Street sense Urban thinker Jane Jacobs' life, short works captured in pair
of new books
For those who like their Jane Jacobs served neat and short, here, for the
first time, is a comprehensive tasting menu of smaller creations by the
visionary American-born Canadian urbanist (journalist, historian,
economist, activist, etc.), unfiltered and undiluted.
Served chronologically and spanning Jacobs’ seven decades of evolving
theory on how cities function and can function better, the offerings in *Vital
Little Plans* include articles from *Vogue* in the 1930s, *Harper’s Bazaar*
in the ’40s and *Architectural Forum* in the ’50s.
There are interviews (see Jacobs bristle in a 1993 one-on-one with Canadian
journalist David Warren); an early website commentary (1995); and speeches
(including one she delivered at a 2001 conference of Canada’s large city
mayors in Winnipeg).
There is her "foreword" to a 1952 State Department Loyalty Security Board
interrogatory inquiring into her affiliations (she was a target of Cold War
campaigns to expose Communists but was, in fact, an independent thinker).
There is also an excerpt of a book, unfinished when she died in 2006.
Jacobs’ writing is clear — expressed simply, sometimes lyrically,
down-to-earth and based on observation and research — but it is not simple.
Some pieces, given their complexity (particularly her economic theories),
take time to digest.
The knowledgable editors masterfully provide context in a style as engaging
as Jacobs’ own. Samuel Zipp is a historian and academic of American and
urban studies at Rhode Island’s Brown University; Nathan Storring is a
curator and designer based also in Providence and New York City, with
Their five "part introductions," prefacing different stages of Jacobs’
writings, describe her life and times concurrent with those works. The
writings are balanced between her New York City and Toronto periods.
Their annotations, readily accessible at the foot of the page, succinctly
identify persons referenced by Jacobs (tombstone data, career background,
their relationship to her) and explain diverse concepts such as New York
City’s long-gone pneumatic mail tube system, "new towns" and the Canadian
Senate. They cross-reference singular Jacobs ideas, pointing to other of
her works, inside and out of *Vital Little Plans,* where those thoughts
originated, are expanded upon, shift and connect.
The collection includes Jacobs’ 1992 new foreword to her most famous book, *The
Death and Life of Great American Cities*, republished 31 years after
rocking city planners, architects and the public in 1961.
That seminal work appears on the dust jacket of *Vital Little Plans* as
part of an extended subtitle: *The Short Works of Jane Jacobs, Author of
The Death and Life of Great American Cities*. This is doubly curious.
Surely anyone interested in this meaty new volume will have already heard
of Jacobs, so *Death and Life* is hardly a lure. Could a person possibly
know that work but not Jane Jacobs?
The editors suggest she may be fading from memory. A reason, they say, for
now publishing *Little Vital Plans* is to "retrieve… her voice for readers
who’ve forgotten it or never knew it in the first place."
Jacobs is everywhere in 2016. In addition to Robert Kanigel’s *Eyes on the
Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs*, another biography, *Becoming Jane Jacobs*
by Peter L. Laurence is due, as well as another Jacobs collection, *Jane
Jacobs: The Last Interview and Other Conversations*.
This year, on the weekend closest to Jacobs’ May 4 birthday, tens of
thousands of citizen-explorers across six continents plied local
neighbourhoods to celebrate her and her ideas. It was the 10th annual
edition of Jane’s Walks, the urban walking tours inspired by Jacobs’ ideas.
*Vital Little Plans* encourages us to read Jacobs. Short samplings are
easier to appreciate and, unlike a select work from her varied collection,
provide the full palette of her thought.
We can walk away satisfied with more than mere tropes, good as "sidewalk
ballet" and "eyes on the street" will always be.
*Gail Perry is a co-founder of the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation and
co-creator of a local Jane’s Walk, Plane Jane: A Walk to the Airport.*
Designing the perfect winter city
Winter is Winnipeg’s thing. It’s what we’re known for. It unifies us like a
legion heading into battle. As we prepare to collectively stare down
another winter, however, the city of Edmonton is quietly threatening to
invade our turf. They not only showed up last week to beat us at our
favourite winter sport, they are now trying to beat us at winter itself.
In a few weeks, Edmonton’s urban planning committee and city council will
be presented with an official winter design policy, a planning document
that outlines an innovative set of winter-specific urban design guidelines,
with the goal of transforming the Alberta capital into an international
model for winter city design. Once adopted, its recommendations will
influence zoning bylaws, design standards and approval processes by viewing
them through the unique lens of winter living. With these new guidelines,
Edmonton is hoping to turn a traditional winter hibernation into an outdoor
Winnipeg has led the way with several grassroots festivals, activities and
community initiatives that have begun to change our attitudes about winter
living, but embedding winter-specific design principles into official civic
policy is a visionary idea that could have a transformational effect on the
character of Edmonton’s architectural and urban form.
