The urban nerd's version of a conference souvenir

Four Lessons from the 50th International Making Cities Livable Conference

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the 50th International Making Cities Livable Conference here in Portland, Oregon. This year’s theme was, “reshaping suburbia into healthy communities”, a rather hot topic these days and one which has finally become a focus for more places than I had previously expected. Many cities have up until recently famously emphasized the revitalization of their downtowns, a point of contention for those concerned with the exurban regions. Where once the urban core was the dangerous home of (so-called) ghettos and the suburbs were the epitome of the (again, so-called) American Dream, the reverse is quickly becoming reality. It’s a startling trend – housing prices are rising in downtown regions whereas suburbs are in the decline, increasingly occupied by the disadvantaged populations previously living in the now-popular urban apartment blocks.

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GOOD Video: Building a Bike Highway

Check it out!  The video is now live at GOOD Ideas for Cities, with a nice intro from Alissa Walker:

“Portland is famous for its vibrant biking culture, but the city’s infrastructure hasn’t caught up with the number of bikers on the streets. How do we create bikeways that will not only protect current cyclists, but also encourage more people to ride? As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities Portland, a team from THINK.urban presented its idea for creating a system of bike highways that run throughout the city. Instead of relegating cyclists to side streets and bike paths, the new bikeways would take over major Portland thoroughfares, making bikes more visible and creating more direct routes that would shorten ride times. Witnessing the shift from streets of mostly cars to mostly bikes will also start to create a sense that riders are prized and protected as a major transportation solution, not forced to stay in painted lanes.”

Challenge: Portland is known worldwide as a bike town; yet we have stalled when it comes to infrastructure. How might we create a major new bikeway that helps make bicycling as visible, safe, convenient, and pleasant for as many people as possible?

Bike Portland: Jonathan Maus, Founder

THINK.urban: Jason King, Allison Duncan, Katrina Johnston

Comments welcome.  Enjoy!

GOOD Ideas for Cities event a blast!

We’ve been busy at work on the submittal for the GOOD Ideas for cities proposal for bike infrastructure.

Scout Books created custom notebooks for the event

Scout Books created custom notebooks for the event

The event was a great success – and the conversation for new bike concepts in Portland and beyond, mixed with some luck and political will, has the potential to elevate the conversation and adopt some new infrastructure changes to make Portland not just a great bike city, but one that can truly hold the distinction as being ‘World Class’.  Thanks again to Jonathan Maus from Bikeportland.org – our urban leader who posed our question.   The event, which took place at ZIBA Design’s slick new office space, was sold-out and the crowd got into the proposals (including Weiden + Kennedy, Ziba, Sincerely Interested, THINK.urban, ADX, and the Official Manufacturing Company), kicked off by Alissa Walker from GOOD

The event was captured my Sarah Mirk of the Portland Mercury, who documented the proposals and snapped the following pic of our slide-show, along with a brief summary:

“CHALLENGE (from BikePortland.org editor Jonathan Maus): How can we create a major new bikeway that helps make bicycling as visible, safe, convenient, and pleasant for as many people as possible?
IDEAS (from PSU grad student nonprofit THINK.Urban):  “Take a cue from Europe and build two-way cycletracks on Portland’s biggest streets. The two-way lanes would be separated from cars on streets like Sandy, Broadway, and Hawthorne, by a grassy median. “Prioritize bikes on the same level as cars. People are tired of looking at Europe. We want to see these things here now.”

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Posting has lagged a bit, but that should change now that we’re moving on to some new things.  Stay tuned as we will post some of the ideas from the proposal, along with the PDF of the presentation, during the next week or so.

GOOD5

Very GOOD news!

The results are in, and the THINK.urban team of Jason King, Allison Duncan and Katrina Johnston is one of the groups that will be presenting as part of the GOOD Ideas for Cities event in Portland, being held on February 16th at Ziba and hosted by Portland State University Graphic Design Department.

From the GOOD site, here’s the all-star list of creative teams who will be presenting that night.

Wieden + Kennedy:  Nick Barham, Eugenie Frerichs, Bernadette Spear, Seth Weisfield, Igor Clark, Patrick Nistler, Jamie Ostrov, Joseph Limauro, Matt Brown

Official Mfg. Co.:  Mathew Foster, Jeremy Pelley, Fritz Mesenbrink

Ideas for Cities from Ziba:  Carl Alviani, Ryan Coulter, Steve Lee

Team ADX:  Building a Community of Thinkers and Makers: Eric Black, Kelley Roy, Greg Simons, Sean Barrow, Simon Yuen, Sarah Thilman, Tyesha Snow, Iain Thatcher, Max Miller

THINK.urban: Jason King, Allison Duncan, Katrina Johnston

New Approaches to Public Space:  Nicole Lavelle, Sarah Baugh, Justin Flood

It’s an honor to be in such esteemed company, and we’re excited to find out the specific issue we will be tackling for the event.  We will be getting the problem early in 2012, and will have 6 weeks to generate ideas for the February presentation.  Stay tuned for more on this.