News & links

Don't walk this way: why Hong Kong reopened a pedestrian street to cars
Hong Kong's solution to noisy buskers: open a pedestrian street to cars. While the elevated walkway network is outstanding, at street level Hong Kong is way behind other cities in the region and decades behind Europe.
The Guardian, 20/09/2018

Robert Venturi: the bad-taste architect who took a sledgehammer to modernism
Robert Venturi, author of one of the 20th Century's best books on architecture, 'Learning from Las Vegas', has died. The Guardian: "Venturi was one of the most influential figures in 20th-century architecture, taking an erudite sledgehammer to the dogmas of modernism and arguing for a world that embraced history, diversity and humour."
The Guardian, 20/09/2018

Induced Demand
The complex sets of inputs required for quantifying induced demand—including local economic and demographic conditions, the quality and availability of alternative transportation options, and the decision-making processes of thousands of individual actors—leave plenty of room for interpretation.
Citylab, 06/09/2018

College Park is pulling for south metro Atlanta’s first transit-based zoning
The proposed new rules detail very specific requirements on such aspects as height of buildings, lot sizes, building materials, facade designs, landscaping, parking and lighting, and also prohibit business types including vehicle sales, pawn shops, adult entertainment and tattoo parlours.
Curbed Atlanta, 04/09/2018

See No Evil
An article explaining the robustness of supply chains. 'Tributaries' rather than 'chains'. ... "In some sense all gold is the same, so you just buy the cheapest gold you can get. But if you look at it in another way, it matters how it was mined and transported. And then all of the sudden, every piece of gold is a little bit different."
Miriam Posner, Logic Magazine, 11/08/2018

A Once-Maligned Concrete Megastructure in Seoul is Revitalized—Sans Gentrification
A focus on infill and re-use is example for some of the largely abandoned areas in cities like Ji'an, China. "Now, thanks to the Remaking Sewoon Project, which Seoul mayor Park Won-soon spearheaded in 2015, Sewoon Sangga is poised as an adaptive- reuse success story in the city’s post–2008 recession efforts to improve walkability, connect communities, and nurture creative growth."
Metropolis, 08/08/2018

Secret document warns vision for Sydney's light rail ignored realities
A 'Lessons for Light Rail' report says the project for a light rail from Sydney's CBD to the eastern suburbs should have had a more detailed design process with a longer evaluation and negotiation period. The report notes that "Visions were promoted before understanding the real constraints of the project - the underground utilities and drainage."
SMH, 05/08/2018

Two Dockless Bikeshare Companies Have Left D.C., One Citing Tight Regulations
Mobike is leaving Washington DC citing a 400-bike cap that killed any chance of efficient or meangingful operations. Washington joins the long list of cities that rather than embracing dockless bike sharing and the potential to double or triple the proportion of trips made by bicycle, has instead focused on over-regulation and obstruction.
WAMU, 25/07/2018

China made solar panels cheap. Now it’s doing the same for electric buses.
"Battery electric buses are still a nascent technology; they haven’t hit the steep upward slope of the S-curve yet. For city and county authorities, the decision between BEBs and diesel or natural gas buses is still agonizingly difficult, involving considerations about infrastructure, interoperability, lock-in, and lifecycle analysis that are new to many of them. So the market needs a kick in the pants to really get moving. And it looks like China is providing it."
Vox, 24/07/2018

Apartment buildings are illegal to build in 73.5% of San Francisco
"Apartment building" is defined to be a building with 3 or more homes. It is illegal to build a building with more than 5 homes in 87% of San Francisco. Many apartment buildings already exist in the red and orange areas but would be illegal to build today.
vadimg (data SF Gov, code Github), 19/07/2018

Uber's e-bikes are cannibalizing rides from Uber's cars
The greatest shift away from cars occurred each weekday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., when traffic congestion is at its worst. Uber and Jump anticipated that, figuring that passengers would seek alternatives to slogging through gridlock in a car.
CNN, 19/07/2018