The guidelines will implement several design strategies to help make
outdoor spaces comfortable and inviting in all seasons, by focusing on the
creation of comfortable urban microclimates. Wind and sunlight are the two
key elements that impact thermal comfort in urban areas. Environment Canada
has indicated by controlling these factors through design, we can make
outdoor public spaces feel warmer by as much as 10 C on cold days.
Edmonton’s new guidelines hope to encourage outdoor winter activity by
considering the impact of design elements at every scale. On an urban
design level, dense development is promoted, with short city blocks that
reduce walking distances. The use of urban alleyways is encouraged as an
opportunity to provide smaller, sheltered spaces with shops, restaurants
and pedestrian connections to adjoining streets. In strategic areas, the
guidelines recommend buildings include small setbacks or pocket parks along
the sidewalk to create sun traps and wind shelters that incorporate dense
materials such as stone and brick to naturally absorb and reflect heat.
The document also advocates for development of more low-rise buildings to
help break up the wind and provide access to sunlight on the sidewalks.
Zoning changes are suggested to create streets that have buildings with
varied heights, to reduce the wind tunnel effect, while taller structures
are to be located on the north sides of streets and should be designed with
massing that steps back from the sidewalks as they rise, to reduce shadows
at the ground.
At an architectural scale, designers are encouraged to establish strong
indoor-outdoor relationships, by creating buildings with many public
entrances and small storefronts aligned directly to the sidewalk, so
pedestrians can find regular locations to warm up. Requirements for
buildings to include awnings, arcades and overhangs are promoted as a way
of providing outdoor shelter from wind, snow and rain. The use of colour on
building facades is encouraged, along with permanent and seasonal lighting
to provide a visual warmth to the outdoor environment, particularly during
the long, dark winter months.
Recommendations for landscape design include development of urban spaces
with public art and street furnishings that incorporate windscreens, gas
firepits and other heating sources. Trees, plants and landscape elements
are also seen as an important design opportunity to create outdoor rooms
that control wind, sun and drifting snow in public places.
By carefully implementing these strategies, designers can affect human
comfort in our urban environments in very significant ways. Commitment to
these principles could result in the development of a unique northern city
that supports a vibrant and active urban lifestyle in every season.
We have generally used technology to fight our battles against climate and
have in many ways built cities that turn their backs on winter, with
skywalks that replace sidewalks and climate-controlled malls instead of
urban shopping streets. This has not only made a lasting impact on quality
of life in many northern cities during the colder months but often affects
public priorities and investment in the warmer seasons as well.
There is often opposition to new ideas in cities such as Winnipeg if they
are viewed as having limited seasonal use. Year-round urban amenities such
as protected bike lanes, pedestrian-oriented downtown streets or walkable
residential neighbourhoods are often dismissed with the sentiment that we
can’t do that here because it’s too cold. With good design, however,
outdoor winter participation can be increased, optimizing public
investment. As an example, when bike-lane systems in Montreal and
Minneapolis were designed and maintained with winter use as a priority,
cycling rates more than doubled overall, and winter participation has been
growing three times faster than summer use.
Edmonton’s winter design policy is an inspiring first step toward making a
long-term cultural shift in our perception of winter living. Their
leadership is an opportunity for Winnipeg to set its own priorities for
winter city design. By promoting innovative, homegrown approaches to
architectural, urban and landscape design that naturally encourages more
outdoor winter living, we can improve our quality of life and capitalize on
the unique opportunities of our northern climate.
*Brent Bellamy is chairman of CentreVenture’s board and the creative
director at Number Ten Architectural Group.*
*HEADINGLEY, MANITOBA–(Marketwired - Oct. 28, 2016) *
The Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba today announced
support for a new pathway at the intersection of Provincial Road 334
(Bridge Road) and the Provincial Trunk Highway No. 1. This connection
between the north and the south areas of Headingley across the Highway will
provide pedestrians and cyclists with a new, direct link to key amenities
in the area. The pathway will create increased opportunities for outdoor
recreation for families and give them a safer travel option in the
*** Please share widely – thanks! ***
*Peg City Car Co-op seeks Member Services Coordinator*
We’re looking for someone who is passionate about sustainable
transportation and is keen to help make carsharing a practical, convenient
and cost-effective solution for more Winnipeggers. If you are someone who
likes a variety of responsibilities and working with a small, tight-knit
team, this is for you. Check out the full posting here
. Apply by November 14, 2016.
