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Attached to this discussion thread at my.greatcity.org are some fascinating maps from a recent Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group meeting.

Now, these are drafts. The outside consultants and SDOT were seeking input from the advisory group and the maps will change based on that input. But the approach is fascinating. By capturing a rich set of data about health, accidents, traffic, existing conditions, etc, a picture begins to emerge about where the city needs to focus its efforts. This approach will be refined over the next month or two.

The feedback from the committee was generally positive, with some warnings to make sure that data did not overwhelm the human story, and to “ground-truth” the results of the analysis and not just rely on the story told by data.

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(via citywalker) posted on behalf of Lydia Heard

This started out as something of a rant. I’ve been frustrated with a local campaign that I’ve been peripherally a part of, called Streets for People, part of the Seattle Great City Initiative and now the Seattle Network. The stated campaign philosophy uses the right words, about moving away from auto dominance and making streets better for walking, biking and transit. My experience of it so far, however, is that it is dominated by bicycle enthusiasts. When I first wrote this, I have to admit to actually writing something like “male, testosterone driven, speed obsessed bicycle advocates” because that represents the person who tends to jump down my throat if I dare to suggest that cyclists might control their speed in certain situations. This is of course biased and unfair to the women cyclists who are equally obsessed, but I have hormonal issues of my own and should probably avoid writing this at all. Ah, well, here it is anyway.

If this was still the rant, I would be going on about the difference between people and human powered machines, which is what a bicycle is. They are technologically advanced machines, capable of ever greater speeds, dependent on complicated gearing systems. The speed, and the cyclists speed obsession, is the problem with mixing these speed machines on the same paths with people on foot. Of course, the real speed machine, the deadly one, is the automobile. Giving streets, or a larger share of them, to people on bicycles would benefit pedestrians as well, by getting the bikes off the sidewalks.

That’s enough ranting now, really. The point is that this campaign should be about finding common interests, getting the single-issue advocates out of their silos and combining efforts between interest groups, to greater effect. We seem to be reinforcing and increasing the number of silos instead. When I became unhappy with Streets for People, I started looking around. There’s another group called Safe Walks, which sounds good, but the focus is on building sidewalks in the annexed suburbs. I’m not really interested in advocating for more infrastructure for single-family neighborhoods, although they do have a deadly serious problem for people trying to walk along arterial roads. I’d still rather reduce and slow down the cars, to make streets safer for people, but those neighborhoods are too heavily car dependent.

Then there was the big push to renew the parks levy, which I have to say I really didn’t care about at all. My streets are my open space, and downtown parks are the receptacle of problems that have not found solutions, havens for the disenfranchised and for drug dealers. I have my own silo of interests, and our public right of way contains all of them. Open space, sunlight and air circulation, park and playground, place for green infrastructure, for cyclists, walkers and transit, it’s all there in the street, if only we could combine our efforts to take back a share of it. This would-be rant is probably counter-productive, and more indicative of my own faulty biases than of possible solutions, but it seems that one element is at the root of the goals of many of these groups, and that is taking back space, public space, from dedicated car usage. One element, one goal. Could we all get obsessed with that one?

(A final note on obsession: The title of this post is from a song by Kraftwerk, whose lead singer was so obsessed with cycling that, after being in a coma from a terrible bike accident, his first words upon awaking were to ask for his bicycle.)

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(via Streetsblog)

New York City’s Department of Transportation, led by Janette Sadik-Kahn announced today that they will be opening nearly three acres of streets to pedestrian traffic. And where might this be you ask? None other than on Broadway, arguably the most famous street in America. The decision, backed by Mayor Bloomberg, comes after Sadik-Kahn’s hugely successful Public Plaza Initiative enacted in 2007. The DOT found that the new plazas greatly reduced traffic-related injuries, in some cases up to 56%. Along with saftey, the DOT sited both economic and traffic improvements as reasons for the plan, not too mention a much better streetscape for the nearly 360,000 pedestrians who visit the area every day. The plan is estimated to cost $1.5 million. Check out the full presentation below (you will notice that the four removed vehicle lanes are not being replaced by a $3 billion tunnel)

