the renewed city.


sleek new lights to help organize urban chaos.
November 27, 2008, 11:14 am
Filed under: bits n pieces

i’m a bit of a sucker for the small things, the fine detail. so i was mildly stoked when i came across a european design firm’s new concept for traffic and pedestrian signals.

the square design is supposed to help make the signals more easily noticeable and recognizable, with larger lit area for the same overall dimensions. i love the bright colour of the signal lighting and the sleek nature of the infrastructure itself. i could see these really fitting in with the urban fabric in downtown vancouver, especially were weather conditions (dark, rain and sleet) often make it difficult to see the existing traffic lights. what really strikes me, though, is the design attention devoted the pedestrian signals. i enjoy the clean and crisp crossing countdown.

more information and images at art lebedev studios.

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thoughts on bailouts.
November 26, 2008, 12:00 pm
Filed under: commentary

does the north american auto industry deserve a bailout, a heaping lump sum of tax payer money delivered to their front door?

it depends.

this is stagnant, troubled industry, namely because of it’s seeming refusal over the last half century to want to change the way they do business. this is an industry that has made many north american’s believe that larger, gas guzzling cars and trucks are what every one of us needs. this is an industry that has spent millions of dollars lobbying against federal fuel-economy standards and are suing to overturn the emissions standards imposed by California and other states. this is an industry that let more progressive companies like honda and toyota walk all over them. if the industry maintains it’s present course, a bailout certainly won’t help fix this mess.

instead, what’s needed is a change from within, a shift in thinking about travel and transportation. at the most fundamental level, this change starts with the auto industry reorienting it’s operations to deliver transportation as a means, not as an end in and of itself. what might this entail? it could mean these companies partnering with other industries to help develop high speed inter-urban rail vehicles, energy and fuel efficient intra-city buses, and other systems that would improve travel options and alternatives for everyone, reduce global warming and our dependency on dirty fossil fuel, minimize accidents, and generally improve the way we live.it could also mean a new lobbying role for automakers – i mean transportmakers – pushing for state/provincial and municipal officials to plan for better, more compact and walkable cities and towns that are required to support alternative transport modes.

this shift in thinking should not need to translate into job loss. in fact, i believe new opportunities for re-training of existing staff and personal and re-tooling of plant operations may emerge. so to would new marketing and sales opportunities.

a financial bailout could certainly help kick start such a paradigm shift. but before any money is given away, the auto industry – i mean transportmakers – need to be serious about becoming progressive. business plans need to be developed and presented to government showing timelines for the development of new transportion options, re-tooling operations, re-training staff, etc.

this is a daunting but also exciting opportunity for the re-invetion of the transportation industry. surprisingly, i think things are so bad that the auto industry is perhaps finally up for the challenge. however, whether these actions are too little too late to help our crumbling cities and environment is another post for another day.