*Bike. Walk. Bus. And Sometimes, Drive.*
Trip west convinces councillor protected bike lanes in downtown should be
A recent West Coast trip to an urban cycling and pedestrian conference has
re-ignited a suburban city councillor’s enthusiasm to spur Winnipeg’s own
protected downtown bike lane network.
Janice Lukes, chairwoman of the city council’s public works committee,
wants city hall to fast-track the establishment of a downtown network of
protected bike lanes using temporary structures like concrete Jersey
highway barriers and concrete curbs and plastic bollards.
"Why not investigate to see if we can do it?" Lukes (South Winnipeg-St.
Norbert) said. "There seems to be broad public interest in it. We want
people living in our downtown and we want the downtown to be vibrant and
exciting and more cycling and pedestrian does that."
Lukes held a public forum earlier this week, bringing with her the team of
engineers responsible for designing and implementing the temporary downtown
networks in Calgary and Edmonton. The event drew about 130 people, she
said, and it stoked everyone’s interest that the model could be duplicated
"Winnipeg needs something like this," said Mark Cohoe, executive director
of Bike Winnipeg. Cohoe attended Luke’s forum and said the team of
engineers generated local excitement at what could be accomplished here.
Council approved a cycling and pedestrian strategy last year that outlines
proposed bike and pedestrian paths across the city but it’s a 30-year plan
and Lukes said she thinks the timeline can be speeded up considerably.
The city has a protected bike route along a stretch of Sherbrook Street and
is constructing routes along Assiniboine Avenue and Pembina Highway.
The most ambitious plan appears to be the make-over of Garry Street, with a
1.5-long-kilometre protected bike route that runs from Assiniboine Avenue
into the Exchange District. But it won’t be completed until the end of 2018.
Winnipeg’s current policy is to construct protected bike lanes as part of a
co-ordinated effort involving street and underground infrastructure street
renewals. Lukes said the conference showed her there’s another approach —
Calgary was able to quickly set up a protected bike network using temporary
structures, which can be moved if the routes need to be adjusted.
Lukes said building protected bike routes encourages ridership and rider
safety; using temporary structures generates cycling interest quickly and
helps civic officials determine which routes should become permanent.
"Because you’re using temporary structures, it doesn’t take years to build
it," Lukes said. "They created this temporary network in downtown Calgary
and, the design resulted in an increase in the number of on-street parking
spaces and led to a significant increase in the number of downtown
Lukes said she’ll ask city staff at the Nov. 1 meeting of the public works
committee to see what would have to happen to enable a fast-track a
downtown cycling network, which will likely involve more study and a plan
with a budget to be brought to council.
"We have the (proposed) routes already. Now, we need to look at our budget
and decide what can we put on hold and how we can get it done." She said
it’s possible the federal Liberal government will provide funding.
Lukes said that while in Vancouver she explored that city’s network of
protected bike routes. "There were hundreds and thousands of people riding
their bikes everywhere.
"I biked around downtown Vancouver all over. I felt safe. It was amazing,
it was like, oh my gosh, it was fantastic. Again, it was protected cycling
– I felt safe. It was great. It’s a cycling network that eight-year-olds
and 80-year-olds can go on it — It’s not made just for guys in spandex.
People feel safer so people use it."
So, why is a suburban councillor promoting a proposal to fast-track a
downtown cycling network? Lukes said before winning election to council,
she spent 15 years as an advocate for increased pedestrian and cycling
"If we can get more people on bikes, we reduce traffic congestion — take
that car lovers — and it’s a proven boost to businesses along the street.
It creates vitality, vibrancy and gets more people healthy. It’s a win-win.
It’s the right thing to do."
Lukes points to the popularity of the Northeast Pioneers’ Greenway — a long
strip of pavement that runs between two streets from North Kildonan to East
"It doesn’t even go anywhere or connect to any other bike routes and it’s
become the most heavily used piece of active transportation we have in
Manitoba. Never in my life would I have dreamed the impact that walking and
cycling does for people. I see how it transforms communities,
neighbourhoods and lifestyles."
Cohoe said the city’s proposed downtown network lacks connectivity with
other neighbourhoods and needs to be revised but Lukes said city hall has
to start somewhere and creating a downtown network is probably the best
Creating a safe, protected downtown network will generate interest, she
said, and will lead to the establishment of cycling networks in other
neighbourhoods and routes that link the various networks.
"Really, it’s the chicken-or-egg dilemma," Lukes said. "We have a huge
density of people downtown, we want more people living downtown. We have a
lot we can build on from our own experience and there’s lots to build on
from other cities. We’ve got actual pieces of infrastructure, like on
Sherbrook, which other businesses can see."
