I don’t frequent bicycle advocacy blogs often, but this is the best “about us” page I’ve read. It captures the whole issue succinctly, including links to articles on mentioned topics.
The Urban Country's mission is simple. We publish 2-3 quality articles per week to advocate for using bicycles as transportation in North America to improve our cities, our people, and the world.
The Urban Country has been in the Guardian UK Bike Blog, National Public Radio, the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, Seattle’s The Stranger, The Daily Beast and is frequently featured on Treehugger.com.
The Urban Country began in Canada in 2004 as a personal blog for James Schwartz. The term "urban country" stems from the fact that Canada is a country of vast land with the majority of its population concentrated in urban centres.
The median distance Canadians traveled to work in 2006 was 7.6km — hardly a difficult distance to ride. In the United States, 49% of all trips are shorter than 5km, 40% are shorter than 3km, and 28% are shorter than1.6km — trips that could easily be made by bicycle.
When it comes to bicycling gear, companies market their products to convince you that this gear is necessary. We believe that urban bicycling can be done comfortably in regular clothes — especially if you invest in a bike that makes the ride comfortable — even through the winter.
Helmets are not the silver bullet to bicycling safety. There is nothing wrong with choosing to wear helmets on a bicycle, but we don’t think they are warranted for urban transportation, and we are against mandatory helmet legislation.
If bicycling is dangerous on some streets in some cities, we prefer to get to the root cause of the problem rather than implementing a helmet law or other “band-aid” solutions that are designed to shift blame and ignore the root cause.
If you have content to contribute to the site (links, articles, studies), feel free to get in touch with us on our Contact Us page.
As shown in the photograph —the cover of the San Francisco Call—, thousands of protesters in 1896 (100,000 people, according to the newspaper, this is critical mass — gathered to protest against the invasion of an appliance at that time was beginning to gain prominence in the street, the private car. Market Street, the main artery of the Californian city and currently under review, was suffering from the growing excesses to make room for the car and demonstrators demanded to turn the street to its previous design.
This might be undoubtedly one of the very first protests in favor of the bike and one of the first signs of social awareness of the massive influx of private vehicles on the streets. All background information can be found in The Great Bicycle Protest of 1896. A good story, no doubt.
The protest was not directed against the car as a priority, indeed. The aim was to defend the role of the bicycle as a vehicle for progress, once in the second half of the nineteenth century American cities discovered this “new” way for transportation and quickly became popular.This rise had to gain a foothold among other modes of transport prior to the generalization of the car, such as carriages, cable cars and trams. The Good Roads movement wanted to dignify the streets and allow the increasingly diverse ways that were occupying it. The march tried to lobby against new rules seeking to corner the bike, as its wide presence was beginning to generate problems of coexistence due to its high level of use.
Stemming from dissatisfaction of the current state of San Diego Critical Mass, Penelope Robles decided to start “Courteous Mass”.
This is a bicycle protest to show San Diego that bikes can share the roads and have the same right to be on the road. This is NOT Critical Mass, this is NOT a race, we will ride in a group and stay together by communicating with each other. Be ready to signal when you turn, stop at red lights to regroup and be polite. If we do stop traffic please wave in gratitude that they are being patient, if close enough say “Thank You” Let’s show SD that there are bikes out there that want respect and can dish it out. SD prove me right and let’s see if we can out number Critical Mass by killing cars with kindness.
Leaving the Fountain (Balboa Park) at 8pm on Friday, August 12th. If all goes well this will repeat every second Friday of the Month.
Good idea.. maybe.
I totally understand all the gripes about SD CM, but “Courteous Mass”???
fuck that. I am a very courteous individual. I am a courteous cyclist, except for situations in which cars fuck up traffic so bad I have to switch gears to “aggressive” to get out of traffic and reclaim a little space on the road.
How often are auto drivers courteous? huh? Tell me that.
my thoughts exactly.
Courteous Mass just sounds like a nice, friendly bike ride through San Diego. Which you could do anytime with friends. Not a “protest” at all.
counterpoint: courteous cyclists can influence drivers to be more courteous. Probably unlikely. Hard to change drivers’ attitudes towards cyclists/cycling until they themselves get on a bike and try navigating San Diego’s roads filled with frustratingly atrocious drivers.