How Helsinki Arrived at the Future of Urban Travel First
[Another installment in the 'future of urban transport' genre.] Instead of using one app for rides and local government apps for public transport, Whim offers a single app with a single fee. Users get to pick the most efficient way to get between any two places. “We’re trying to solve the big question in transportation: What do we need to offer to compete with car ownership?”
Bloomberg, 15/07/2018

American Cities Are Drowning in Car Storage
'It’s not an exaggeration to say American cities have been built for cars more than people. [...] “Car storage has become the primary land use in many city areas.” In Des Moines, for example, there are 18 times as many parking spaces per acre as households — 1.6 million parking spaces and about 81,000 homes. In Philadelphia, there are 3.7 times more parking spaces than households. Of the five cities, only New York has more households than parking spaces, and New York still has 1.85 million parking spaces.'
Streetsblog, 12/07/2018

Mobike Discards Deposits in Bid for Bike-Sharing Supremacy
New users of Mobike no longer have to put up a 300 yuan ($45) deposit, and the platform’s 105 million current users are now eligible to get their deposits refunded.
Caixin, 05/07/2018

Where did Sydney light-rail project go so wrong?
When did it all go wrong? Rather than directly engage contractors to perform specific works, a government wraps up an entire project into one large contract, with risks provided for in the details of that contract.
Sydney Morning Herald, 30/06/2018

AMERICA’S UGLY STRIP MALLS WERE CAUSED BY GOVERNMENT REGULATION
Strip malls come from government regulation, not the market: requirements on setbacks, parking, single use, density.
Market Urbanism Report, 28/06/2018

Do Londoners dream of electric buses?
"There are also plans that could see a return, in a way, of the old trollybus. Rather than an unsightly electric wire running the entire length of the route, as say on a tram network, here there would be recharging points at bus stops."
IanVisits, 26/06/2018

Deals on Wheels: Why Group Bike Rides Are the New Boardroom
Cyclists have been praising their sport as the “new golf” for business networking.
Wall Street Journal, 20/06/2018

BYD’s SkyRail Project Called Off Amid Stricter Scrutiny of Rail Projects
The project was halted because developers failed to report related information to the NDRC to obtain necessary approval and tried to skirt regulatory reviews. The 7.8-kilometer rail was scheduled to start operation by the end of this year, but there has been no sign of resumed construction. A Hunan government official told Caixin that the city and provincial governments submitted a revised city transportation development plan to the NDRC for further review.
Caixin, 08/06/2018

Report criticizes Albuquerque BRT project
What can go wrong with poorly planned BRT? Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement: “The report is a helpful summary of how they got into this mess. The findings show why it’s taking an extraordinary amount of time and effort to clean it up, so the transportation system works for the people of our city.”
Albuquerque Journal, 08/06/2018

Madrid Takes Its Car Ban to the Next Level
Following an announcement this week, the Spanish capital confirmed that, starting in November, all non-resident vehicles will be barred from a zone that covers the entirety of Madrid’s center. The only vehicles that will be allowed in this zone are cars that belong to residents who live there, zero-emissions delivery vehicles, taxis, and public transit.
Citylab, 24/05/2018

The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations
How Tokyo train operators manage 13 billion passenger-trips a year through the world’s most crowded railway stations. The method is part planning, part engineering, part psychology. Blue lamps at the ends of platforms deter suicide attempts. Melodic jingles alert passengers to departing trains, in place of alarmist whistles and buzzers. High-pitched noise generators, inaudible to the over-25s, disperse teenagers tempted to gather in station concourses.
Citylab, 22/05/2018

London one of worst capitals in Europe for clean, safe transport, study shows
UK capital has the most expensive public transport, third-worst air quality and is one of most dangerous to walk and cycle, study by the Wuppertal Institute of 13 cities reveals. Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Oslo score the highest.
The Guardian, 22/05/2018

Electric Scooter Charger Culture Is Out of Control
Bird is a scooter-sharing company that launched in 2017 and has been dubbed the “Uber of scooters.” When night falls, what most riders don’t realize is that the scooters themselves are charged by a contract workforce. These people are known as “Bird hunters” or “chargers.”
The Atlantic, 20/05/2018

