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Neal Peirce looks at how Philadelphia has used light to help transform the image, and fortunes, of Center City.

If you haven't been to Philadelphia recently, you may not be aware that Paris might have a new rival for its famous moniker. "America’s birthplace city," says Peirce, "now shines with an ingenious mix of lights designed to please and inspire residents and visitors alike. Center-city street lights have been rescaled for pedestrians’ pleasure and safety. Buildings and statuary along the grand Benjamin Franklin Parkway, stretching from City Hall to the Philadelphia Art Museum, are bathed in carefully crafted, state-of-the-art illumination."

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Today China officially unveiled the world’s longest high-speed rail line! The 2,298-kilometer (1,428-mile) railway connects Beijing in the north to Guangzhou in the south, and it more than halves the travel time between the two cities. Trains running on the new high-speed line hit 300 kph (186 mph), cutting the total journey time by more than 12 hours.

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The City of Lancaster, CA, converted a drab, automobile-oriented arterial at the heart of downtown into a lively pedestrian-friendly boulevard that has become a big regional draw and attracted significant economic development in just two years. In a dramatic demonstration of the value of smart streetscape investment at the right location, Lancaster spent $11.5 million for a nine-block makeover of Lancaster Boulevard. Five lanes of traffic, including a center turn lane, were reduced to two lanes, with a wide, tree-shaded, "ramblas," or public space, added in the center of the corridor. Trees and lighting fixtures were installed and on-street parking is provided. Street festivals have been held attracting crowds in the tens of thousands. Nearly $300 million in private investment has ensued, including 47 new businesses and more than 800 housing units built or rehabilitated. The lead urban design consultant was Moule & Polyzoides of Pasadena, CA. Better! Cities & Towns will cover this project in more detail in the January, 2013, issue.

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Cover of Ross Chapin’s book Pocket Neighborhoods

 

Ross Chapin recently presented his ideas on the concept of Pocket Neighborhoods at an Urban Times sponsored workshop in Asheville, North Carolina (USA).  The event, a collaborative venture organized by the Asheville Design Center, drew over 100 design professionals, planners, and members of the public, focused on Chapin’s ideas of creating a community designed around the forgotten concepts of neighborliness and well… community.  On his website, Chapin provides the following breakdown of pocket neighborhoods:

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Central Park
 

 

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by Sarah Burch

To the wobbly tune of a passing ice cream truck, a 12-year old girl slowly pedals her bicycle, weaving down a tree-lined street.  Every so often, she reaches into her basket to grab a folded newspaper, and tosses it onto the doorstep of each house on the block.  The houses are fronted by an expanse of perfectly manicured emerald lawn, a spacious garage, and a tree or two.  The girl’s father is just leaving work, and embarking on a 40 minute drive home.  Her mother is doing the week’s worth of grocery shopping at the sparkly new mall. 

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 By: Kaid Benfield

  

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The idea behind Bicycle City is that people can live, work, and play in a town where everything is accessible by just riding a bike (with parking is at the edge of the community.) Bicycle city was an idea conceived in the 90’s and was just recently started this past year after they received funding. The location for the first Bicycle city is Lexington County, SC, between mountains and a beach. The location is also only 12 miles away from the state capital so some of the necessary big city amenities will be within reach.

Bicycle city mentions that their idea of building a city without cars is not only good for the environment, but also good for people. They explain that vehical emissions are harmful for health. They also talk about how in big cities bicyclists and injured by cars and without this threat, biking to and from places will be much safer. People will also increase their endurance and burn calaires getting around the city and live an all around more healthy lifestyle. Children will be much safer in Bicycle City without the threat of speeding cars racing through the neighborhoods.

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Congratulations to the Region of Waterloo on its visionary plan to build a rapid transit system that will connect the three major urban centres of the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.

From the Region of Waterloo Website: "Rapid Transit will help manage urban growth by directing a greater share of new development to existing urban areas and promoting reurbanization. Intensification will make better use of our land, existing infrastructure and services"

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