Friday Round-Up of New Reads on Urban Planning, Transit, and Technology

2.7.13 | Here in Chicago, so far this week we’ve had snow (Monday and Tuesday), sunshine (today), and are preparing for tomorrow’s weather: the snow-sleet-cold, hard rain mix that chills you to the bone and soul in a way that makes you wish for a snowstorm, because hey, at least the snow is pretty as it falls. As long as you’re inside. To honor this meteorologic mish-mash, we present a roundup of interesting items found around the Web of late, and hopefully some sites that may be of interest.

Leading off (Spring Training is nigh) is the “West Cook County COD+TOD Report,” issued January 10 by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, assessing the potential for Transit-Oriented and Cargo-Oriented development to mitigate future sprawl in suburban and exurban regions.

“The growth of employment centers in exurban areas inaccessible by mass transit creates strains on municipal infrastructure, depletes farmland and natural resources, increases regional conges­tion and pollution from cars and trucks, and exacerbates a jobs-housing mismatch as workers must drive farther and pay more at the fuel pump. These trends can be countered by creating more jobs, housing, and amenities near well-established passenger and freight transportation infrastruc­ture, particularly in the west Cook County suburbs,” CNT states.

By combining planned development of under-utilized land near existing freight infrastructure, and traditional TOD, “these strategies can be harnessed to mitigate suburban sprawl and take cars and trucks off the road,” CNT concludes.

While the report examines just one region, its conclusions are applicable everywhere. Get the report here.

Speaking of the Web, a new book from Karen Mossberger,Caroline J. Tolbert and William W. Franko examines inequalities of information technology usage in U.S. metropolitan areas, and the implications of disparities of access (broadband vs. mobile-only). Digital Cities: The Internet and the Geography of Opportunity also argues that national initiatives in the U.S. to increase broadband access have been misplaced — concentrating on access in rural areas while 84 percent of the population live in urban/metropolitan areas. Failure to address these problems will leave the U.S. further behind other regions of the globe in terms of access and opportunity, they warn.

Finally, these sites are worth a visit or bookmark:

  • The Urbanophile examines urbanism and regionalism, mostly in the Midwest, but ventures afield wherever proprietor Aaron Renn finds something of interest.
  • For 10 years, the Congress for the New Urbanism’s Transportation Networks initiative has been examining the deficiencies of street and transportation networks and documenting the advantages of stronger connections from the neighborhood to the regional levels. Its Sustainable Street Network Principles (released in January 2012) is worth a read.
  • The Victoria Transport Policy Institute has a wealth of reports advocating greater funding for public transit. Worth a visit, if you haven’t yet.
  •  Rail~Volution, which advocates for better transit funding and creation of livable communities (“…those that are healthy, economically vibrant, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable.”), set its 2013 conference for October 20-23 in Seattle.


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