CityLab


Seattle Wants to Change the Whole Conversation on Streetcars

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September 23, 2014
Unlike most new lines in U.S. cities, the Center City Connector would operate in its own exclusive lane.

On a late August afternoon, at the corner of Westlake and 6th avenues in downtown Seattle, a police officer pulled his patrol car to the curb. He got out and approached a woman who appeared to be on drugs: she was crouched and half-hidden in the shadows of a temporary plywood walkway beneath a building under construction. He called in the incident, and an ambulance was dispatched to the scene.

How San Francisco Is Designing Its Metro Train of the Future

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September 16, 2014
BART cars are about to get their first real overhaul since the system launched in 1972.

On September 11, 1972, crowds lined up for hours to be the first passengers aboard the sleek and high-tech trains of the new San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system. In the lead-up to the opening, newspapers had envisioned a gleaming future for train travel in America.

If an Electric Bike Is Ever Going to Hit It Big in the U.S., It's This One

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July 29, 2014
Is the Copenhagen Wheel poised to become the next big thing in alternative urban transportation?

On a sunny but brisk spring morning near the Charles River in Cambridge, I took a test ride on the bicycle of the future. No rockets or lasers (alas), the bicycle of the future looks pretty much like the bicycle of the present. But with the first pumps of my feet on the pedals, I felt the difference. The bike wasn't just moving, it was pushing, adding extra propulsion to my own pedaling, giving me a boost with every revolution of the pedals. Faster than expected, I reached the end of a quiet block leaning into a corner.

The Sidewalk of the Future Is Not So Concrete

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Date: 
May 22, 2014
Cities are experimenting with different materials — from heated panels to flexible rubber — but the best replacement has yet to emerge.

Concrete has long been the go-to material for sidewalks because it's strong and cheap. The typical stretch of walkway can last decades; New Jersey sidewalks have an estimated lifespan of 75 years. But concrete has its drawbacks, too, especially for cities intent on improving walkability. Tree roots can crack concrete, creating hazards for pedestrians (especially wheelchair users and parents pushing strollers), and the more a tree grows the more its surrounding sidewalk swells.