Montgomery Bicycling (for all of us) Conference

Posted: by

The Montgomery Civic Federation is hosting a conference featuring planners, the Parks Department, County agencies, and bicycle advocates to discuss just what it will take to make Montgomery bike-friendly.

This is a BYOB (bring your own bike) event, so pedal on over and find out what policies and projects are being considered.

learning with legos at NBM

Posted: by

The ongoing Lego (R) exhibit, Towering Ambition, at the National Building Museum has some very cool models of famous buildings, but also provides a play area for kids and families.

More interesting than the models, however, are the prompts about land use and community planning hanging around and adorning the space where kids (and adults) can play with the Legos.

Rather than focus on cool buildings, like the exhibit, these prompts ask budding designers to think about places beyond the bounds of an individual building, to think like a town planner (and a rather progressive one at that).

Unfortunately the prompts still relegate land uses to separate building forms, but do suggest locating them near one another.

I think … Continue reading

MRO Garden Blooms Again

Posted: by

On the heels of an agriburbia post, we have our own little backyard food supply at park and planning–our vegetable garden is setting up for the season.

The crew of after-work-hours volunteers had already planted some cool weather crops–lettuces, radishes, celery–and moved some estaablished herbs to the stairway beds, but last night we planted in anticpation of warm weather–tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, squash, bush beans, and more chard! We’ve even managed to harvest already–last year’s chard and kale that wintered over–and we’ve found a few sweet, overlooked carrots.

This year, we’re putting flowers in the center, where it’s harder to harvest and we’re putting potatoes on our green roof  near Georgia Avenue, where we hope the cascade of vines will … Continue reading

Deco Bikes

Posted: by

Bike sharing is a natural for Miami Beach. Yup, even in a place where Lamborghinis jostle with Bentleys in the public parking lots, a bike is cool.

The island is flat, warm, laid out in a gridded street pattern, and partially ringed with off-road bike routes that pass by a marina, Government Cut, South Pointe Park, and the beach. If you live and work on the Beach, a $15.00 monthly Deco Bikes membership gets you unlimited access. If you’re a tourist, just swipe your credit card, choose a bike, and pedal off.

The docking stations are located all over the island, and I wonder if there will be an obvious pattern of use. In Montreal, Bixi bikes all go downhill … Continue reading

Oh Hi, Ohio

Posted: by

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a full day in Cleveland, Ohio. And I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, Cleveland is a pretty nice place.

I’d only ever passed through Cleveland on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited in the middle of the night. So I was unsure of what to expect, but my perceptions certainly focused on Cleveland as a rust belt city with some pretty serious environmental problems.

What I found was a city (and a region) facing a severe economic crisis, but one whose downtown and core neighborhoods cling to vibrancy. I was impressed with the urban form of Downtown, a district which has seen better days, but whose architecture … Continue reading

Gehry’s Back? What About His Front?

Posted: by

According to Witold Rybczynski in Slate, Gehry’s New World Symphony in Miami Beach proves he’s back. I’m not sure where he went, but the building is a well-detailed box that adds the civic-friendly option of turning itself inside out by broadcasting performances on the building to a lawn park.

This is bascially a programming decision as much as a design decision, as is the building’s interface with the the park and the way the park functions. Interface and progamming are a lot of what makes a place pleasing and interesting. So an empty lot in Silver Spring becomes a weekend market or a Miami warehouse becomes a Sunday afternoon hangout.

Gehry’s building is nicely detailed, but it’s … Continue reading

Keep on Truckin’–Just Do it Somewhere Else

Posted: by

Nordin Grabsi, who has been trying to run the Ali Baba Felafel truck at the Bethesda Farm Women’s Market, may finally have to shut down his popular stand. He is unable to meet County standards for a mobile food truck, but it also seems the County standards don’t recognize the growing and changing food truck business.

As one of the commenters on the Bethesda Patch site wrote, “I hate to see this happen, particularly since food carts are becoming more popular and interesting…”.

And this is not just a problem for Ali Baba, other food carts have also moved or shut down, just when things are getting interesting. And as well as possibly outdated regulations, there also seem to … Continue reading

Even the Best Laid Plans…

Posted: by

Rockville’s King Farm was designed as a transit friendly community, with a gridded street pattern lined by street fronting homes on small lots. So that’s the community part. Now that the transit part is coming along, the pull of suburban standards is proving strong.

In this article, A Community Planned for Transit Now Resists It,  residents are quoted as saying the transit line will create a wall within the community. But this is not the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and King Farm is not Union station.

Why do people never point out that waiting with your neighbor at a station in the morning is a great time to chat and get to know each other–much better than driving home in … Continue reading

Why Don’t People Take the Bus?

Posted: by

Transportation planners talk about mode share, trip mitigation, and relative arterial mobility all displayed in charts and graphs. But there is a human element to using transit. Why would you shower, dress, and walk down the hill to stand here while your neighbors whip past in their BMWs, warm, dry, singing along to Norah Jones, and a swigging a latte?

Montgomery County has a great local bus system, the Ride Ons, which course through neighborhoods connecting to central business districts, Metro, and regional buses. They are clean, relatively prompt, and reasonably priced. Seniors and students get a price break, increasing access, and some of the fleet is running on compressed natural gas, encouraging good green behavior.

But in a … Continue reading

Food Trucks Redux

Posted: by

The food truck phenomenon has reached Silver Spring, enlivening a paved corner of the downtown’s 100 percent intersection with the flavors of West Africa.

In previous posts, we talked about how cities are using the food truck movement to contribute street life to parking lots and to create low investment, diverse businesses. Chez Dikel, parked at the gas station at the corner of Colesville and Georgia, is dishing up delicious home cooking from Mali to repeat customers from the Discovery Building and other workers in the CBD (including the planning department).

The peppery Yassa Chicken is a special Malian dish, the spicy ginger water will cure the worst cold, and the homemade hot sauce will take care of any … Continue reading