Forum on fast tracking bike network well attended, but now what?Winnipeggers
have expressed an appetite for a fast-tracked minimum grid installation in
downtown, but there's still work to do before it can happen.
A group of Winnipeg cyclists, politicians and students are keen to see the
wheels in motion for a bike grid in Winnipeg.
But following a public forum on “fast tracking
complete bike lane network in Winnipeg on Tuesday, the question remains:
Spoiler alert: there could be more consultations.
More than 150 people at the forum heard from a panel well acquainted with
the successful application of that style project in Calgary, and another
underway in Edmonton, and liked what they heard.
“There wasn’t a moment that made me think it wasn’t applicable (in
Winnipeg),” said urban design student Zach Fleischer. “To see the other
cities stepping up to the plate, it’s really inspiring, and it gives me
hope we can start to move forward.”
The Green Action Centre’s safe routes to school program coordinator Jamie
Hilland, who admits he’s biased in terms of wanting protected bike lanes,
said he found the number of attendees “eye opening.”
“(Attendance) was impressive, it was literally standing room only. You can
really tell there is a pent-up demand for this kind of thing,” he said.
The demand hasn’t gone unnoticed with municipal leaders.
Councillor Cindy Gilroy, who attended the forum, said she appreciated the
panel and learning “how (other cities) moved forward with a grid,” adding
she’s, “open to having a conversation now about what (Winnipeg) can do.”
She thinks it’s the right time to have that conversation, as “more and more
people become engaged.”
“A few years back that room (Tuesday) wouldn’t have been as packed, but
people are starting to cycle more,” she said. “I think we need to talk to
that community… if they feel we could start a project while having some
temporary infrastructure put in that could become permanent, I’m all for
Her colleague, Coun. Marty Morantz, is similarly interested in pacing the
bike network expansion to allow for more consultation—whereas the forum’s
organizer and lead bike-booster Coun. Janice Lukes is steering the
Morantz wasn’t at the public forum, but during a debate on impact fees at
City Hall on Wednesday he highlighted the contradiction in Lukes wanting to
take more time to study the fees while trying to hurry in another “major
“A downtown cycling grid is very important. I just really hope that it
doesn’t get rushed through,” Morantz said.
Lukes, for her part, doesn’t disagree, and her next steps are in line with
what Morantz and Gilroy are thinking.
“What’s next? We go to the next phase,” Lukes said. “I’ll make a motion to
ask the department what amount of consultation it would take to understand
this better… get some cost estimates, some scheduling estimates, that’s my
Depending how long it takes for city staff to answer those and other
questions in a full report, Lukes said consultation could probably happen
within the next year, something she’s excited about.
“I absolutely want to keep moving forward on this,” she said. “Ultimately
council will decide.”
*** Friendly reminder about tomorrow's webinar ***
Green Action Centre and Bike Winnipeg invite you to join us for a local
viewing of this month's APBP <http://www.apbp.org/> webinar.
The webinar viewing takes place in the EcoCentre boardroom (3rd floor, 303
Portage Ave) and will be followed by group discussion of local
RSVPs appreciated but not necessary. Hope to see you then!
* * * * *
*Intersections that Work for Pedestrians and CyclistsWednesday, October
19 | 2:00 - 3:00 pm CST *
Intersections present the greatest safety risk for vulnerable road users
and are the point of greatest potential conflict. The Dutch approach to
intersection design of separating modes and increasing sociability through
eye contact presents an opportunity for significant safety improvements to
transportation networks while meeting operational demands.
This webinar will evaluate the safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists
that lie in traditional intersection designs, as well as identify the
principal elements involved in protected intersection design and explore
their role in increasing safety. In addition, case studies of safety
improvements from both Dutch and North American contexts where protected
intersection designs have been implemented will be discussed.
- Dick Van Veen, Senior Consultant / Lead Designer Public Space, Mobycon
- Brian Gould, Bike Planning Engineer, City of Vancouver
*Beth McKechnie* | Workplace Commuter Options
<http://greenactioncentre.ca/>Green Action Centre
3rd floor, 303 Portage Ave | (204) 925-3772 | Find us here
Green Action Centre is your green living hub
Support our work by becoming a member
<http://greenactioncentre.ca/support/become-a-member/>. Donate at
Every $1,300 New York City invested in building bike lanes in 2015 provided
benefits equivalent to one additional year of life at full health over the
lifetime of all city residents, according to a new economic assessment.
That's a better return on investment than some direct health treatments,
like dialysis, which costs $129,000 for one quality-adjusted life year, or
QALY, said coauthor Dr. Babak Mohit of the Mailman School of Public Health
at Columbia University in New York.
Our greatest public health intervention, vaccines, take about $100
investment to yield one QALY, Mohit told Reuters Health by phone.
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