Chicago Parking Meter Lease Slow-Motion Train Wreck Only Has 65 More Years to Go
Chicago’s parking meter system raked in $134.2 million last year, putting private investors on pace to recoup their entire $1.16 billion investment by 2021 with 62 years to go in the lease, the latest annual audit shows. Chicago has converted what used to be $23.8 million in annual revenues for the city and turned it into a $21.7 million expense.
Urbanophile, 17/05/2018

We can’t forget about mass transit when we talk about the ‘future of transportation’
The best ideas for improving public transportation are simply not flashy. A bus rapid transit system (which is arguably one of the better ways a city can improve the flow of its citizens), is just not as scintillating an answer as a “fleet of self-driving cars,” or “flying cars,” or that blasted jetpack.
The Verge, 12/05/2018

China Seeks to Rein In Ambitious High-Speed Rail Projects
China's top national economic planner has issued guidelines specifying that land around high speed rail stations earmarked for development should not on average exceed 50 hectares, although for a small number of stations, that figure goes to up to 100 ha. The NDRC said that new high-speed railway lines should not lead to the partitioning of cities; stations should be located within, or as near as possible to, central urban areas for convenience of passengers; and buildings should not be ostentatious, grandiose projects. Unfortunately, the horse has bolted and these guidelines probably should have been provided a decade ago.
Caixin, 09/05/2018

Railways’ failure to meet public expectations
The whole system is a shambles. Half the trains don’t work, the others move at a crawl. Crashes are frequent, death-tolls are high, workers live miserably. “The rail between Sukkur and Quetta still uses the British-era signal system that employs kerosene lanterns on signal posts and a token, passed from one group of the signal staff to the next, to ensure that there are no gaps in communication.”
Herald, 30/04/2018

Electric Buses Are Hurting the Oil Industry
China had about 99 percent of the 385,000 electric buses on the roads worldwide in 2017, accounting for 17 percent of the country’s entire fleet. Every five weeks, Chinese cities add 9,500 of the zero-emissions transporters—the equivalent of London’s entire working fleet, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance. For every 1,000 battery-powered buses on the road, about 500 barrels a day of diesel fuel will be displaced from the market.
Bloomberg, 24/04/2018

The Real Reason Your Local Mall is Failing
"And we should also recognize where our wealth really comes from. It comes from our downtown and our core neighborhoods (those within walking distance of the downtown). It certainly doesn't come from people driving through those places. It doesn't come from people commuting in. It doesn't come from tourists or developers or the potential of land development out on the edge."
Strong Towns, 23/04/2018

Here’s the real nightmare scenario for self-driving cars
"The only way to spend time with a car is to drive somewhere in it. Insofar as they get revenue from advertising, owners of shared vehicle fleets will want more people to go more places in cars. Their revenue will rise with VMT, so they will strive to maximize VMT. Hitching ad revenue to VMT would put the industry squarely in opposition to other, non-car modes of transit and make it an enemy of good urban planning."
Vox, 20/04/2018

Sydney light rail's finish date now 2020, a year later than planned
When the system eventually opens, late and subject to more than $1 billion in litigation and cost overruns, it will provide a service which is slower than the former bus shuttle connecting the same areas.
Sydney Morning Herald, 19/04/2018

THE DISGRACEFUL DOCKLESS DRAMA: WHAT DOCKLESS BIKES/SCOOTERS ARE EXPOSING
"For the first time, scooters and bikes, the absolute rockstars of urban mobility, have started coming close to enjoying a similar user experience as cars: the convenient user experience of go anywhere, park anywhere. If cities allow and mandate that we be able to park cars everywhere, why shouldn’t bikes have the same convenience? Especially considering they require 10 times less space than cars and offer enormous efficiency, environmental, cost, and health benefits."
Have A Go, 18/04/2018

OLPC's $100 Laptop Was Going to Change the World - Then It All Went Wrong
“We already knew that kids could learn to use computers. They’ve been doing that since day one,” he says. “What the project did not demonstrate is that kids could use computers for learning.”
The Verge, 16/04/2018

