Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pedestrians and Daylight Savings

from: Majors, Dan. "Pedestrians 3 times more likely to be killed when clocks change, study says," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 03 November 2007.

Two Carnegie Mellon University scientists are warning people that there's much more to daylight-saving time than just setting your clocks back an hour tonight.

You need to get your mind right.

Professors Paul Fischbeck and David Gerard have made a study of traffic fatalities that shows pedestrians walking during the evening rush hour are nearly three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars in the weeks after the fall time change.

The problem, they suspect, is that pedestrians and drivers have gotten used to more than six months of visibility during those hours and are slow to adapt to the danger of the darkness. . . .

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Pyschogeography" by Will Self

from: Higgins, Karrie. "'Psychogeography' by Will Self: Disentangling the Modern Conundrum of Psyche and Place," Los Angeles Times, 4 November 2007.

Self begins "Psychogeography" with a long "introduction" describing a walk he took from London to New York. That such a thing is impossible is part of the point entirely: The idea is to walk from his London home to Heathrow Airport before flying to JFK, where he will set out again, on foot, for Manhattan. Here, Self sets up the strategy of his book by giving a nod to Debord while at the same time mapping out his own psychogeographic territory.

His long walks neither emulate nor resemble the dérives of the Situationists, in part because he carries his usual purposes and motivations -- promoting a book, say, or attending a meeting. He has no intention to "outfox prescribed folkways," but he also delights in exploring true "Empty Quarters," those zones that lie outside urban boundaries and off the paved paths. For him, these are the true frontiers, the last places left to discover and explore. . . .

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A poet who walks and memorizes . . .

from: Kilen, Mike. "Bard's Dreams Channel Poetry," The Des Moines Register, 14 October 2007.

Joe Plum lives in the wooded hills of rural Monroe County in a home built from scraps without electricity or plumbing.

It's no environmental statement. Plum, 55, has never had indoor plumbing. A man asked him once if he lived "off the grid." Plum didn't know what that meant.

He wakes from dreams and walks into the woods, sometimes for hours, reciting and memorizing the poems that come to him in his sleep. . . .

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Walking the World

from: Graham, Tom. "Walking the World," San Francisco Chronicle, 18 December 2005.

Street walking -- called the oldest profession -- has somehow been transformed into an extreme sport. Ask Haight-Ashbury's Larry Burgheimer, who has walked every street in San Francisco. Or Jeff Ingram, whose street walk was "75 percent complete" at last check. I'm halfway there myself. And the Castro's Dinah Sanders says she's perambulated 15 percent of the city's streets.

Since starting my quest in 2002 to walk every street in San Francisco, I've heard from others who have done their hometowns, too: People around the world, from Amsterdam to New Zealand, are walking every street on the map . . .

Saturday, January 13, 2007

They're Talking the Walk

From: Groves, Martha. "They're talking the walk," Los Angeles Times, 13 January 2007:

Century City was envisioned in the 1960s as a bold experiment in urban planning — a sleek, efficient "second downtown" of high-rise office buildings where the car was king.

Now the district is the focus of a new urban experiment designed to undo the sort of auto-centric design that marked planning in Los Angeles for much of the last half-century. The vision — prompted by a looming boom in the construction of luxury condo towers — calls for a greener Century City that would be less about driving and more about walking.

Anticipating the arrival of potentially thousands of residents, a task force of property owners, developers and planners is dreaming of more open space, rows of stately trees and a pedestrian loop that would connect the new housing with the vastly expanded Westfield Century City shopping center, office towers and a growing number of restaurants and cultural amenities.

The effort, now in the most preliminary stage, would represent one of the most ambitious attempts to remake a section of Los Angeles into a place where people could get to shops, restaurants and even offices on foot. . . .

Monday, March 13, 2006

Factories are Essential

from: "Seeing Factories as Essential Parts: The shape of modern American cities may be changing as urban planners weigh the conflicting merits of housing versus industry." By Maria L. La Ganga and Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times, 13 March 2006

OAKLAND — One after another, they stepped to the lectern, pleading. Don't take the land, they told City Council members. Don't put houses on it. If we lose it, it's gone forever.

This wasn't a scene from some Central Valley agricultural town, with fecund acres being gobbled up at a rapid pace. This was a bustling urban enclave in late January, and the appeals came from anxious residents and business owners demanding that city officials protect factories, not farms.

"Many businesses, even small businesses like mine on a half an acre, give you 40 good jobs," Bob Tuck, owner of Atlas Heating and Air Conditioning Co., insisted at the packed hearing on Oakland's land-use policies. "If you pave over our business land, it's never going to give you another economic crop. Let's make sure that it doesn't become a residential zone."

Large tracts of land are increasingly hard to find in California's crowded cities. Freeways are more congested than ever. Elected officials and environmentalists are clamoring for developers to build new houses within existing urban boundaries instead of fostering more traffic and sprawl.

At the same time, California lost nearly 340,000 manufacturing jobs in the last five years, making some industrial zones look like remnants of a more vibrant age.

So what's a canny developer to do?

. . . .

Monday, December 19, 2005


A temporary urban park

One of the more critical issues facing outdoor urban human habitat is the increasing paucity of space for humans to rest, relax, or just do nothing.

For example, more than 70% of San Francisco's downtown outdoor space is dedicated to the private vehicle, while only a fraction of that space is allocated to the public realm.

Feeding the meter of a parking space enables one to rent precious downtown real estate, typically on a 1/2 hour to 2 hour basis. What is the range of possible occupancy activities for this short-term lease? (. . . .)