My idea: BIKE PARTY.
I’m super jealous of the monthly East Bay Bike Party (see July’s EBBP info).
They do what Ms. Courteous wants on her rides. and even more. Not only “courteous”, it’s a party. Routes are planned, test-ridden. Volunteers meet with the leaders to find out their corner post on which they’ll let riders know where to turn. People bring sound systems. There are a good number of stops. At the final stop, at a parking lot usually, the big dance party breaks out. Then people head to a bar to meet other riders and chat before riding back. Also, there’s a theme to each ride, so many people dress up, and it ups the fun factor!
I really want to start this in San Diego. But in my current condition I cannot. I am also not so familiar with San Diego’s streets on a bike. I dunno. Maybe in a few more months or after I graduate and I make friends with the guys at Mission Hill Bike Shop so I can get some help organizing and planning routes.
August East Bay Bike Party is themed “DINOSAUR ATTACK!” I’ve invited my mom again, of course. :]
Scrap metal and wood were used to build the shade structures and a wide assortment of plastic bottles, and recycled materials were cut up and used to build the overhead shade. Nash also drew a lot of inspiration by repeating patterns he found around the city, so the recycled bottles were arranged in similar patterns. The local craft designers drew on their knowledge and experience to shape and build the shade structures. After the festival (the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in Zimbabwe), the shade structures were expected to remain as permanent installations around the central business district.
The plan, once realized, calls for more than 10,000 new housing units, about a third of which will be offered at below market rates to help ensure socioeconomic diversity of the new community. One million square feet of retail space, nearly three million square feet of commercial space, facilities for artists and performers, and 336 acres of parks and green space are all contained in the redevelopment plans.
but—I really hope they don’t skimp on the units of affordable housing. or else where would low-income groups move to? what with the Tenderloin looking trendifying.. “Gentrification” with nice shops, cool buildings, and all that is not bad. Just need the place to remain in reach for all kinds of people.
ah! so this is what they’re doing! (I’ve passed by and noticed all the construction work, but didn’t know exactly what this project is.)
A new waterfront park with “a waterfront bridge and path for cyclists and pedestrians”!! :DDDD
Oakland is overhauling 12th Street to improve waterfront access for pedestrians and cyclists as part of a long-running project that’s also designed to enhance Lake Merritt’s water quality.
baycitizen, 27.07.11. Demolition Project Should Reduce Odor from Lake Merritt, 14.06.11.
and Lake Merritt is actually not a lake—it’s a lagoon! didn’t know that.
Glad that Oakland is working on this project! getting stuff done! and a complete cycle track around the lake! and new bridge that should make it bike-accessible, too, to the east side. So my mom (and other [recreational] cyclists) doesn’t have to do what she’s currently doing: bike to a point along the lake where the bike lanes end, and then turn around. sadface. But yeah, when this project is completed: :DDDD
This is right by Laney College; viewable from the Lakeside/Oak freeway exit north into Oakland.
photos by eric n., who’s been diligently taking pictures of the work from a nearby apartment building and documenting the progress on his blog.
The Periscope Project is a hip new shipping container art space that sits on a tiny lot in downtown San Diego. Built with 5 recycled shipping containers, the collective includes space for live/work units, a store front, exhibition space and a common courtyard that provides performance space. Originally started back in 2007 by the late Petar Perisi and designed by ENS_Projects, The Periscope Project regularly holds openings, discussions and workshops to progress experiments in alternative development, public education, and cultural practices.
GYAHH!! This has been open for over a year already?? and I didn’t know about it ‘til now??!! *supermad-omgwtf-face* (and maybe I should have followed architizer, despite not being a huge architecture/design freak.. in case they post something local..)
This weekend: going Downtown to explore this, and then buying my tickets for a couple september shows (Ladytron, Grouplove + two door cinema club, Chromeo) at House of Blues. after writing and turning in my term paper on saturday.. x/
**double-gyahh! I hate it when writers/bloggers dub something as “hip”. >___<;;;;;
This weekend Inhabitat rushed to the opening weekend of Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market, a joint venture between specialty market developers Urban Space and designers Youngwoo and Associates. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of the market, which is built from discarded shipping containers (<—wtfeezy??!! This actually started in San Diego?? *should have followed architizer..*) since March. It has brought together local entrepreneurs into not just a market, but an outdoor community center that showcases Brooklyn’s current economy and culture, while hinting at its heritage as a major manufacturing center and commercial port.