Are Houston’s Deed Restrictions “Basically Zoning”?
City officials don't regulate zoning, but do regulate lot sizes, setbacks, and parking requirements. They also enforce private deed restrictions.
Market Urbanism, 11/04/2018

No finish date for Sydney's light rail as company takes NSW to court
The legal bill for the 14-km line has climbed past $15 million so far – or 0.72 per cent of the $2.1 billion cost of the project. And Spanish builder Acciona, subcontracted by ALTRAC, are reportedly demanding an extra $1.2 billion from the government due to additional utilities complexities.
Sydney Morning Herald, 10/04/2018

Transit retail hitting the mark as train stations multiply
"Transit hubs, like hospitals and airports, are the new frontiers for retailers... Sydney Metro Northwest are planning to deliver retail offerings that are station specific and complementary to the broader newly created station precinct and retail already on offer in the immediate area."
Sydney Morning Herald, 07/04/2018

HK$80 from Hong Kong to Zhuhai on mega bridge – sole bus rights go to group including ‘gambling queen’ Pansy Ho’s firm
Between 90 and 140 buses will run daily between the border checkpoints of the three cities. They will depart every five minutes at peak hours and every 10 to 15 minutes in non-peak hours. A night service will see buses leaving every 15 to 30 minutes. The HK$80 fare to Zhuhai is much lower than the HK$220 ferry and HK$130 coaches using other routes.
South China Morning Post, 05/04/2018

Beijing strictly controls vehicle ownership of core and sub-centers
The "Beijing Municipality Parking Regulations for Motor Vehicles" was approved on 30 March. The regulations require that the number of motor vehicles in core functional areas and sub-central cities in the capital be strictly controlled; an accreditation mechanism for residential parking areas be gradually established; and that operating parking facilities within the central urban area should be open 24 hours.
Caijing (Chinese), 02/04/2018

Parking Spaces Will No Longer Be Just For Cars
Cars spend an average of 95 percent of their days at rest. Thanks to the exploding popularity of car-sharing services and the heralded arrival of autonomous vehicles, cities are reimagining their soon-to-be irrelevant parking garages.
Vice, 30/03/2018

Paris Offers Sweet Incentives to Ditch Your Car for a Bike
The city will reimburse residents who buy e-bikes and cargo bikes by up to €600. A better bet for cities than massive electric car subsidies that do nothing to address congestion issues?
Bicycling, 07/03/2018

California's Love of Cars Is Fueling Its Housing Crisis
Adding an above-ground parking spot costs $27,000, just for construction, while an underground space runs around $35,000, according to Donald Shoup in 2014.
Bloomberg, 06/03/2018

San Jose Becomes Fourth California City to Adopt VMT as Metric for Traffic Impacts
San Jose City Council has adopted a new citywide policy that requires new developments to account for the amount of vehicle travel they would produce, rather than just how much they will delay car traffic. And transportation projects that encourage travel by transit, bike, or walking may no longer even have to go through a CEQA analysis for transportation impacts, since it is presumed they will produce fewer vehicles miles traveled.
Streetsblog Cal, 06/03/2018

Electric Bikes Want To Take On Everyone - Even Uber
Dockless, electric bike sharing is the future?
Wired, 22/02/2018

Highrise car parks to be banned in drive to improve city streetscapes
Underground car parking would be the only type allowed in most city apartment and office developments, under new rules being considered by Melbourne City Council. Many additional streetscape-improving policies are being planned.
The Age, 15/02/2018

China’s SUV Sales Rise Sharply, Underpin Gasoline Demand
SUVs now account for 40 percent of the country’s passenger vehicle market, up from 17 percent in 2013.
The Fuse, 02/02/2018

These maps reveal the truth about population density across Europe
Simply dividing the number of people by the land area of a country is not always the best way to understand population density.
CityMetric, 25/01/2018

Plan To Hike Taxes Near Big Subway Projects
NY State 2019 budget plan would give the Metropolitan Transportation Authority the power to create "transportation improvement subdistricts" in areas where property values would increase because of transit projects.
Patch Media, 23/01/2018

