Vancouver West End

3 Ways Land-Use Planning and Zoning Can Increase Urban Density

By Mona Qureshi and Robin King / Published by TheCityFix.

Where would you feel safer walking alone at 3 A.M: a busy, heavily trafficked street, or a loosely populated section of a sprawling city? Most people would likely choose the former. Indeed, higher population densities can make city streets feel safer at all hours—while also fostering commercial activity and giving cities an attractive, bustling character.

Pedestrians in Shanghai

China's Pedestrianization: Reviving a Tradition of Walking for Healthier Cities

By Wei Li / Published by TheCityFix.

Pedestrian-oriented streets not only are safer, improve air quality, and encourage physical activity, but also facilitate commercial and social activity. Although China has rapidly urbanized in the past few decades, many cities across the country are still not easily walkable.

According to the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment, 82 percent of Chinese residents indicated that they are not satisfied with the walkability of their city. With increasingly large cities, China's urban population has experienced a decrease in quality of health, caused in part by heavy air pollution and sinking levels of physical activity.

Soundview Housing Projects, Bronx, New York City

Mixed income public housing: mixed outcomes, mixed-up concept

By Lawrence Vale and Shomon Shamsuddin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Published by The Conversation.

For decades, public housing stood as the most architecturally visible and politically stigmatized reminder of urban poverty in many American cities. Originally built to accommodate an upwardly mobile segment of the working poor, by the 1970s public housing had become a last-resort option for low-income elderly and the poorest of families. Critics blamed public housing for concentrating poverty, encouraging welfare dependency, increasing crime and violence, and contributing to urban disinvestment and decline.

Over the past 20 years, the United States federal government and local housing authorities have replaced hundreds of troubled public housing projects with mixed-income developments. Has it worked? It depends who you ask: scholars, elected officials, housing developers, and low-income residents continue to disagree. A key area of contention has to do with the term "mixed-income" – which, though widely used, is rarely defined.

Robert Muggah: How to protect fast-growing cities from failing

Robert Muggah: How to protect fast-growing cities from failing

"Worldwide, violence is on the decline, but in the crowded cities of the global south — cities like Aleppo, Bamako and Caracas — violence is actually accelerating, fueled by the drug trade, mass unemployment and civil unrest."

In this TED Talk, security researcher Robert Muggah turns our attention toward these “fragile cities," super-fast-growing places where infrastructure is weak and government often ineffective. He shows us the four big risks we face, and offers a way to change course.

Grand Central Station, New York

Hong Kong on the Hudson?

Written by Donald L Miller, Lafayette College / Published by The Conversation.

Good historians know that history rarely teaches clear lessons. When it does, we should heed them. In the 1920s, urban visionaries completely refashioned midtown Manhattan, making it the most modern and economically vibrant downtown in the world. Their work can serve as an inspiration and example for businessmen, city officials, and residents who are currently struggling to find ways to keep midtown – now an aging business district – the center of world capitalism, without destroying its historic character or creating impossible pedestrian and vehicular congestion.

So far, leaders of the 21st century campaign to remake Manhattan have paid little heed to what urban critic Lewis Mumford called “usable history." In 2013, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a sweeping plan to rezone a 73-block area surrounding Grand Central Terminal, which would allow for the construction of super-size skyscrapers, some of them taller than the Chrysler Building. This would make New York more competitive with Hong Kong, Shanghai, and London in the fiercely contested battle to attract and retain businesses with global reach, Bloomberg argued.

Pedestrians, San Francisco

To tackle inequalities, build health into all public policies

Written by Thilina Bandara, University of Saskatchewan / Published by The Conversation.

Many of today's public health issues – diabetes, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease – are strongly associated with social inequalities. Literature from across the world shows that gaps in income, employment, education and access to acute and preventative health care worsen health outcomes for disadvantaged populations. When the inequalities are avoidable and based on unjust distributions of resources, for example, it then becomes an issue of health inequity.

This means that public health professionals must address the factors that people are born into – where they grow, live and work – at a population level to alleviate health inequities. The World Health Organization points out that these conditions are "shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels."

Social maps that reveal a city's intersections

Dave Troy: Social maps that reveal a city's intersections - and separations

"Every city has its neighborhoods, cliques and clubs, the hidden lines that join and divide people in the same town. What can we learn about cities by looking at what people share online? Starting with his own home town of Baltimore, Dave Troy has been visualizing what the tweets of city dwellers reveal about who lives there, who they talk to — and who they don't."

This talk was presented at an official TED conference and filmed in October 2014. It is available from the TED website at <>.

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