The six bicyclists racing a JetBlue flight from Burbank to Long Beach Saturday proved the power of the pedals, beating the flight by a long shot. The cyclists, members of the urban bicyclist organization Wolfpack Hustle, made the trip in 1 hour and 34 minutes, using the path along the Los Angeles River for most of the trek.
The cyclists and a blogger aboard the JetBlue flight left at 10:50 a.m. from the same intersection in North Hollywood — with the blogger having to drive to the airport, arriving an hour before the 12:20 p.m. flight, then catching a ride to the aquarium in Long Beach, the finish line. The plane had just taken off when the cyclists arrived.
The cyclists had boldly predicted victory earlier Saturday morning. Joe Anthony, 33, who took the JetBlue flight, said the race was meant to show “how feasible cycling is in L.A.,” And, he said, “maybe how ridiculous it is to fly 40 miles.”
Reading the headline, I expected the race to start when the plane took off. Was disappointed that they gave the blogger guy / the cyclists an hour before takeoff. It does make sense, though, because that’s required “travel time” as well. But flight time: 45mins. Cycling time: 1h34. Which is not bad..
Except also: “The cyclists are members of Wolfpack Hustle, a bicycling club whose members ride 50 to 70 miles every Monday, leaving from Tang’s Donut in Silver Lake.”
38.4 miles is almost as long as the route I cycled with San Diego Critical Mass in late May. It took double the amount of time these cyclists took in LA (even excluding the “circle” stops and Gaslamp traffic, probably).
Obviously not a ride for casual cyclists. xP
But hurray for positive media coverage of cycling in LA?
A plan to downsize the expansion of Interstate 5 in San Diego has freed up money to spend on walking, biking and rail transit. The Board of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) made it official today when they approve a redistribution of $800 million in transportation funds.
The savings resulted from a decision by CALTRANS to expand I-5 by only four lanes. SANDAG had originally budgeted for a six-lane expansion. The $800 million in savings will be divided among three transportation programs in SANDAG’s 40-year Regional Transportation Plan.
The “Safe Routes to Transit” program will receive an extra $200 million, bringing its total funding to $700 million. Much of the money will go to create safe biking and pedestrian routes.
The remaining $600 million in redistributed money will go to smart-growth developments and rail-grade separation. […]
The modification of the I-5 expansion will also allow SANDAG to expedite some transit projects. The first phase of the mid-city, light-rail line, which will run from downtown to San Diego State along El Cajon Blvd, will move up from 2050 to 2035.
The train collision is one of several high-profile public transportation accidents in China recently. Early Friday morning, 41 people were killed when an overloaded bus caught fire in central Henan Province. Earlier this month, an escalator at a new subway station in Beijing collapsed, killing one person and injuring 28. Last week alone, four bridges collapsed in various Chinese cities.
Contrast to how things are built in the US and Germany. Infinite safety concerns; takes the longest time to get built. But at least we don’t have bridges collapsing.
Fears that transparency and safety have become secondary to other concerns was present in many Weibo (Chinese Twitter) postings on Sunday. One blogger in particular posted an eloquent appeal for more care and caution in China’s rapid development: “China, please stop your flying pace, wait for your people, wait for your soul, wait for your morality, wait for your conscience! Don’t let the train run out off track, don’t let the bridges collapse, don’t let the roads become traps, don’t let houses become ruins. Walk slowly, allowing every life to have freedom and dignity. No one should be left behind by our era.”
Fourteen million Americans remain out of work, a waste of our greatest resource. The 42nd president has more than a dozen ideas on how to attack the jobs crisis.
4. COPY THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
Just look at the Empire State Building—I can see it from my office window. Our climate-change people worked on their retrofit project. They cleared off a whole floor for a small factory to change the heating and air conditioning, put in new lighting and insulation, and cut energy-efficient glass for the windows. Johnson Controls, the energy-service company overseeing the project, guaranteed the building owners their electricity usage would go down 38 percent—a massive saving, which will enable the costs of the retrofits to be recovered through lower utility bills in less than five years. Meanwhile, the project created hundreds of jobs and cut greenhouse-gas emissions substantially. We could put a million people to work retrofitting buildings all over America.
