Food Trucks Expand Their Menus

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Food trucks are an urban trend that is hard to keep up with. Do they compete with or complement stationary businesses? Are they sufficiently regulated for health, safety, and welfare? Are they unsightly or exciting?

Well, they’ve morphed again. Real Food Farm trucks in Baltimore are bringing fresh produce to neighborhoods, and sometimes even to your door. On the one hand, it’s a service with a bit of social engineering–bringing good food to people who need it and connecting farmers to new markets.

But it is also an update of a Baltimore tradition of street peddlers, known as A-rabbers. Once again, the new urbanism updates the old urbanism.

High Line Part Two

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The second half of the High Line opened this summer and even though it’s a one-off, not likely to be funded in these straightened budget times or replicated in less dense environments, it’s still intersting to think about making parks out of places that are not traditionally green.

Enjoy the pictures.

 

Eco -logy meets eco -nomy: it all comes down to home.

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Excerpts from David Korten’s “Living Buildings, Living Economies, and a Living Future” from Yes! online, May 18, 2011:

“Integrating multi-purpose buildings into a larger multi-building neighborhood or district system adds opportunities to develop public green spaces, community gardens, edible landscaping, and small-scale poultry and livestock production, as well as natural wetlands and living machine water purification to continuously recycle nutrients, water, and energy.

Integrative projects also create opportunities to balance the utility loads of businesses, which generally have greater energy needs during the day, and residences, which have greater needs during nonbusiness hours. Bringing residences, employment, shopping, and recreation together in close proximity minimizes transportation requirements and facilitates the sharing of autos, bicycles, appliances, and tools, and community connections … Continue reading

Dangerous by Design

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No, not the bad boys your mother warned you about, but the streets you may (try to) walk along everyday.

Transportation for America’s latest report has plenty of media-catching data:

between 2000 and 2009 more than 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the United States, the equivalent of a jumbo jet crash every month in that same time period, a pedestrian was struck by a car or truck every 7 minutes while motorist deaths have dropped 27 percent in the past decade, pedestrian fatalities have fallen at only half that rate, by just over 14 percent.

But you won’t be surprised to hear that a scant fraction of federal transportation funding distributed to states for local projects is dedicated to pedestrian safety. … Continue reading

Bicycle Conference Follow-up

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guest post: David Anspacher

Last Saturday, the Montgomery County Civic Federation’s bicycle conference got representatives from various agencies together, including M-NCPPC, MCDOT, MDOT, MD SHA, and WMATA, to talk about their bicycle planning and implementation activities.

In the late morning, attendees  began developing an action plan for advancing bicycling in the County. There were lots of good ideas, many dealing with ways to reduce the speed of car traffic.

Francoise Carrier, Chair of the Planning Board, provided concluding remarks. She identified three ways that the Planning Board can work to improve bicycling:

through master planning, find opportunities to break up large blocks and expand the street grid, creating a network of low volume, low speed roads overlaid with  bike … Continue reading

Montgomery Bicycling (for all of us) Conference

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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