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Krispy Kreme, Body Burdens, Complete Streets and a Map of the Neighborhood: A Round-Up
Alex Steffen, 10 Jun 07
Article Photo

Going on a Diet, Working at Krispy Kreme

Newsflash! Sprawl drowns polar bears! More concretely, sprawl makes it hard to hit climate targets, as Eric de Place notes:

Building new road capacity in lightly developed areas is like begging for sprawl -- and that directly undermines our attempts to put the brakes on greenhouse gases. It's a bit like promising to go on a diet and then taking a job at Krispy Kreme.

We've known for quite some time that land use planning has a profound impact on transportation, energy use and other aspects of our ecological footprints. Mixed-use density is one of the best levers for creating urban sustainability.

What will that density look like? Well, it can come in many different forms: check out this awesome Lincoln Institute field guide to density (free reg required), which shows that there are a multitude of lifestyles which good planning can accommodate. Just because we're not living in McMansions doesn't mean we're crammed like rats in a cage. Dense urban living and the good life rhyme.

Your body is a Temple

When we think of the horrific ecological legacies the 20th Century left behind it, we tend to focus on the ones that are big and easy to see -- the snows of Kilimanjaro melting, Indonesian rainforests burning -- but we're learning that some of the most disturbing legacies are hidden, and slow to emerge.

We've written before about the concept of body burden -- the toxic load each of us carries in our bodies. We've written as well about Chernobyl and the symbol it offers for all the invisible ways in which yesterday's technologies imperil us today.

But the news continues to worsen: common chemicals are dangerous to newborn babies, a giant lake of oil and chemicals swishes around beneath Brooklyn, and so on. The bittersweet news is that we're increasingly aware of the impacts of common chemicals. Watchdog groups are gaining a mainstream hearing. New protocols, like the precautionary principle are emerging. But progress is slow.

What is seriously needed is a crash course of research on green chemistry and biomimicry. Thankfully, the field is actually maturing.

How to: Make a Bike-Friendly City

Ally Alan Durning lays it out:

Bike friendly means a complete, continuous, interconnected network of named bicycle roads or "tracks," each marked and lit, each governed by traffic signs and signals of its own. It means a parallel network interlaced with the other urban grids: the transit grid on road or rail; the street grid for cars, trucks, and taxis; and the sidewalk grid for pedestrians. It means separation from those grids: to be useful for everyone from eight year olds to eighty year olds, bikeways on large roads must be physically curbed, fenced, or graded away from both traffic and walkers. (On smaller, neighborhood streets, where bikes and cars do mingle, bike friendly means calming traffic with speed humps, circles, and curb bubbles.) Picture a street more than half of which is reserved for people on foot, bikes, buses, or rail; on which traffic signals and signs, street design, and landscaping all conspire to treat bicycles as the equals of automobiles. This is what bike friendly—what Bicycle Respect—looks like.

Such complete streets are all the rage, and for good reason: the ecological, health and public expenditure benefits of making comfy, safe, smart bike-paths and sidewalks make them a no-brainer trump over new road construction. Check Davis

Know the Neighborhood

Here's a map of the immediate hood, seen from the proper perspective.

stars.jpg

Given how hard it is to wrap the mind around the size of a lightyear, this is a hard one to grasp, but these maps give us some perspective -- however challenged -- of the size of our galactic neighborhood.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

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