8. PAINT ’EM WHITE
Look at the tar roofs covering millions of American buildings. They absorb huge amounts of heat when it’s hot. And they require more air conditioning to cool the rooms. Mayor Bloomberg started a program to hire and train young people to paint New York’s roofs white. A big percentage of the kids have been able to parlay this simple work into higher-skilled training programs or energy-related retrofit jobs. (And, believe it or not, painting the roof white can lower the electricity use by 20 percent on a hot day!)
Every black roof in New York should be white; every roof in Chicago should be white; every roof in Little Rock should be white. Every flat tar-surface roof anywhere! In most of these places you could recover the cost of the paint and the labor in a week. It’s the quickest, cheapest thing you can do. In the current environment it’s been difficult for the mayors to get what is otherwise a piddling amount of money to do it everywhere. Yet lowering the utility bill in every apartment house 10 to 20 percent frees cash that can be spent to increase economic growth.
Bill Clinton. newsweek, 19.06.11. This Is Why We’re Hot: Sun-Absorbing Black Roofs Need a Coat of White Paint. good.is, 22.07.11. (via)
This stream used to be buried underneath the city of Seoul until it was uncovered and transformed into a lush green park as part of the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project. Since 2003, the new park has been like a major life-force for the center of the city, helping reduce temperatures and bridging the gap between the north and south of the metropolis. The 5.6 km park is encouraging new activity and recreation and is even home to an array of new insects, fish and other wildlife.
Wunderland Kalkar in Germany
If you’re looking for a bit more excitement in your park, check out the Wunderland Kalkar in Germany — an abandoned nuclear plant that has been transformed into an amusement park. The plant was never actually in operation, so have no fear of radiation — but rather than tearing it down, they transformed it into a park that draws hundreds of thousands of people every year.
one of my friends is studying abroard in seoul for the summer. Hope she pays this daylighted river park a visit.
..now whenever I hear of someone traveling someplace, I always have some place or thing to tell them about. Another friend earlier was thinking of spending a semester in Australia, in Brisbane, and I proceeded to tell him all about the obscenely cool BRT (bus rapid transit) there. yay~ international studies/urban planning!
Sunday, July 24, 2011, 10:45 AM Adams Ave. Bicycles 2606 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA
Summer is finally here in San Diego, so we figured it was time to pull one of the events we’ve been batting around out of Moth Balls. With the beaches being over run by cars what better and more mellow way to get to beach than by bike with some friends. So load up you bike, your panier bags, and bicycle trailers with lunch, beverages, and games for the beach. Ride will meet up at Adams Avenue Bike shop around 1030 am for last minute prep and will leave promptly at 11am to ride down to the Bay Side of South Mission Beach. Event will last until the majority of everyone has had enough sun, meatball sandwiches, music, swimming and ultimate frisbee! So bust out your sun screen, pack a lunch and your inner tube and bring a friend or two. Heck, Hans might even do a little man-scapping for this one and tame the German Beast!! ah, ah, ha! Hope to see ya’ll there! —Jeremy
The Regional City by Peter Calthorpe and William Fulton, 2001.
Got this in the mail today. Required reading for one of two summer session.2 classes I’m taking next month: Land-Use Planning.
Excited to start reading this, but I’ve got 5/6 of a textbook and an entire one to read, a term paper to start on, and a final for my Urban Politics class first. All to do this last week of July.. oof.
On Saturday, the Bureau of Transportation installed new signage and infrastructure on SW Ankeny and officially made it carfree from SW 2nd to SW 3rd Avenues.
"Do Not Enter" signs are posted at each corner and a bike corral has been installed on the east end of the closure (at SW 2nd).
PBOT and the businesses have set this Thursday, July 21st, as the official grand opening. Adding to the festivities on Thursday, Portland Afoot, the awesome news zine and wiki about low-car life, is celebrating its first birthday. Stop by Valentine’s (232 SW Ankeny) from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for food, drinks, and “great conversation with fellow transportation aficionados.” (fb event pg)
Yay! Portland’s first(??) pedestrian street! It’s a tiny segment compared to regular blocks; feels kind of like an alley, but hey! If this becomes successful, more streets may later be pedestrianized!
Looking forward to walking in this part of town again. and… VOODOO DOUGHNUTS (this Downtown location) will be open (newly renovated)!!
Do Not Enter signs now stand at each end of the block. I think “No Motor Vehicles” would make for a more welcoming sign.
I think so, too. Something similar to European pedestrian street signs would be more friendly. below: Pedestrian street sign in Malmö, Sweden. "motor vehicle traffic forbidden from 11am–5am" (pretty sure Swedes use the 24h clock..)
brief cost-benefit analysis of transport in San Diego
Please calculate the number of miles you commute by automobile in an average week, if any, and then look at San Diego’s MTS website to determine whether you could use public transportation instead. Perform a brief cost-benefit analysis (in time and money) of your personal transportation habits.
just finished this short optional assignment for my Urban Politics class. Thought it’d be good to post it on here, too; maybe some of you will find it insightful to calculate your own (but more exact, and perhaps carbon footprint, too).
My hometown is in the SF Bay Area, where there exist decent public transportation and my mother, who can/is willing to drive me anywhere within 30 minutes’ distance, except to San Francisco. So, I never bothered to buy my own car, though I can drive, and also despite having moved to San Diego where it is significantly more challenging to get around without one. (and no moneiezz anyway!)
UCSD Hillcrest Medical Center — UCSD La Jolla campus: 13 miles, 30 mins.
Hillcrest — Downtown San Diego: 2.6 miles, 13 mins.
“Human scale is a design principle that responds simultaneously to simple human desires and the emerging ethos of the new decentralized economies. […] Human scale in economics means supporting individual entrepreneurs and local businesses. Human scale in communities means a strong neighborhood focus and an environment that encourages everyday interaction.”—Peter Calthorpe and William Fulton. The Regional City, 2001.
currently a selection in a textbook: The Region Is The Neighborhood: sprawl and the new urbanism.
I don’t know why I keep getting stressed out over all the chapters of reading I need to catch up on..
ehkä nyt on olut-elokuva-aika..
looked over the class syllabus/schedule, I’ve got 12 chapters of City Politics, 5/6 of Erie’s Beyond Chinatown about LA’s metropolitan water district, and one last chapter from American Urban Politics..
arrghhh nearly a week of being unable to do anything thanks to the surgery and accompanying vicodin*..and going out/normal weekend stuff.. at least I dropped that other class.
and I am the type that feels compelled to do every single reading, lest I miss something important or interesting.
*totally blaming the vicodin and blurred vision side-effect that ensued.
Toronto cycling activists were gnashing their spokes and rending their spandex after city council voted to kill the Jarvis Street bike lanes on Wednesday. Put in only last summer, the curbside lanes are to be pulled right back out again by the end of next year. It looks like a huge step backward. In fact, it could turn into a big win for cycling in the city.
Almost lost in the hubbub over Jarvis was the fact that council also voted to push ahead with Toronto’s first network of separated bike lanes. That means cyclists will be able to travel on lanes that are not just painted lines on the asphalt, like those on Jarvis, but fully separated from car traffic.
Council voted to build separated lanes across the Bloor Viaduct, to start design work on separated lanes for Sherbourne, Wellesley, Harbord and Beverley and to look into separated lanes on Richmond and Peter or Simcoe. The result would be a system that would take cyclists smoothly and safely from, say, the Danforth to the financial district or from the University of Toronto to the waterfront without having to fight their way through mixed traffic.
It is the biggest step yet toward creating a true bike network for Toronto – not just the dog’s breakfast of disconnected, unprotected lanes we have now, but a real network like they have in Montreal. Thousands of commuters who now fear to ride in the turmoil of the open road would start cycling instead of driving to work, with all the benefits that brings for health, air quality and traffic congestion.
Cabrillo Bridge and El Prado in Balboa Park. photo by lorenjavier.
parking on El Prado.
Everyone wants to get cars out of the Plaza de Panama—the area surrounded by the San Diego Museum of Art, the Mingei Museum and The Prado restaurant—but fewer people want a parking garage next to the organ pavilion, and fewer people still want a raised bypass ramp built off the south side of the historic Cabrillo Bridge.
