Weekend Reading – 11.11.17

“Bike theft is not inevitable”: Vancouver rolls out a cycle crime revolution

 

Wellington’s recent anti-bike theft signs on the street.

Wellington’s recently seen anti-bike theft signs on the street.

For Vancouver, where more people cycle than any other North American city, bike theft is a real problem.  A trial of a high tech to way to reduce bike theft in the city has  impressive results – down 70% over two years.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Urban water: secret and not-so-secret streams

 

Do you know your suburb’s undergrounded streams? There are hundreds of them, piped and buried as part of orthodox (Pākehā) urban development. Pros: we get to build on top of and close by them as if they didn’t exist: maximising use of valuable land. Cons: people lose an opportunity to be exposed to natural water (psychologically bad), and we’re betting lots of valuable assets against Nature always being nice and kind.   

 

In Nelson, Brook Street (no, the name’s no coincidence!) has the stream running open through the middle (heavily channelised). It makes for a delightful streetscape – for the eyes and ears.

But it’s a risk. Here’s what happened one time Nelson lost that bet against Nature.

 

A photo from a Nelson, NZ newspaper showing damage form the flooding Brook stream to a road in 1970.

Photo: Nelson Photo News, Issue No 119 : September 19, 1970.

 

 

Why do we still commute?

 

A train traveling over a Wellington highway.

Photo originally from Stuff.co.nz

 

Back in the 1980s many authoritative people predicted that telecommunications advances would swiftly consign the workday commute to history.   Everyone would work remotely from lifestyle farmlets or delightful suburbs, staying out of the nasty crime-ridden squalor of cities.

 

Harvard University cities expert Ed Glaeser observes:

“[they] didn’t foresee the rise of the consumer city, the fact that millions of people would actually want to locate in London or New York—not just because there are jobs there—but because it was fun.” The other part of the story is that, far from killing the urban office, computers invigorated it with new forms of work that made it even more profitable.”

 

Despite a slight rise in working from home, telecommunications haven’t freed us from the commute.  

 

 “…computers and smartphones didn’t replace the office—they’ve just kept us tethered to it when we’re not there.”

But face-to-face, kanohi ki te kanohi is hard to replace.  

 

Wellington region people travel on average between 17 and 50 minutes to work.  Let’s Get Wellington Moving is trying to figure out transport solutions given the thousands of people who descend on Wellington City each day to work – but also for the city as a place to play and soak up the excitement of a proper city.  

 

Should we be doing more to replace the commute?

 

 

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