Didi has a brilliant plan to contain the threat of China’s bike-sharing services
By introducing its own bike sharing service inside its own app, Didi aims to tame Ofo and Bluegogo. It wants them to exist as features inside its app, rather than develop services that could challenge Didi’s dominance.
Techcrunch, 17/01/2018

ART project ‘a bit of a lemon,’ mayor says as problems mount
Mayor Tim Keller and his administration say problems with the Albuquerque Bus Rapid Transit project are so grave that they won’t even venture a guess on when the project will be operational.
Albuquerque Journal, 09/01/2018

Netflix, Deliveroo and terrorism blamed for huge dip in Tube passenger numbers
Figures show London Underground users dropped by 2 per cent in a year, meaning 4 million fewer people are travelling on the Tube.
The Independent, 03/01/2018

Why experts believe cheaper, better lidar is right around the corner
Lidar used to cost $75,000, but the price may fall to $100. Like radar, lidar scanners can measure distances with high accuracy. Some lidar sensors can even measure velocity, and lidar provides high resolution and works about as well in any lighting.
Ars Technica, 01/01/2018

Empty Buses Allegedly Help Automaker Get Its Hands On Electric Car Subsidies
A national rule compels carmakers to prove that a customer has driven a new-energy car at least 30,000 km on the road before the manufacturer can apply for a subsidy for it.
Caixin, 28/12/2017

Docks Off
U.S. cities are being invaded by dock-less bike share. It’s going to be messy—and worth it.
Slate, 18/12/2017

Traffic fumes in city streets 'largely wipe out exercise benefits for over-60s'
Walking in Oxford St compared to Hype Park: A study highlights the risks to health by walking along polluted roads, for the over-60s with specific pre-existing medical conditions.
The Guardian, 06/12/2017

Electric cars already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel – study
The researchers analysed the total cost of ownership of cars over four years, including the purchase price and depreciation, fuel, insurance, taxation and maintenance. Pure electric cars came out cheapest in all the markets examined.
The Guardian, 02/12/2017

To Reduce Pollution, London Will Outlaw Parking Construction
Khan’s goal is to increase the share of trips by foot, bike, or transit from 64 percent to 80 percent over the next 25 years, according to the Times, eliminating 3 million daily car trips.
Streetsblog, 28/11/2017

WeChat Hitches Ride on Guangzhou Metro
Since unlike the existing public transport card, WeChat payment does not offer discounts to frequent riders, it's likely to appeal to only irregular users.
Caixin, 20/11/2017

Wheels Fall Off Wuhan’s Government-Backed Bikes
Wuhan Huantou, the operator of Wuhan’s bike-rental service, announced in a statement that its bicycle business will cease operation on Sunday. This will mean its 40,000 public bikes will be removed from the city’s streets.
Caixin, 20/11/2017

China Revises Key Policy to Rein in Subway Boom
The NDRC is reportedly considering tightening the 2003 rules on population, GDP and revenue that are applied to cities wanting to build subways.
Caixin, 18/11/2017

Is Rapid Growth of Subway Systems in China Losing Steam?
"Since Baotou’s project was halted, the NDRC and its local commissions have been giving greater consideration to the financial risks of proposed subway projects."
Caixin, 13/11/2017

London's Oxford Street could be traffic-free by December 2018, says mayor
Large parts of London's Oxford Street could be pedestrianised by December 2018, under plans put forward by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
BBC, 06/11/2017

Faster Growth Begins With a Land Tax in U.S. Cities
The tax would reduce land prices and increase the incentive to build more, which in turn will help drive down rents, making a city more affordable.
Bloomberg, 24/10/2017

Did a conspiracy really destroy LA's huge streetcar system?
In fact, the streetcars might just have been doomed long before National City Lines got involved.
Curbed, 20/10/2017

Councils' knee-jerk reaction is the problem, not share bikes
Instead of trying to control and repress this free-floating, revolutionary and joyful way of getting around our city, by corralling the bikes into set parking areas, why don't councils work on creating the best possible conditions for it to work?
Sydney Morning Herald, 18/10/2017