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Back by popular demand. Bigger and better. The city has put out a schedule for this year’s Summer Streets Parties! Check out the schedule:

Friday, April 10 (6-9pm): Greenwood/Phinney Summer Streets with Art Up/Open Up

Friday, May 15 (4-7pm): Ballard Summer Streets Party on Bike to Work Day

Sunday, May 31 (9am-6pm): Alki Summer Streets after WSHS PTSA 5k Fundraiser Run

Saturday, July 11 (10am-4pm): U-District Summer Streets with U-District Farmer’s Market

Sunday, July 26 (10am-4pm): Pike Place Summer Streets with Fresh Fruit Festival

Satruday, August 8 (11am-3pm): Rainer Valley Summer Streets with Heritage Parade

Join the Seattle Summer Streets group on the Seattle Network to share and discuss your ideas about how to enjoy a car-free street.

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The Downtown Seattle Association, King County Metro, and the City of Seattle have teamed up to create commuteseattle.com, a new website with online tools for commuters.  The site has portals for commuters, employers, and property owners that provide information about daily commute options, commuter tools employers can provide, and ideas for how property owners can support non auto-transportation.

Check out the site and let us know what you think.

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Been waiting a long time for your bus in the rain?  Program your I-Pod with more music.  You may wait a lot longer in 2010.

Metro Transit and its connecting systems to the north and south of Seattle are experiencing a major drop in sales tax collections.  Two thirds of their budget is covered, or in this case not covered, by the regressive sales tax.

If no new funding source is developed, that means severe service cuts in 2010 according to Metro’s top management in their report to the King County Council.

But wait, Seattle!  There’s more and worse.  Seattle and Shoreline, the “West Service Sector” for Metro, is already limited in the sales tax transit funding by the County Council-supported 20:40:40 division of those dollars: 20% to Seattle/Shoreline bus service, 80% to Eastside and South King County.  Seems unfair, since the vast majority of bus trips originate to, from, or within Seattle.

Some King County Council Members and people who lobby them want to work the 20:40:40 sales tax dollar division in reverse to require a 60/20/20 service cut.
That 60% dollar reduction in sales tax transit support for Seattle/Shoreline would create a major disruption in transportation for those cities.

Metro ridership increased more than 20% over the past two years.  New riders have stuck to Metro’s service, as fuel costs have dropped and now are rising again.

Metro and some King County Council Members are themselves lobbying Washington State House Representatives and Senators to allow the county to tap the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax for transit operations to back-fill the drop in sales tax revenues.

Consider contacting your representatives in Olympia to ask them to provide King County with the power to access the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, your annual car tab fees, to fund public transit in this recession.  The MVET dollars should go to the bus routes with the most ridership.

Right now there appears little interest by State Representatives and Senators in authorizing MVET support for transit this year.  Let them know your ideas on that or let Tim Eyeman rule.

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This is a link to some images showing how streets can be transformed to better serve communities.  These examples are from California, but they are still relevant to our situation in Seattle.

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We were pleased to host a brownbag lunch forum a number of months ago to publicize the work of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition in developing a vision for revitalizing the Duwamish River, and their community.

They just released their report, to well-deserved media attention.

There is a lot to like in it.  But what I love is that it doesn’t treat social, economic and environmental concerns as separate or mutually exclusive issues. Instead, it recognizes that the best investments are those that create great places for people who care about nature, jobs and each other. Last I checked, that describes pretty much all of us. Nice job Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.

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posted on behalf of Craig Benjamin

Sustainable Queen Anne will be co-hosting a presentation with the Uptown Alliance (http://www.uptownalliance.org) at our upcoming February meeting, Monday the 23rd.

Guest speaker, Craig Benjamin, will be talking about ways in which urban planning relates to systems that affect environmental, social and economic sustainability. Craig Benjamin, serves as Transportation Guild Coordinator for our sister organization, Sustainable Ballard.

Craig will be give a short presentation and then take questions. We are sure to gain insight into how urban design in our community impacts sustainability.

