbanism. Forget all of that for a moment; here’s the other side of the coin: beauty kills. It can turn cities into lifeless museums animated only by tourists, inhibiting creativity and innovation while exacerbating segregation and homogenization. Look at any interior design magazine spread; room upon room of artful still-life orchestration. These are rooms that pose, not rooms that are lived in. Look at fashion models, their faces inscrutable and eyes vacant. True, this is not the sort of beauty I was advocating, but an emphasis on beauty can quickly lead one astray if untempered. Beauty is essential, yes, but it can be as intoxicating as drugs, and potentially as destructive.
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Posted in Culture, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Placemaking, Rants, Response Pieces, Sustainability, Uncategorized, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland by Rail, Bus, Streetcar, and Foot: Part Two

According to The Economist, Mercer, and Monocle, Vancouver is one of the world’s most livable cities. They cite its ecodensity, cosmopolitan population, scenic natural surroundings, progressive governance, general safety and cleanliness. Others, less enthralled, have taken to calling the city Blandcouver, or even Vanshitty. I had visited Vancouver twice before boarding Amtrak’s 510 Cascades Line train out of Seattle, had fallen in love with the city twice, but both trips had been brief, summertime affairs. Everywhere was shimmering blue water, glittering glass and steel, lush green forests and mountains. Vancouver sure knows how to get dolled up for a date, but what does she look like the morning after, in sweat pants and no makeup, during the long, wet, gray winter? Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Dispatches, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Sustainability, transit, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments