Currently viewing the tag: "Boston"

GOOD Magazine has published an interactive graphic comparing our country’s largest mass transit systems (here). The abbreviated study looks at Chicago, San Francisco, New York City, Boston and Washington, DC. It’s an interesting visual study of what ‘works’ and reminds us that if you build it, maintain it and keep it convenience, the masses will come. What do you think?

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Yet another large city is deciding to implement a smart growth code, this time Boston.

Today, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council will unveil a new plan for growth and preservation in Greater Boston. The plan, called “MetroFuture,” was constructed with input from more than 5,000 residents and regional leaders. It calls for a new pattern of development based on “smart growth” - concentrating new homes and jobs near existing infrastructure, preserving farms and fields, and protecting air, water, and habitat.

I wonder when Miami 21 opponents will wake up. We need to implement our plan.

(PS. Dade county needs a similar complete code rewrite that addresses its sprawl DNA.)

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Miami lacks a center.  We have no urban square in which to assemble, no central oasis within our concrete jungle.  Our coastal parks lack focus, continuity, or the social elements which make them function.  By looking into the success of Urban Squares across the country, we’ll gain a better understanding of the attributes which make these squares function as centers for civic pride.  The features which make these urban parks succeed is what we as a community pour into them.  By contrast, our closest example of an Urban Square, Bayfront Park, is a disjointed, uncohesive mess, littered with commercial enterprises.  As we’ve discussed before, our closest community assembly point may just be a parking lot…

As you glance through these select few parks, notice the emphasis on community events.  You will find successful squares exist centered among the crossroads of business, theater, retail, and artistic centers while serving as the focal points for our densest urban communities. Don’t neglect the transit infrastructure.

Without reiterating many of the points made by my colleagues, I’ll turn our attention to the most successful urban squares across the United States, addressing why they work.

Union Square (San Francisco)

The 2.6 acre Union Square is located in the heart of San Francisco’s shopping, entertainment, and theater district.  A plethora of boutiques, department stores (6 to be exact), hotels, and theaters surround the square, making it one of the largest tourist attractions and shopping districts in the Bay Area.  The square is serviced by 2 cable car lines (Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason), the F Market Heritage Streetcar line, Muni Metro, and BART Subway systems (3rd busiest station along the system.)  Click here to go on a 3D Tour of Union Square.

Madison Square (New York)

The 6.8 acre Madison Square Park first opened in 1847, almost immediately served as a catalyst for the surrounding area, attracting hotels and theaters to the district (yes, this is where Madison Square Garden gets its name from.)  The park experienced a renewal in 1870 which bought a new design and sculptures to the park, among other items.  In 1912, America’s first public Christmas tree was erected in the park.  Today, the park plays host to abundant community and civic events (like the meatscursion.)  A new park favorite, the Shake Shack, garners hundreds of hungry patrons daily with lines snaking throughout the park.  Six lines of the MTA Subway service the region.

Union Square (New York)

Speaking more from personal experience, New York’s Union Square is a hub for local activity surrounded by an abundant mix of retail, residences, and commercial property.  The square is surrounded and influenced by the surrounding flatiron, Chelsea, Greenwich, and NYU neighborhoods.  Originally founded in 1815 as a public commons, the square began to take its more modern shape later into the mid 1800’s.  One of the square’s most prominent local features, the GreenMarket, began in 1976, providing regional small family farmers with opportunities to sell their fruits, vegetables and other farm products in the city.  The Union Square Hub is serviced by eight MTA subway lines.

The Unions Square Pillow Fight 2008:

Copley Square (Boston)

Boston’s Copley Square was founded in 1858.  Up until the early 1900’s, the square served as a cultural and educational center for Boston, bordered by the original Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Public Library, and original MIT Campus.  In 1983 with the formation of the Copley Square Committee, the park was revitalized improving green space, water features, and sightlines.  The Square is serviced by the four routes of the Green Line Light Rail system.

Forgive me for my absence recently, as Ryan mentioned, we have all been extremely busy.  I’m heading up to Boston for the weekend…

Via: Shutterscript’s Flickr…

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The Boston (MBTA) Silver line illustrates the proper way transportation should be integrated into up and coming areas, not yet ready to be serviced by regular rail transit.  The Silver line will eventually create an “Urban Transit Ring” connecting much of the transit in the city of Boston and establishing a BRT to service areas which could sorely benefit from regular fixed transit.  The Buses used on the silver line operate using engines on regular streets, but operate under electrical power (transferred by overhead wires) when operating in tunnels or streets with existing electrical infrastructure (similar to streetcars and LRT.)  The eventual objective of the silverline is to serve as a placeholder for future rail expansion while cultivating proper transit oriented development and ridership along the route…

Miami may be one of “America’s cleanest cities,” but it certainly is not one of the most bicycle-friendly. This fact was recently recognized in the June 2008 issue of Bicycle Magazine, which bestowed Miami with the dubious distinction of joining Dallas and Memphis as one of the three worst cities in America for bicycling. The excerpt, linked above states the following:

In Miami, the terrain lies pancake-flat and the sun shines bright nearly every day-perfect conditions for cycling. But Miami-Dade County has done little to foster safer streets for bikes, despite the fact that Florida ranks second in the nation in bicycle fatalities and that much of Miami’s poorer population relies on bikes for transportation. The county enacted the Bicycle Facilities Plan in 2001, but it failed to state any specific goals. The city of Miami has no finished lanes, and the only one under construction is less than a mile long. The rest of the county’s lanes are just as short, appearing randomly and disappearing a few blocks later. “We’re so far behind and in the dark with bikes it’s absurd,” bike-shop owner Chris Marshall told the Miami New Times in January. “I’d say we’re stuck in the ’60s, but it’s worse than the ’60s. In the ’60s you could still get around by bike.”

I agree that we are far behind, but the article fails to mention Mayor Diaz’s new Bicycle Advisory Committee, which is working under the umbrella of the Office of Sustainable Initiatives to create a bicycle master plan that dovetails with Miami 21. It’s an uphill battle, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Interestingly, the City of Boston, another cycling-poor city in which I have lived, repeatedly received similar honors from Bicycling Magazine. However, thanks to an aggressive agenda to improve cycling conditions the city is quickly altering its reputation. Let’s hope Miami is not too far behind.

One of the best examples of how to create a vibrant, pedestrian accessible, and dense neighborhood is in Boston along the Back Bay. The dense row houses, some of which have been converted into mixed use structures (along Newbury street, Commonwealth Avenue, and Boylston) create a dense yet comfortable living environment. Public park space is amply provided along the Charles River Esplanade, Commonwealth Avenue, and the city’s central park (the Boston Common and Public Gardens) which anchors the eastern portion of this quaint neighborhood. Boston’s Back bay embodies many of the principles envisioned in Miami 21, including stepped structural height increases, reduced setbacks, on street parking, and canopy/park space requirements. Miami’s design district would be ideal for similar development and the Miami streetcar, like the green line which runs adjacent to the Back Bay, would only further bolster the livability of this neighborhood.

Transit Miami reader/contributor Dave sent me an excellent price comparison he composed on the cost of transit:
Listed are the comparable monthly passes (basic all purpose pass for busses, trains and transfers) and what the single cash fare would be for one trip. The number of trips listed is how many trips you would have to make in a month for the pass to be worth while for simple round trips.

Miami monthly metropass: $75, single fare $1.50 (50 trips)
Boston monthly metropass: $59, single fare $2 (29.5 trips)
New York monthly metropass: $76, single fare $2 (38 trips)
Chicago monthly metropass: $75, single fare $2 (37.5 trips)
San Francisco (Muni&some Bart stations) metropass: $45, single fare $1.50 (30 trips)

Maybe its because Miami-Dade’s transit thinks we need to pay more than other cities for our monthly pass because we use the transit system so much more often than these other cities do (sarcasm)?

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