Craig Benjamin holds a Masters in Public Administration (2008) and a Certificate in Environmental Management from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs. He also holds B.A. in Public Policy from Washington and Lee University (2001). He currently works with the Cascade Agenda Cities Program of Cascade Land Conservancy.

Hope you can make it!

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For those dismayed that some forgotten areas of our region were overlooked in the last round of revitalizing investments, fear not.  Some bold plans are outlined in two articles today on Seattle’s gritty Interbay and the Eastside’s Bel-Red neighborhood. Read more

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When I worked in Olympia for a statewide advocacy organization my boss at the time would occasionally deride (accurately) someone as “a one note samba.”  Often this would apply to people who were our allies. The term referred to a person or group that could not see the bigger picture and would hit the same note over and over again with legislators sometimes to their own detriment.

I have since gained a deep love and respect for both Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto who have changed my views about One Note Sambas.

But I think the latest row over House Bill 1490 between the Displacement Coalition and Futurewise could become dueling one note sambas.  On the one side is the never ending arguments the Displacement Coalition makes about not tearing down a single unit of existing housing and one for one replacement of each and every unit that is torn down.  John Fox, the leader of the coalition, has said, explicitly, that he thinks we should have a moratorium on growth.  His view is insupportable when we consider the realities of our future.

I think House Bill 1490, which would amend the Growth Management Act, is a good piece of legislation.  It is especially timely now that Sound Transit is coming on line.  But its reliance on climate change has been the focus of the debate.  Some have started gathering ammo to fight Fox’s assertions about whether the bill really reduces climate impacts or not.  Battling this kind of minutiae leads to either gridlock or simply sticking your fingers in your ears.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that climate change is one aspect of the importance of compact communities or–to use the dirty word–density.  One example is drainage.  All the data tells us that compact communities allow better drainage options that can reduce the impact the development has on our streams and Puget Sound.

So it would be nice (I realize it may be too late) to have included more elements about drainage in the bill, especially incentivizing alternative drainage schemes, swales and alternative methods of paving and sidewalks.

The legislation is good and should pass.  But I hope that we don’t damage the overall credibility of pro-growth arguments by becoming a ‘one note samba.’  Unless we’re talking about Jobim.

Transit Oriented Development in San Jose California

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What a great turnout last night for our official launch of the Streets for People campaign.  The official tally: we had about 175 people show up to find out what this new effort is all about.  Many thanks to the inspirational presentations from James Irwin about how to run a powerful campaign in the “age of Obama,” and to Renee Espiau from the Project for Public Spaces about how to reclaim our streets with creative approaches both grand and small. Read more

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posted on behalf of Great City Volunteer Cheryl dos Remedios

CALL TO ARTISTS, DESIGNERS & INVENTORS
aLIVe: a Low Impact Vehicle exhibition
Awards: Creativity & Vision, and People’s Choice Awards

Selection Process: Open to all artists, designers and inventors throughout the United States and Canada

Media: Functional mechanical prototypes, design drawings, or digital renderings of low-impact vehicles. Artwork in any media that uses metaphor to challenge our ideas about vehicles and transportation. Innovative safety gear and outerwear for LIV users. Products already widely marketed are not eligible.
The goal of this exhibition is to present new ideas. You are not required to have every detail resolved.

Registration Deadline: Friday, August 7, 2009

Exhibition Date: Saturday, August 22, 2009

Exhibition Location: Seward Park, Seattle, Washington, USA

OPPORTUNITY

Seattle Great City Initiative has already begun the work of educating the general public and elected officials about innovative transportation options through their “STREETS for PEOPLE” campaign. The purpose of this companion exhibition, aLIVe, is to launch the LIV Project, a multi-phase effort to re-think our transportation system.

aLIVe seeks existing prototypes or self-funded Low Impact Vehicle (LIV) projects for a one-day, outdoor exhibition at Seward Park in Seattle on August 22, 2009. Anyone can exhibit. Projects will not be reviewed in advance of the exhibition date, but the organizers request that Participants carefully adhere to the project goals and guidelines described in this Call.