London Overground is experimenting with telling passengers which bits of the next train is busiest
Can the same be done for BRT buses on high frequency lines?
CityMetric, 17/10/2017

The European cities leading the way in car-free living in a bid to tackle toxic air pollution
Copenhagen, Madrid, Oslo, Hamburg, Paris, Athens, Brussels.
Evening Standard, 16/10/2017

Our cities need fewer cars, not cleaner cars
Electric cars won’t eradicate gridlocks and air pollution, but carbon footprints could be cut by favouring pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit.
The Guardian, 16/10/2017

Inner-city living makes for healthier, happier people, study finds
The study – by Oxford University and the University of Hong Kong – showed that in 22 British cities people living in built-up residential areas had lower levels of obesity and exercised more than residents in scattered, suburban homes.
The Guardian (citing Lancet), 06/10/2017

Amsterdam Rethinks the Traffic Light’s Role in City Planning
“In the end, traffic light infrastructure is an infrastructure for cars, not an infrastructure for people on bikes and people walking. In locations with high levels of people on bikes and people walking, traffic lights maybe aren’t appropriate.”
Next City, 05/10/2017

Green Gentrification, and How Environmentalists Can Avoid It
A new report from the Prevention Institute — Healthy Development Without Displacement: Realizing the Vision of Healthy Communities for All — aims to connect healthy community development with sound anti-displacement policies.
NRDC, 05/10/2017

The ‘New Urbanism’ Movement Might Be Dead
Like 'big data', New Urbanism has become so mainstream that it’s hard to think of it as a separate movement anymore.
Governing, 01/10/2017

UK is on the road to a cycling revolution
Mobike and the other new arrivals, Ofo, OBike and Urbo, find themselves in harmony with the UK government's health and transportation plans.
China Daily, 30/09/2017

More showers, lockers for workers who cycle to office could be a reality, with grant extension
Singapore transport authority funds construction of facilities, Travel Smart Rewards, and Travel Smart Consultancy Vouchers
Straits Times, 29/09/2017

Los Angeles' legendary palm trees are dying – and few will be replaced
A beetle known as the South American palm weevil and a fungus called Fusarium are killing palm trees across southern California ... and doing residents a big favour.
The Guardian, 29/09/2017

New report reveals huge social value of London’s high streets
A report explores the threats to high streets as well as their value and offers recommendations to strengthen them.
LSECities, 29/09/2017

Deloitte 4+ months late on breach: New poster child for bad security practices?
Trust in big consulting firms? Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. is the world’s No. 1 security consulting group.
Tech Beacon, 28/09/2017

UnionPay launches mobile payment in public transportation in 20 cities
"Public transportation, having a large user group, high frequency of use and position information, is one of the best industries where companies can attract users and collect data."
China Daily, 28/09/2017

Tfl plans to make £322m by collecting data from passengers' mobiles via Tube Wi-Fi
TfL in 2016 ran a pilot which tracked Wi-Fi signals from 5.6 million phones as people moved around the London Underground, even if they weren't connected to a Wi-Fi network. It is now in consultation about tracking passengers on a permanent basis.
Sky News, 27/09/2017

Bike-sharing schemes might seem like a waste of space but the economics makes sense
The economic models behind dockless bike share schemes actually have as much to do with data mining, advertising and turning a profit from interest on the deposits as from the bike rental itself.
The Conversation, 19/09/2017

Build it and they will come? Why Britain's 1960s cycling revolution flopped
“If the reasons for Stevenage’s failure to encourage cycling were that it was too easy to drive, then no amount of investment in marketing the town’s cycling facilities would have changed travel behaviour.”
The Guardian, 19/09/2017

Idea to use MTR dividends to subsidise fares is way off track
"Public transport is widely used by all people except those at the very top of the income range. I don’t need the cheaper fares. Yet I will be given them."
SCMP, 08/07/2017

Dubai on Empty
Nothing actually goes anywhere. The wide lanes loop around endlessly, and then there’s no place to go. No plaza or square, no center. Nowhere to hang out, nowhere to walk.
Vanity Fair, 15/04/2011