Weekly Reading: Some Fun Reads for Secretary Peterson

Transportation was all over the news this week, especially here in Washington State where we not only saw the passage of the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill in the state House, but also saw the ascension of a new Secretary for the Washington State Department of Transportation (Transportation Issues Daily has a good round up of reactions) and the announcement of a new statewide transportation funding package (reactions here here and here). So we tailored some of the weekly reading selections to Secretary Peterson, who, after a whirlwind week in Olympia, might want to enjoy some lighter mobility-related fare.

StrongTowns started the week inveighing against our tendency to design orderly solutions, which are also, in Chuck's words, "dumb." He advocates for a different approach, highlighting "chaotic but smart" designs.

Our old friend Paul Chasan, now in San Francisco, sends word of the City's release of the Parklet Manual. Very exciting and congrats to San Francisco to this first-of-its-kind document.

Backing up some of Brent Toderian's points, Atlantic Cities writes about how to begin to close the gender gap in cycling. Hint: it starts with an "S" and ends with an "afety."

Philadelphia released what looks like a great Complete Streets manual. For example, the street typologies include "High-Volume Pedestrian" streets and "Walkable Commercial Corridors." Why so awesome? You know, immediately, which users have the priority.

Tom Fuculoro, over at Seattle Bike Blog, has some fun stoking a good-natured rivalry between Chicago's Mayor Emanuel and our own Mayor McGinn over bike lanes and jobs.

The Seattle Times has an interesting infographic based on data from Commute Seattle about which neighborhoods are "cycling hot spots."

Urban hacking? Sounds fun. Some examples are at the top of the post, but many more can be found here.

Finally, want gorgeous? The original 1970 Massimo Vignelli designed New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual.

Weekly Reading: 01/25/2013

This week, we wanted to highlight a few exceptional articles that came across our desks. First, from Sightline Institute, Lisa Stiffler digs into a question that we're often asked when working with communities to implement green stormwater infrastructure/low impact development facilities. "Are Rain Gardens Mini-Toxic Cleanup Sites?" Compiling the best available science, Stiffler concludes:

The bottom line is that the soil in rain gardens is safe for kids and pets. That said, people are advised to wash their hands after working or playing in any soil, which can contain naturally occurring metals, fecal waste from the neighbor’s dog, or any number of compounds one wouldn’t want to ingest. And remember that while rain gardens are attractive landscape features, the plants and soil are also doing an important job, so they need to be treated with some care.

Next, StreetsblogDC covers a new report from the Tax Foundation that, "50.7 percent of America’s road spending comes from gas taxes, tolls, and other fees levied on drivers. The other 49.3 percent? Well, that comes from general tax dollars, just like education and health care. The way we spend on roads has nothing to do with the free market, or even how much people use roads." So the next time someone asks how much a cyclist pays for a bike lane, you have a ready answer: 49 percent.

Finally, both Atlantic Cities and Science Daily report on Geoffrey Donovan's fascinating research showing a connection between the decline in Michigan's tree health with a decline in the area's human health. As Lindsay Abrams writes:

When the U.S. Forest Service looked at mortality rates in counties affected by the emerald ash borer, they found increased mortality rates. Specifically, more people were dying of cardiovascular and lower respiratory tract illness -- the first and third most common causes of death in the U.S. As the infestation took over in each of these places, the connection to poor health strengthened.

Now here's a little bit of joy to start your weekend:

Weekly Reading: December 14, 2013

Want to see the world’s oldest trees in a beautiful infographic? We knew you did. Stunning work by Michael Paukner, which had us thinking: poor Africa.

The Congress for the New Urbanism has published a beautifully presented pamphlet outlining seven Sustainable Street Network Principles.

Dave's an author! Check out Living Streets: Strategies for Crafting Public Space, which our own Dave Rodgers helped write with Lesley Bain  and Barbara Gray.

Over at Reconnecting America, they’ve released a report called “Are We There Yet? Creating Complete Communities for a 21st Century America” Hint: the answer is no.

The EPA released a great new report bolstering the case for smart growth as a superior economic development model called Smart Growth and Economic Success.

The guy from The Graduate was right: the future is plastic. Vancouver is finding a way to recycle plastic in it’s streets.

We’re still ogling the beautiful green wall over at UW and how cool it is to have movable panels to test/play with. David from our office helped design it and it's a stunner.

Some of the folks in the office are investigating using standing desks. Well, for $22 and a trip to IKEA, here’s a nifty little hack that can get you a very affordable standing desk without shelling out $800.

Fascinating data coming out from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows lower traffic deaths, but higher ped/bike fatalities.

Boston City Hall “To Go” brings municipal services to the people!

We’re curious to see the transportation package that Governor Gregoire rolls out next week. Seattle Transit Blog shares their initial take here and here.

Finally, coal exports came to Seattle this week, and it caused a ruckus. Want to know what all the fuss was about? Sightline has a series that will bring you up to speed.