This exhibition will take place in an urban park with a paved path so that exhibitors can both display and demonstrate their projects. Judges will present Creativity & Vision awards, and attendees will be asked to vote for People’s Choice awards. Artist-made trophies will be presented to the winners.

BACKGROUND

The multi-phase Low-Impact Vehicle (LIV) Project seeks to address the scale of our transportation system. Our built environment is increasingly defined by and designed around high-impact vehicles such as cars, trucks, semis, and even motorcycles. As the scale of our built environment has increased, so has its impact on our economic, environmental and cultural health. Vehicles must be designed to withstand high-speed collisions, which significantly increases their cost and the resources required to manufacture, operate and store them. They rely on fossil fuels, they pollute, and they require extensive transportation infrastructure and economic subsidies to be effective.

The LIV project is looking for new ways to reduce the impact of transportation on air and water quality, in terms of vehicular emissions and land use. Our hope is that by creating low-impact alternatives to existing modes of transportation, we can decrease our use of fossil fuels, reduce vehicular emissions, and prevent unchecked growth of the transportation network. In Seattle, for example, 40% of the city’s total land mass is used to move and store private vehicles on roadways and in parking lots, garages and alleys. Of that, 26% of Seattle’s land is in the public’s “right-of-way,” which is, with the exception of transit and freight, primarily given over to single occupancy vehicles. These paved surfaces contribute to climate change in several ways: they radiate heat; they eliminate portions of the tree canopy; and they increase storm water runoff, which is the largest source of pollutants flowing into Puget Sound, annually flushing 22,580 tons of oil and pollutants into its waters. A greater diversity of transportation options would allow us to re-examine land use both locally and nationally, which is key to improving air, climate and water quality.

How do we define a low-impact vehicle (LIV)? The simplest example of a LIV is a bicycle. Bicycles are designed to be easily propelled by the rider. They offer a low-cost alternative to cars, and they require fewer resources to manufacture, operate and store. They contribute minimally to pollution. For safety, a cyclist relies on specially designed protective gear, which also requires fewer resources to manufacture and purchase, and offers greater flexibility than features built into the vehicle itself. Bike-only or bike-friendly routes are typically also pedestrian-friendly, and do not adversely affect the air quality, tree canopy, or sensitive habitat areas.

In general, a LIV:

  • is designed around the human body.
  • has minimal impact in case of collision.
  • has a standard operating speed of 20 mph or less.
  • has a small carbon footprint to manufacture and operate.
  • has a small land-use footprint—it does not take up much space to drive or store.
  • promotes the use of mass transit by providing an effective way to complete trips (In Seattle, for example, Sound Transit light rail stations are being placed 2½ miles apart on a north/south grid—the perfect setup for a commuter solution that involves LIVs.)

What do we mean when we talk about designing LIVs around the human body? Research shows that humans are designed to travel at a top sprinting speed of 20 miles per hour. After that, the risk of fatality increases exponentially, which is why designing cars, trucks, semis and motorcycles to be on the road together consumes so many resources. Designing vehicles to run at lower speeds and creating specialized gear for user protection allows LIVs to have smaller footprints and to be lighter and easier to propel. A LIV could even be collapsible. Ultimately, the LIV project proposes we repurpose portions of the existing street grid for LIVs so they can be used safely. This will also reduce the amount of pavement needed, allowing us to reduce carbon emissions, reclaim space for the tree canopy, and preserve watersheds.

LIVs may encourage the use of alternative energies for propulsion and offer more human-powered options, for significant environmental and public health benefits. LIVs may also dovetail with the goals of green business development. The LIV project aims to foster the design of production systems that can be replicated across regions to stimulate the economy through locally sourced materials and the creation of local green jobs.

Right now, a bike is the only LIV that is permitted on our roadways. Not everyone can ride a bicycle, and most people can’t use a bike as their only form of transportation. We need more LIV options to make low-impact mobility available to all.

aLIVe focuses on new thinking about LIVs—what is possible when we design around the human body? For this exhibition, we’re asking artists, inventors and designers to create their vision of LIVable vehicles and LIVable communities that will enthrall, amaze, amuse and inspire.

