Urbanization News: July 29

Pop Up to Permanent: The Globe and Mail features cities in North America and Europe that have embraced the idea of pop-up projects as a planning tool to rethink public spaces. The image above is from Times Square in New York, a “pilot” project that closed one of the city’s most chaotic streets to car traffic, a change that’s feeling pretty permanent these days.

HSR Crash Update: The New York Times reported that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao admitted last week’s high-speed rail crash that killed 39 people was the result of a serious design flaw – not only did a signaling device malfunction after a lightning strike, but inadequately-trained workers also failed to notice.

Extortion, Violence Cripple Bus System: In more unfortunate transit news, TheCityFix reports that thousands of residents in Medellin, Colombia are without bus service due a driver strike to protest inadequate protection from extortionist gangs. A longtime bus driver was recently murdered after refusing to pay an extortion fee, setting off the strikes.

Master Plan in Abu Dhabi: The National outlines a new master plan for two suburban communities in Abu Dhabi,  which would work to connect communities divided by a highway, promote walkability, and integrate them with the growing Abu Dhabi metro area. The revitalization would cover one of the oldest Emirati communities in the United Arab Emirates.

Green or Greenwashing?: The UK released a new national planning framework of its own that attempts to cut red tape, safeguard the environment, and prioritize sustainable development. Green groups, however, claim the lofty language obscures that the framework would actually jeopardize environmental protection and make carbon-intensive development projects easier.

Dealing With Density 1: Last week we featured a story about public housing in Hong Kong – this week the Wall Street Journal offers a personal view into the crisis of overcrowding, the trend of subdividing already small apartments, and the challenge of providing housing in the city of seven million.

Dealing With Density 2: While in Hong Kong more people are fitting into smaller spaces, the Guardian UK reports on Moscow’s controversial plan to double the city’s size to relieve crippling congestion – a plan that would destroy forests, summer homes, and relocate hundreds of thousands of rural residents. Moscow’s population has grown by 200,000 people per year since 2006.

Nixed Signals: The Times of India reports that Gandhinagar, the only city in the state of Gujarat that has no traffic lights or stop signs (but lots of roundabouts), is getting its first traffic booth as the number of cars on the road has grown unmanageable.

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