Removing the 70 or so parking spaces from the plaza and routing traffic around the edge of it can be done right now, without an expensive, invasive new ramp and roadway, and work to restore the plaza for pedestrian use before the planned 2015 centennial celebration of the Panama-California Exposition can begin. The only impact would be the added pressure on other parking lots.
As for Jacobs’ parking structure, in 2004, the City Council approved amendments to the Balboa Park Master Plan allowing for a new underground parking garage off Park Boulevard. That makes a ton more sense than building a structure in the park’s historic interior; circulation and parking should be pushed to the park’s perimeter, and the interior should be redesigned for passive pedestrian enjoyment.
totally down for pedestrianization (with cycle paths, of course) of the Balboa Park Bridge, and the underground parking structure. Thanks sd citybeat for the report. Didn’t know about the whole Jacobs’ plan.
underground parking structures make the most sense. They’re out of view save for the entrance/exits, save surface land, and can be built with tunnels that lead closer in/up to the center of the park. In Dresden, under the old cobblestones of the main square, is a parking structure. Right under the main square! There’s an elevator that takes car parkers right up to street level. g.maps hasn’t updated yet, and I don’t remember if I took a photo of it, but here's construction of the underground parking.
“A great city has two hallmarks: tolerance for strangers and intolerance for mediocrity.”—
Bonnie Menes Kahn, Cosmopolitan City.
"These are precisely the qualities that appeal to members of the Creative Class—and they also happen to be the qualities conducive to innovation, risk-taking and the formation of new businesses." —Richard Florida, the Rise of the Creative Class: the Power of Place, 2002.
dreamt this morning that I hopped on a streetcar in a very Gothenburg-like Berkeley.
damn, wouldn’t it be nice if the Key System were restored.. streetcar on College Avenue instead of slow (and super-clogged on game days) traffic all the time due to stop sign at Russell, and light at Ashby.. the street was designed small (2 skinny lanes of auto traffic, 2 street parking lanes) for a reason! (streetcar only) and streetcar on Adeline.. that thoroughfare was designed large (wide auto lanes right now) for a reason, too! (streetcar+auto lanes)
my friend replied to my twitter post (aka tweet, but I’m not a freakin’ bird):
@dt8k I read that as Gotham-like Berkeley, and then I imagined an old school 18th century Gotham-Berkeley with Batman running around. Groovy
wouldn’t be bad either. good idea for a Berkeley noir.
well, since I mentioned twitter, here’s the link to mine: dt8k. I have this tumblr sending posts to twitter, so if you’re already following me here, don’t bother. unless you like random updates and retweets re: edm and stuff by my favourite djs.
Have a nice (and partiful Pride—if you’re in San Diego) weekend! My couchsurfer from Bulgaria just left and I’ve got a large coffee (and lots of leftovers) from brunch at the Tractor Room, so time for studying and catching up on reading for my Urban Politics class!
A meeting of about 20 local businesses endorsed the project, even though about half of them, as beverage retailers stood to lose income from the venture. But they magnanimously recognised the environmental impact of bottled water, and felt, on balance, the benefit to the community outweighed the sales profit.
Environmental Impact of Bottled Water In information compiled by the town’s Bundy On Tap campaign, they note that Australia’s annual consumption of bottled water is about 540 million litres. To sell this much bottled water the industry uses approximately 1 billion litres of water each year. In environmental terms the production and distribution of this volume of bottled water created more than 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions 13,000 cars generate in one year.
The NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change estimates that 200ml of oil is used to produce, package, transport and refrigerate each litre bottle of bottled water. As a result, at least 50 million litres of oil is used in the manufacture and distribution of bottled water in Australia every year. Thus bottled water has a higher carbon footprint, that is more than 300 times greater per litre than tap water.
A comprehensive American study found the total energy required for bottled water production was as much as 2,000 times the energy cost of producing tapwater…
Campaigner John Dee said local opinion had been incensed when a drinks company announced plans to tap an underground reservoir in the town. “The company has been looking to extract water locally, bottle it in Sydney and bring it back here to sell it,” he said. “It made people look at the environmental impact of bottled water and the community has been quite vocal about it.”