As much as our transportation system is a physical reality, it’s also a metaphor for our way of life. As a culture, we’ve internalized the myth of freedom on our freeways and failed to recognize the economic burden and environmental damage incurred. We fail to see the inherent paradox of a “faster, safer” vehicle. Worse, subsidizing our vast transportation networks shifts resources away from the things most central to preserving our culture and way of life, such as education, health care and the arts.

To paraphrase the essayist Rebecca Solnit, as we risk losing our natural world to pavement, we also risk losing the world of our imagination. In Greek, “metaphor” means to travel, and as humans, we need to travel outside our immediate experience and out into the natural world to free our imaginations. If we only experience manmade environments, we begin to lose touch with our cultural language.

aLIVe aims to repurpose existing resources and redefine the basic unit by which we design our communities. aLIVe is a chance to begin establishing a vision for systemic change. Imagine LIVs driving down LIVable streets, where the right-of-way extends to children playing beneath a LIVing infrastructure of shade trees.
With LIV’s the opportunities for LIVable communities truly come aLIVe.

Please join us at aLIVe in Seattle on August 22, to show the world what the future of transportation looks like!

EXHIBITION GUIDELINES

The purpose of this exhibition is to present new ideas. Refined is good. Rough is good. Goofy is good. Pie-in-the-sky is good. To qualify for aLIVe, a LIV isn’t required to be a fully functional transportation solution—it may be a metaphorical invitation to change our thinking and explore other options. At its essence, a human body is aLIVe—so motion of all types is welcome—dance, poetry, music…

What can be exhibited?

  • Fully functional LIV prototypes
  • LIV works-in-progress
  • LIV design only
  • LIV metaphor-based art
  • Bicycles—but only if they are new or rare designs that are not widely marketed.
  • Outerwear to protect LIV users from weather and accidents – but again, only if it is an innovative, unusual design that is not already on the market. Fashionistas, hear our call!
  • What does not qualify as a LIV?

A vehicle that is designed around the traditional parameters—high speed, steel-to-steel collisions—is not a LIV, even if they are micro vehicles using alternative fuel sources. While these vehicles have benefits, they could still cause significant injury to a pedestrian. A motorized scooter is also not a LIV for the same reason, but mobility scooters probably would qualify, and push scooters are a LIV.

  • The Peraves Ecomobile is not a LIV, because it reaches a top speed of 202 mph.
  • The Mitka Trike is a LIV because in electric mode it is capable of 15 mph, and the rider can increase this speed slightly by pedaling.
  • The Venturi Eclectic is probably a LIV. It uses wind, solar and electric power. It has a top speed of 31 mph, but the driver could reduce this to 20 mph. The question is whether the bulk of the vehicle would harm a pedestrian during a crash.
  • The Buscycle ethos is definitely LIV: “redefining how we move as a culture.”


About the exhibition site

Located in south Seattle, Seward Park offers extraordinary views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. Along the water’s edge, a 2.4 mile path circumnavigates this 277-acre peninsula, providing an excellent demonstration space for aLIVe. Seward Park is composed of a range of habitats that include forests, savannas, grasslands, and lakeshore. The park includes a remarkable stand of old-growth forest, two active bald eagle nests, and a wide array of flora and fauna. Cultural facilities include the Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center, the Seward Park Clay Studio and an outdoor amphitheater. In the summer, there are lifeguards at the beach. This is a great place to take your summer vacation!

This exhibition will take place during the Healthy Parks/Healthy You event hosted by Seattle Parks & Recreation, which attracts about 500 people. There may also be a “Bicycle Saturday” happening, which would attract an additional 2,000 people. On Bicycle Days, the city closes four miles of Lake Washington Boulevard to vehicular traffic between Seward Park and Mt. Baker Park. The 2009 schedule will be set in the spring.

