Rebalancing Our Streets
By EV World
Densification: The practice of increasing the concentration of human occupation within a geographic region or urban zone.
It's a strategy that is increasingly become popular among urban planners, but it also presents problems because it means the people who live and work in dense communities have to contend with traffic noise and motor vehicle air pollution. But there are good development practices, some dating back more than 100 years, that can mitigate these and related problems -- including making it easier for people to justify leaving their cars behind.
Good urban planning strategies and practices are the topic of Elizabeth Macdonald's 30-minute presentation at the Meeting of the Minds conference last September in Oakland, California. [See other MoM presenter links below]. She discusses projects in which she has been involved, along with her partner, Alan Jacobs in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One of the most livable communities in the world, Vancouver, British Columbia, can date its original urban development plans back to the 1920s, Macdonald notes, though it continues to implement initiatives to enhance its "densification" efforts in its urban core, while preserving and expanding its greenways and parks, efforts that minimize the need for automobiles and make it more convenient to walk, ride a bike or take public transit.
Citing Amsterdam as another prime example where pedestrians and bicycles -- and excellent public transit -- have priority in urban development, Macdonald stresses that she personally favors "low tech" solutions to problems. She points out that one of Paris' answers to its noise pollution problem was the implementation of its Le Velib shared bicycle system, which has been a huge success. By January 2008, the advertising-sponsored venture, should be at 20,000 bicycles. It already has 100,000 members who pay a nominal fee for access to racks of locked bicycles strategically positioned around the city.
For other examples smart, often low-tech, solutions to making life less car-dependent, hear her complete talk, use either of the two MP3 players above or feel free to download the file to your computer for playback on your favorite MP3 device.