Weekly Reading: Soak It Up!, Land Use Morality and Space Needles as Tribbles

Concrete Panels with embedded LEDThey look like lights, don't they? Think again. This wall in Germany is comprised entirely of concrete.

Cool Brittania indeed! Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party Mayor of London, made waves on this side of the Atlantic with bicycle advocates when he announced a $1.4 billion plan to bring a separated bicycle path through downtown London, crossing the city safely from east to west. Sociecity notes:

"To grasp the enormity of London’s $1.4 billion bicycle investment, Janette Sadik-Khan, the sitting Commissioner of New York’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has a budget of roughly $2 billion at her disposal… that’s her entire transportation budget. The entire New York City cycling development budget over the past five years is in the neighborhood of $2 million, or about 0.009% of what London’s budget will be in 2015 alone. The proposal is enormous."

Earlier this week, on the very day we saw the naming of a new pontiff, Kaid Benfield enumerated the seven deadly sins of land use. He reserves some special rhetorical venom for those of us in the field by chiding us for the sin of sloth:

"...the laziness that most offends me is within our own community - a failure of urbanist and smart-growth advocates to demand more of our built environment. I won’t belabor the point, since I’ve said it so often, but advocating infill, density and transit is no longer enough in the 21st century. Since the modern smart growth movement was conceived in the 1990s, there have been striking advances in thinking about green infrastructure, green buildings, healthy food systems, placemaking, equitable economic development, public health and the built environment, and more. If these things aren’t front and center of our agenda, we’re not doing our jobs."

Get the flash player here:

Philadelphia's Soak It Up! Competition has released the shortlist of finalists. Enjoy/critique the eye candy here.

"In what should be a surprise to no one, Canadian research have published their findings from an in-depth study of cyclists safety and have concluded that: Erecting physical barriers between traffic and bicycle lanes, ensuring relatively flat commuting surfaces and regulating vehicle speeds all have the potential to curtail cycling injuries on city streets."

That's especially good news because, as Atlantic Cities reported a while back, road traffic is the "single biggest source of fatality" for young people around the world. They could use some separated bike lanes, reduced speeds and, perhaps, like New York City has done, some Slow Zones. Even the US DOT, often maligned as "highway builders" in some camps, is stepping up to the challenge and developing their own bicycle and pedestrian safety standards.

Finally, a bit of a Friday funny. With the land use debate raging about zoning in South Lake Union and concerns about views to the Space Needle being obstructed, some enterprising photoshoppers have turned the discussion on its head by asking, "If you're worried about views to the Space Needle, why not build more Space Needles?" KOMO has the story.

What Seattle could look like with more Space Needles. Photo illustration by Michael Harthorne. Original photo by Wikimedia Commons user 'jelson25'.