Participant Responsibilities

  • Participants are responsible for delivering their project to and from the exhibition, including all related costs, seen and unforeseen.
  • Participants should plan on demonstrating their project to the general public.
  • If a Participant wants to allow the general public to operate their LIV, they will need to secure liability insurance with Seattle Great City Initiative and the City of Seattle as additional insured. All decisions regarding insurance are the sole responsibility of the Participant.
  • Participants should focus their efforts on the free exchange of ideas. No salescan take place at the park, but your name and exhibit title will be printed on an exhibition brochure and your contact information will be included on our website.
  • Participants retain all intellectual property, including copyright.
  • Participants should be in attendance for the full day. More day-of-the-show information will be provided upon registration.
  • Participants should understand that this is a community-led project that requires peace, love and understanding.


Organizer Responsibilities

Organizers will promote the exhibition to the community and the press.

  • Organizers will include each Participant’s name and project title on the exhibition brochure with a corresponding number. This number will be printed on flags and given to the Participant, so that event-goers will be able to identify each project, even when the project is in motion.
  • Organizers will provide each Participant an opportunity to meet with a team of Judges. Awards for Creativity & Vision and People’s Choice will be presented at the end of the day.
  • Documentation of the exhibition will be hosted online, with a list of the Participants and their contact information. All images will be credited as follows: © Name, date of creation.


JUDGES

Jen Graves, Art Critic for The Stranger and adjunct faculty at Cornish College of the Arts

Lorna Jordan, Environmental Artist

Brice Maryman, Co-Founder of Open Space Seattle 2100, SvR Design Company

Buster Simpson, Environmental Artist, Activist

Jackie White, Environmental Steward, Seattle Art Museum


CURATORIAL ADVISORS

Sam Bower, Founding Director of greenmuseum.org, San Francisco

Heather Dwyer, 4Culture Program Manager, King County

Marisa Sánchez, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seattle Art Museum
PROJECT ADVISORS
Cath Brunner, 4Culture Public Art Director, King County

Nancy Rottle, University of Washington, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, University of Washington

Karen Tsao, Seattle Parks & Recreation

HOST ORGANIZATION

Seattle Great City Initiative
GOLD LEVEL SPONSOR

4 Culture

Anne McDuffie

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs

Seattle Parks & Recreation

* REGISTRATION *

Please register as early as possible. We will be promoting aLIVe on an ongoing basis, and we will add your name to our marketing materials as soon as you register.

You may register at Brown Paper Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/56264

There are several categories for registration. We ask that you self-select the category that best fits your situation. We’ve tried to keep the entry fees low for all Participants. We understand that it’s not easy in this economy and that there will be costs associated with developing a project, but please consider an additional donation if it’s within your range. All funds go towards the LIV Project.

DONATION:

This is a multi-phased project, and seeing it through from idea to implementation will require significant funding. If you’d like to be involved, but are not interested in exhibiting at aLIVe, please consider a donation of any amount. We will thank you personally and tell you how we plan to spend your donation, and we will acknowledge you in our exhibition brochure.

GOLD (SPONSOR): $250 and above

Registering at the Exhibition Sponsor level allows many opportunities for visibility. Please call the exhibition organizer to discuss promotional ideas. Registration includes 2 sets of flags for project identification (if needed), listing in exhibition brochure and your company’s contact information posted on our website. Some opportunities for in-kind donation are available.

Please consider sponsoring a project and/or providing a travel stipend for an exhibitor who must travel a significant distance to Seattle.

SILVER (PARTNER): $100 and above

Registering at the Exhibition Partner level tells the community that you support the LIV concept. Registration includes 2 sets of flags for project identification (if needed), listing in exhibition brochure and your company’s contact information posted on our website. Some opportunities for in-kind donation are available.

Please consider sponsoring a project and/or providing a travel stipend for an exhibitor who must travel a significant distance to Seattle.
BRONZE (ORGANIZATION): $45

Small businesses, non-profits and government agencies can register at the Organizational level.

Please plan to participate in the exhibition. Include your organization’s name and logo on your prototype or work-in-progress. Registration includes 2 sets of flags for project identification, listing in exhibition brochure and online contact information.

PARTICIPANT (INDIVIDUALS & TEAMS): $15

Self-funded projects should register at the Individual & Team level. Display a prototype or work-in-progress.

