Apr 23, 2012

For rapid transportation mode-share changes, it’s hard to beat Kunming, China, where OTREC Director Jennifer Dill is visiting this week. In recent years, car and transit trips have quadrupled. Bicycling, which used to account for more than half of trips, now makes up less than a quarter.

Dill is with a team visiting Kunming as part of the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization program.The visit is led by professor Connie Ozawa, director of Portland State University's Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning (TSUSP), and includes: professor Yiping Fang; practitioner-in-residence Gill Kelley, former planning director of the city of Portland; Dean Marriott, city of Portland’s director of environmental services; and Jianhong Ye, a post-doctorate fellow at TSUSP.

The team participated in a workshop with over 50 planners from the region, sharing information on how Portland plans for sustainability. The visit is hosted by the Energy Foundation and the city of Kunming.

Like many cities in China, Jennifer Dill, Kunming, China presentationKunming is facing tremendous growth pressures and increasing motorization. Between 1995 and 2011, car ownership went up from 20 cars per 1,000 people to 150 per 1,000. As a result, the...

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Apr 16, 2012

While the public street system makes up a huge portion of our public space, streets don’t contribute less to public life than they could, Denver Igarta of the Portland Bureau of Transportation told an OTREC seminar April 12 in Portland.

That’s not the case in Europe, said Igarta, a multimodal urban planner and a principal author of the Portland Bicycle Plan. He spent last November on a fellowship in Europe sponsored by the German Marshall Fund, with a week each in Munich, Rotterdam, Copenhagen and Malmö.

While street design manuals in the United States largely consider how directly and smoothly a street moves people along their route and to a destination, many European streets serve another official function, Igarta said: they encourage people to stay and live their public lives. European urban streets fill some of the same roles as American urban parks: attractive places to spend time.

This especially holds for small neighborhood streets, Igarta said, where moving traffic is secondary to fostering public life.

Igarta demonstrated the type of planning that can create livable streets with a comparison between German and American standards. Under Germany’s national street-construction manual, designers first consider whether the street’s highest emphasis should be on moving traffic, creating an attractive public place or parking. Other considerations then follow, Igarta said, including how wide to make the street.

In the United States, most...

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