Sunday reading 6 November 2016

Hi and welcome back to Sunday Reading. Here is a collection of stories I found interesting over the week. Please add your links in the comments below. UN Habitat III in Quito came to a close a couple weeks ago. Here Michael Kimmelman describes the urban flavour and urgency of the conference that sits in stark contrast to Habitat I which largely focused on conventional environmentalism and improving the rural habitat- “The Kind of Thinking Cities Need“, The New York Times. What I sense is a worldwide sea change, a generational shift, rejecting the glum defeatist view towards cities and urban like that prevailed when Habitat first convened 40 years ago …

Postcard from Japan: Kamakura Day Trip

I’m back from my holiday now which means I can focus on writing posts again, including sharing more my trip. In this post I’ll cover a day trip we took to Kamakura, a seaside city south of Tokyo that is known for a number of festivals as well as Buddhist shrines and temples. The city is surrounded on three sides by some steep hills which help to make you feel like you’re in a very different location, despite not being all that far from Tokyo. We actually traveled there a day before our trip to Hakone that I’ve already written about. Kamakura is about 50km south of Tokyo by rail making …

The Big Smoke

The Big Smoke – putting New Zealand’s cities centre-stage  by Ben Schrader I wrote The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities, 1840-1920 because I’d long felt that New Zealand history, as taught and written, did not resonate with me. The history I learnt at school and university had emphasised the ‘rural myth’. This asserted that Pākehā had come to New Zealand to settle land alienated from Māori. Settlers would buy a parcel of forest or grassland, and then clear, fence and farm it. Alternatively, they could reside in towns, and provide goods and services – grocery, blacksmithing, stock and station supplies – to those on encircling farms. Cities only functioned, in …

Sunday reading 23 October 2016

Hi and welcome back to Sunday Reading. Here are the media highlights from the past couple weeks. Drop your recommendation in the comments section. Happy Labour Day weekend! New world cities must be kicking themselves for not building underground rapid transit when they had a chance. Here’s Seattle’s story when they were close to deciding on a comprehensive mass transit system in 1968, but instead decided to invest in “arterials and expressways”. Woops. Josh Cohen, “How Seattle blew its chance at a subway system“, Crosscut. Foward Thrust vision for transit was a 47-mile, 30-station rail rapid transit system with four lines running out of downtown to the corners of the city and across the …

Who’s carrying on the conversation? (2 of 2)

This is the second part of a two-part post looking at some of the people who are making a positive, evidence-based contribution to public discussions about policy. An active and well-informed public conversation about policy issues is a vital bulwark for representative democracy. The people who spend their own time contributing to it are awesome. Good work, folks. Hamilton Urban Blog Down the road a bit, Hamilton Urban Blog does a lot of good work digging into the details of Hamilton’s urban form and human geography. It’s a good example of a local perspective on places, often with some quite nice maps to illustrate the features of a place. Here’s …

Who’s carrying on the conversation? (1 of 2)

Last week, I wrote a piece explaining why I write for Transportblog and setting out some of the broader social goals that encourage us to spend unpaid volunteer time writing blog posts. An active and well-informed public conversation about policy issues is a vital bulwark for representative democracy – meaning that people have to participate in that conversation. We do our best to foster the public debate over transport and urban policy in New Zealand, and provide useful evidence as a basis for discussion. But we’re not the only ones having the conversation. As a follow-up, I want to highlight some other people that are also making a positive, evidence-based …

Why we blog

As delegates were leaving the American Constitutional Convention in 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”. Franklin replied: “A Republic, if you can keep it.” He meant that, while the delegates had recommended a set of principles for government, it was up to average citizens to make them work in practice. That meant – and still means – having citizens who are informed and active in public debates over what and how we should proceed as a society, rather than citizens who will passively accept being ruled. I believe in representative democracy. It isn’t a perfect system, but it’s better than …

Sunday reading 9 October 2016

Welcome back to Sunday Reading. Here is a collection of stories I found interesting over the week. Add your links in the comments section below. Here’s another study that quantifies the health benefits of cycling – “Bike lanes are a sound public health investment“, Fox News Health. Every $1,300 New York City invested in building bike lanes in 2015 provided benefits equivalent to one additional year of life at full health over the lifetime of all city residents, according to a new economic assessment. That’s a better return on investment than some direct health treatments, like dialysis, which costs $129,000 for one quality-adjusted life year, or QALY, said coauthor Dr. Babak …

Sunday reading 2 October 2016

Welcome back to Sunday reading. This week, we’re starting with an important article that all of our readers who work in the transport planning field should read in full and share with their colleagues. David Levinson (Transportist) writes about “Dogfooding: why transit employees and managers should use transit“: The term “dogfooding”, derived from “eating your own dog food”, is popular in the tech sector, and implies that a company should use its own products wherever it can. Thus, in general, Apple employees should have Macs on their desks rather than Windows machines, and Google employees should use Gmail. The advantages of this are several. Most importantly, bugs can be quickly …

Video of the week: How wind turbine blades are transported

Via How Things Work, here’s an interesting video of wind turbine blades being transported through challenging terrain: This is how wind turbine blades are transported in difficult terrain — How Things Work (@ThingsWork) September 21, 2016 Pretty remarkable how large the blades are relative to the trucks, and how careful the drivers are on some pretty challenging routes.