Registration includes 1 set of flags for project identification, listing in exhibition brochure and online contact information.

PARTICIPANT (CONCEPT): $15

Concept entries are welcome. Bring your notebook and your own chair.

Registration includes 1 set of flags for project identification, listing in exhibition brochure and online contact information.

PARTICIPANT (ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION): $15

We encourage participation from forward-thinking artists, designers and inventors. Please send your materials electronically, and these will be judged alongside other entries. Attendance not required.
VOLUNTEERS:
We will need volunteers to prepare for the exhibition and help us with the People’s Choice Award on August 22, 2009.

Registration includes official volunteer gear.

Questions? Please contact Cheryl dos Remédios, exhibition organizer at cheryldosremedios@gmail.com. This is a volunteer position, so please anticipate a response within 1-3 business days.

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Bikes on Caltrains (Liz Hafalia/SF Gate)

Bikes on Caltrains (Liz Hafalia/SF Gate)

This article about a recent win for bike commuters in San Francisco got me thinking, largely because of the image above, about how bike commuters will be supported when Sound Transit opens in July 2009. There are a number of ways that transit agencies have made accommodations for bicycles. However, this seems like a pretty efficient and effective way to move bikes on trains by using “gallery cars” that hold bikes exclusively.

I see a number of potential advantages to this, not the least of which is that the gallery cars are placed at a consistent location in the trains (usually last). But like minded bicyclists, in their gear, can ride together, not have to worry about getting grease on someone’s business suit and, if need be, squeeze together to make a bit more room. Plus, that open car–without bikes–is perfectly fine for passenger overflow.

Back to San Francisco where even with these gallery cars, there still wasn’t enough capacity on the trains:

“It’s very hard to plan your day when you don’t know whether you’ll get on the train. If I liked to gamble, I’d go to Vegas,” said Paul Schreiber, a software developer who commutes between the 22nd Street Station in San Francisco and both the Sunnyvale and Mountain View stations on the Peninsula. He said he gets bumped every week or two.

So, after much cajoling by the bicycle advocacy community to fix the problem, Caltrains is taking the following steps:

Under the new policy, the Bombardier cars, which now have rack space for 16 bikes, will be re-outfitted to carry 24. The older gallery cars, which now hold 32 bikes, will be reconfigured for 40.

With the change, the total available bike slots in the peak commute period will increase from the current average of 2,300 to 2,900, said Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn.

A total of 272 seats will be removed. The retrofit would cost about $200,000 and take eight to 12 weeks to complete. Harvey said he hopes work can start in April.

The board also set a goal of having two bike cars per train during the morning and evening commutes.

It seems like the culture and values of San Francisco and Seattle are similar, so I could see fairly heavy bicycle use in combination with light rail, especially in the urban areas. However, if Sound Transit repeats the policy it has for the Sound Commuter Trains then there would only be 2 spots per train. Which hardly seems like enough.

At a $200,000 premium to retrofit the trains, it seems like a needless expense if ST is planning their trains with proper bike storage now. So with Sound Transit ramping up for their big day in the sun, does anyone know how they are going to handle bikes?

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The answer in a moment.

One of the oft-repeated reason for not implementing green roofs amongst a certain cadre of individuals is that green roofs are “new” or “unproven” or “untested” or, best yet, “dangerous.” Then having established their newness and, therefore, their risk, we quickly surmise that it would be dangerous to build one.

To which, I say this:

Hogwash
Hogwash

As well documented in Green Roof: A Case Study, which exhaustively chronicles the design, construction and history of the retrofitted American Society of Landscape Architect’s Green Roof in Washington DC, green roofs have been around for at least a century in their modern form.

A Case Study
Green Roofs: A Case Study

And now to that riddle at the beginning. The answer comes from Edward Lifson’s excellent Chicago based blog The New Modernist where he post this, and in so doing, solves our mystery:

Lifson says, “A summer’s day on a grass-topped flat roof in Berlin, 1926. Entertainment comes from the valve radio, a novelty then. -Photographer anonymous

From Berlin: Portrait of a City – Taschen”

more of that please.

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