Posts filed under ‘Urban Planning’

Pod cars, ftw!

Not long ago I wrote about the city of the future, which included the idea of “pod cars” which were basically small electric cars that I felt were one of the best new ideas in transportation.  Without repeating myself too much, I believe they allow for the feeling of owning and controlling personal trasnportation that I know a lot of older people feel is almost a human right, but they also provide a very specific service.  They allow for an alternative when making short urban trips, which comprise a large percentage of total trips made in this country.

Well, leave it to Europe to beat us to the punch in implementation.  The Guardian has this article detailing Paris’s plans to have a pod car system.  It’s only a matter of time now…


June 24, 2008 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

Wishful thinking?

I always love a good plan for a future city, especially one with pretty graphics like this one

The good news about the components of this plan is that it’s a good place to start thinking about how urban areas will be organized in the future.  While algae ponds and vertical farms might be a little far-fetched, the ideas of short-term-use cars and new high-tech forms of mass transit are things that leaders should start looking at and implementing yesterday.  I really love the idea of a pod car beacuse it allows people to maintain that feeling of being in control of their transportation, but it limits that use to a certain area, more specifically the area that we travel the most, which usually includes short trips to shopping, dining, nightlife, or work.

While a lot of these ideas are almost sci-fi in nature, there are many things here that are great for the urban area of today.  Car pods (lol, a boy can hope), rainwater collection, wide use of solar energy, and focused and efficient mass transit are all things all cities (large and small) should be looking at right now. 

June 15, 2008 at 9:33 pm 2 comments

My latest Letter to the Editor

Next time you’re filling up your gas tank, shedding tears over the rising prices, try to think about who is really to blame for your empty wallet. Gas companies, federal officials, or overseas suppliers can be easy targets, and glamorous ones in the media, but they aren’t the ones to point fingers at.

The fingers should be pointed back at ourselves, the consumers, who despite what we’re paying for gasoline, still continue to buy it. What reason do gas companies have to lower prices when we’re just as happy to pay 4 dollars as opposed to 2 or 3?

Next, point the finger at your county government, which can’t seem to understand that development further from centers of population means one thing: more driving.

Give kudos to your city government, which at least created a buzz around the benefits of moving closer to the city center (Lower Town, Fountain Ave). Don’t praise them too much, though, because they’ve failed miserably at providing adequate public transportation and bike lanes.

Here’s the solution: we all have got to start demanding alternatives to driving, and our local officials have to start offering them. Citizens must demand an adequate and convenient bus system that would combine resources from city and county governments. We must demand bike lanes on all major roads. We must not vote for any official that will not promise these things and work hard to deliver them.

More than anything we must change ourselves and stop allowing new development that stretches further into the county. There should be a mass migration to denser areas of the city, where jobs and residence are located closer together and mass transit is available and convenient.

May 28, 2008 at 10:33 pm 1 comment

Creating another world.

New York Magazine’s Entertainment section had a great article this Friday about Grand Theft Auto 4’s creation of ridiculous replica of New York City.

Rockstar Games’ Dan Houser on Grand Theft Auto IV and Digitally Degentrifying New York

This article is especially appealing to me as a student of urban planning and design. In the same way the SimCity line of games allowed for a god-like creation and management of cities (and became a major reason why I became interested in the field), GTA 4 actually lets you live and interact with a city that’s almost as real as it gets without actually going there.

Google Earth/Maps allows us to look in on real cities (with much similarity to the perspective of SimCity), and while those still shots from outer space can give planners and curious citizens unique looks into their surroundings, the technology in GTA 4 could easily be transported to modelling cities and being able to “live” in them to understand exactly how a planning decision will affect how the city behaves and how it’s used. Seeing new development in a first-person real context would be a huge leap for the field.

A lot of decisions in the planning field have impacted people (especially the poor) in negative ways. Maybe this technology can finally allow planners to see the problems that could be caused, and allow residents to see the positives that new development might bring.

May 4, 2008 at 4:56 pm Leave a comment