Image provided by Kerry Carty Photography
Attending the conference up in Seattle was one of the highlights of the year. The thing that left the biggest impression on me was the bike share program and geared the city is toward active transportation. The city of Seattle is dense enough for the pedestrian to take priority and traffic is not as bad as the city of Los Angeles. Many of the people in the city were either walking or riding their bikes through the streets of Seattle.
The session that caught my attention from the conference was the topic of facing the issues of the aging communities. With an aging population brings about different social problems and planning issues. Basically what the session covered was the issue of people living longer and how there is little to no accessibility for those baby boomers. Due to our progressing advances in medicine people are now living longer than ever and has brought about problems due to the way we planned our cities. The suburban area was created with the necessity of a car. Our public transit system are no way near adequate to get the aging population around. So the option for the aging population is slim. The age community only option is to move in with relatives or move into a retirement home. This puts the burden on their loved ones or giving up the personal freedom that they had for so long. One of the solutions that was brought up was the idea of using school buses to provide a way for the elderly to get around the city since school buses have more routes than our local transportation system.
Bike parking on Pike St
Who needs a car in Seattle, WA?! For a person that lives in Seattle, car may not be necessary- specially if they live and work in the city! The city is dense, and has wide sidewalks to allow for enough pedestrians to walk comfortably. A side from that, people are able to purchase a public transportation card that may be used for the bus, light rail, and monorail. Continue reading
In Seattle one of the major sustainable trend taking hold in the urban center are community gardens. Community gardens can offer many benefits to a city in terms of making it more sustainable. For instance community gardens can often times help spur the local economy providing a source of income for whom the farm serves.
Providing locally grown food is also beneficial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of fossil fuel used to transport food from other regions.
The Danny Woo Children’s Garden is located in the international district adjacent to the 5 free way and nested between Yesler Way and S. Main Street. The garden serves to unite the community in the international district by bridging the gap between older immigrants and the children of the community.
Agricultural practices developed during the industrial era has disconnected us from our food system and the average person does not know where his or her food comes from. The community garden such as the Danny Woo Community garden helps to reconnect traditional values and practices which just so happens to be sustainable and healthy.
When people talk about sustainability they often refer to technical approaches such as reducing GHG but what is often left out is the social aspect of sustainable systems. The Danny Woo Children Garden not only reduces GHG but it also improves and strengthen social fabric making the community more desirable to live in. A system can be sustainable but if it does not address social
This Past week I attended the national Planning conference in Seattle. One of the highlights of my trip was being able to bike in the city. On my route home I came upon an article in planetizen. http://www.planetizen.com/node/75958/seattle-sets-bikeshare-record-apa-town . Joe Mabel / Flickr
The Pronto bike share program broke record this weekend!! Why? It was because of the national conference itself. Reading this article showed how planners would use a bike system but the cities that they live in do not necessarily have a demand for it? It was very easy to rent. The hardest part to my experience with the bikes was that I am unfamiliar with gears on the bike, but it was easy to figure out as I rode the bike. I think it is great that there is apps like groupon because if it weren’t for the coupon, I am not sure if I would have gone biking. With my friends we purchased tickets and shared the codes in order to get a better deal for the bikes. One of the downsides to the renting is that you only have 30 minutes to use the bike before you are charged more. What my group decided to do is look at the map and where ever another station was near, we would dock our bikes before we were charged more and then wait a minute. Once the minute was up we could rent a bike for another 30 minutes. It is much simpler to use the bike share system on your own. We were a group of six and we could not find enough bikes on the Pronto stops near us. So what we did at the end was some of biked and the others ended up having to take a cab to the Mariners game. I drove to Seattle and on my way their passed through Portland. In Portland I saw full families young and old biking. I think the way Seattle is going it will be something that will also happen their as well. Overall great experience, I had not used a bike share system before, now I have a positive view of it!
In Seattle, there are many sustainable initiatives within the City. The one that caught my eye the most was that of composting and the correct disposal of food waste. This is all in the efforts of the City of Seattle to divert about 60% of their waste from landfills. In most public spaces, restaurants, and food courts are waste disposal units with trash, recycling, and composting. Something not too familiar for us residents in Southern California. Talking to most business owners, they do not see the required separation of waste as an inconvenience. Instead, the few business owners that I spoke to were surprised that Southern Californians did not require such a mandate and separation.
The City of Seattle served as an excellent backdrop and example of good street design for the APA Conference. Though I used ride-sharing and bike-sharing services there, my primary mode of transportation was walking. I found it incredibly easy to walk through the areas I frequented (primarily Capitol Hill and Downtown). The elements I found to be instrumental in creating a safe and inviting walkable environment are as followed: Continue reading
After spending five days in Seattle, it was clear that most cities in the country are quickly falling behind. Seattle is proactive in all of the areas of sustainability, it was great to see how these programs work first handedly. One of the obvious programs is how they recycle everything. At home, in restaurants, in the street, at shops, everywhere you went there was the choice to recycle, usually there were three bins or containers, one to recycle plastic, another for paper, and the other one was for compose organic waste, and sometimes one for trash (stuff that wasn’t really recyclable). However, in the recyclable bins one had the choice to recycle the separately within the same container, depending on whether the material is plastic, paper, glass, or aluminum. This was neat to see and after seeing it everywhere including our own AirBnB studio, it was easy to get used to it and even very encouraging to take part because everyone was doing it, everywhere. I was very impressed to see the sustainable efforts the city is taking to educate is own public and creating programs like this that are so abundant throughout the city that it forces one to take part. This was just one of the programs seen throughout the city, there were many more sustainable practices, such as bike share, zip car, pay by phone parking, mix use public spaces, anonymous needle disposals in public bathrooms, plastic bag ban, bike lane networks with its own light signals and appropriate signage, walkable streets promoted by mix uses, shops, bars, restaurants, street art , all abundant throughout the city and at pedestrian level. All of these sustainable practices and more are seen all over the city, if you ever get the chance to go check them out, please do! The rest of America definitely has some catching up to do on their sustainable practices!