There’s no easier way to say it, and it’s always better to acknowledge that the problem exists than to ignore it. We are addicted to cars. We suffer from traffic, hate sitting in endless traffic jams, and get anxious looking for parking. Nonetheless, we can’t quit the habit of driving. And worst of all, we refuse to cure ourselves of this addiction, despite a proven way to recovery. More on that later.
Working as an urban planner can be quite costly, especially a self-employed one. The tools we use on a daily basis do not come cheap. Even if you just need the basics (ArcGIS, Sketchup Pro, and AutoCAD), you end up paying for them through the nose. This article is an effort to collect as many free tools for urban planners as possible, making it easy to explore what is out there.
Podcast is the new king. For those of you who seek to add some urbanism to their playlist, here is a list of podcasts, and podcast episodes, that are worth checking.
The Dutch National Railways (NS) is cooperating with SnappCar en Uber, hoping to reduce the use of private cars. At the time of writing, it is the European Mobility Week, and NS tries to promote more sustainable modes of transport. This campaign is an excellent opportunity to share some thoughts and concerns regarding the state of mobility sharing apps and initiatives in the Netherlands.
The Brixton Pound is a complementary currency. Its ten-pound note is graced with a photo of the late David Bowie who grew up in Brixton. Being generally fascinated by complementary currencies, I created an opportunity to visit Brixton and the Brixton pound when I traveled to London.
Have you ever thought why street elements feature mostly men? Pedestrian traffic lights show green and red men; traffic signs often display guys; streets are rarely named after women. Females, judging by prevalent street design, just don’t live in the city
How can we increase neighbourhood health by making use of open data? That was the main question last week when I participated in a weekend-long hackathon for health at Experiolab. Aiming to improve the public health of Kronoparken, a modernist neighbourhood in Karlstad, Sweden, we came together with a range of (local) experts and local citizens and went to work.
Having designed several outdoor fitness parks, I present here a few steps to create a successful outdoor gym. As an example, I take the case of the Oosterkade, a fitness Park in Groningen, the Netherlands. We have designed it this year, and it's been attracting many users every day, throughout the day. The lessons learned from creating this park can help you plan a better park in your city. So, let's move
Porto is a city with convenient transit, stretching river, sandy beach, pleasant summer, beautiful architecture, and abundant green space. An ideal vacation spot, the city has been attracting millions of tourists ever since tourism-driven development started to emerge within the past five years. However, a short stroll along Porto’s historic center would reveal a different story: many residential houses remain under-maintained and abandoned in the most desirable locations. While the city gains international popularity, its own residents do not seem to find home at the heart of Porto.
The French burkini ban is sold as a tool for safeguarding our bodily well-being and liberal freedoms, but it is exactly these kinds of extreme right policies that threaten our way of life.
Amsterdam, a city ranking high in sustainability indexes, is home to a new initiative: The TreeWiFi. The young startup behind the initiative has hung a bunch of birdhouses around the city that provide their surroundings with free wifi internet access. However, when air pollution around a treehouse exceeds a predefined limit, the internet access is turned on. The founder of the project hopes that these treehouses will reduce air pollution in the Dutch capital.
Urbanization, the growing share of people living in urban areas, is often used as an argument for tackling societal problems in an urban context (read: cities). Here in Sweden, for instance, 85% of the population is living in urban areas. And although Sweden has an exceptionally high urban population, high rates of urban dwellers are not uncommon, as globally more than half of the people live in urban areas.
There are many myths explaining why so many people in the Netherlands cycle. I have heard it all: from explanations relating to altitude and elevations (“The Netherlands is flat”) to analyses of the Dutch genetic form (“They are more suitable to cycling”). I’ve even heard that the Dutch prefer the bicycle over the car because they are so damn cheap.
Of course these stories are nonsense. The 21th century Dutch cycles because the Netherlands is home to great, complete and safe infrastructure. While other countries keep making the same excuses for not becoming a cycling heaven, the Dutch just build better infrastructure. And while some nations, like the Danes, successfully follow the Dutch model: providing safe paths for cyclists, others don’t quite do so.
We are proud to officially launch the Velotropolis website!
Velotropolis is a cycling knowledge base, brought to you from the world’s cycling capital - Groningen, the Netherlands.
Lately, I was asked to redesign a playground in Groningen, the Netherlands. It is located in a big green space in the heart of a quiet residential neighborhood, called De Hunze.
“Absurdity in the middle of the city. I have to overcome the distance of 20 meters, and it takes me more than 11 minutes”. That’s how Anna, a young woman from Warsaw, described on Facebook her last week’s experience. She uploaded a video showing how she tries to cross a street in the city. And it wasn't as easy as it should be.
Walking in Groningen city center last week, I saw two reckless boys throwing a ball above passing cars and cyclists. I stopped and shouted: “Are you crazy?! You can hurt someone! Stop it right now!”.
It is becoming some sort of tradition, the LVBLCITY list of urban/regional planning summer schools in Europe. Also this year, there are many interesting summer schools across the continent, and the deadlines of many of them are approaching. This list does not contain all the courses out there, but is rather a selection of courses that we at LVBLCITY find particularly interesting.
Urban and transport planners who are concerned with the negative environmental impact of travelling have been advocating for policies that achieve three basic goals: shortening travel distances, lowering travel frequency, and reducing car use. For example, by planning dense urban neighbourhoods with amenities within walking distance, the need for long car journeys is reduced. The question I asked in my research was whether these policy goals are relevant when it comes to an important activity which planners hardly pay attention to: staying in touch with family.
Samuel Brandt has studied the relationship between land use and transportation in Chicago, England, Uruguay, and now in his native Oregon. This article is a follow-up on a previous contribution to our blog. You can follow him on Twitter: @samtbrandt (Cover picture by: Bjaglin)
In the study tours I give in Groningen, the Netherlands, I always make sure to stop at a certain neighborhood that every urbanist can appreciate. The neighborhood in question is called Hortusbuurt, located right outside the historical city center, and dates back to the 17th century. The reason I like showing the neighborhood is mainly because of the variety of woonerven it accommodates. What are woonerven you ask? The following post is a short description of the concept, history and critique.
Weeks before the general capitulation of Germany on 8 May 1945, Canadian forces entered and liberated the eastern and northern parts of the Netherlands from the German forces. One of the liberated cities was Groningen, after the Canadiens defeated the Nazi forces during the Battle of Groningen between April 13 and 16, 1945. The Canadians must have a warm place in Groningen's heart.
We would like to share with you a project we’ve been working on during the past few weeks. It’s called How would you like to move? (Hoe Wil Jij Bewegen? in Dutch), and it aims at inspiring locals to sport (more) in the public space, as well as to get feedback from them about how they are using the public space of the city to sport. How Would You Like to Move? is part of Groningen municipality’s bigger project: The Moving City (De Bewegende Stad). The project objective is to make Groningen a better place to be active in, both by physical interventions and communication.
Housing prices in Stockholm are going through the roof. Only the last year alone the average prices went up 13%. It seems like the Swedish government has made it a sport to let prices rise as fast as possible. So, now you can have your own housing bubble! Just follow these ten simple steps, and you'll have the real estate value you always dreamed of in no time.
The practice of placing benches without any intention of people sitting on them, in order to deflect attention from unfriendly elements in the environment.
Just a few days ago I read on SvD (one of Sweden’s major newspapers) that the queue for social rental housing is growing fast. I have often written on this blog about the housing shortage in the Swedish capital, but reading the numbers always makes me a bit dizzy. Since the beginning of this year the queue has grown with 30,000 people, which means that now over half a million people are in search of an apartment.
It all started in the beginning of 2014, when the news about Hamburg planning to make its centre car free started to appear online. Sadly, I read the other day on Streetfilms that Hamburg has actually never declared a car-free city center. That’s a bummer, because I hoped was sure they really plan to do it and I thought it’s a great idea. Apparently the city issued a statement a couple of weeks after the rumors had started, claiming that they don’t have any plans to do so, but even that didn’t stop honored media outlets, like the BBC, to keep publishing stories about the fabulous future of the 2nd largest city in Germany.
No longer am I the king of the road. No longer is my right of passage evident. No longer is the world planned around my needs. And this frustrates me. Moving from the Netherlands to Sweden, the only real culture shock seems to be in the road. No one is allowed on the back of my bicycle, cycling next to each other is considered to be wrong, and one way streets do not make exceptions for cyclists.
During an Art Brut concert in Tel Aviv in 2010, the band’s lead singer Eddie Argos explained why he wrote the song “The Passenger”. He was disappointed to discover that Iggy Pop’s The Passenger is not really about riding the train, but “embodying the nomadic spirit of the punk outcast”. So Argos wrote his own version of The Passenger as a real love song for public transit: “Some people hate the bus / Not me, I can’t get enough … I love public transportation!”. Well, it’s not exactly Shakespeare or Dante, but at least the song is straightforward. Argos loves public transportation, so do I.
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