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January 30, 2020

Last night a classmate of mine said that scooters are littered around his neighborhood. This came just an hour after another classmate of mine said that scooter injuries are from user error. These aren't uncommon opinions, but those two comments really stuck with me - the images of scooters as litter and the idea that it is the fault of the rider that they got injured. 

Let's start with the idea that it is the fault of the rider that they were injured. Long-time bike riders or advocates for bicycle infrastructure will recognize this argument - if you are in the domain of the automobile, it's your fault that you were injured because you don't belong there. This line of thinking is slowly disappearing as cities become more human-oriented, but the antics of scooter riders has caused it to reappear. Unfortunately, I cannot argue against the fact that the majority of scooter riders that I've seen in the last year are not riding helmets and that is undeniably reckless. I also cannot argu...

September 3, 2019

Nearly a year ago my fiance and I took the train up to New York City to explore Manhattan and Brooklyn for a long weekend. It was my first semester of graduate school and, since I was back on the East Coast, I was excited to enjoy the relative ease of Amtrak travel. Getting into Brooklyn was fairly easy, after we took a taxi to Union Station in Washington, D.C. we sat on Amtrak for a few hours while reading and doing homework then arrived in New York. From there, we took the Metro across the river to Williamsburg and just had a few blocks to walk with our backpacks until we got to our hotel. Getting from Brooklyn to Penn Station for the trip back to D.C. was a completely different story... We decided to go to a deli in Brooklyn for some giant Italian subs to enjoy during the train ride and realized that we were too far from a subway stop to make it to Penn Station via public transit. So, like most millennials, we called an Uber pool. The Uber found us fairly quickly and we even made it...

January 24, 2019

One of the great things about city life is how close you are to everything and everyone else. In many cities, most people can get by without owning a car and just rely on some combination of walking, biking, taking the bus or train, ridesharing, and even scootering. Many people use public transit already, but that number could be increased if we had a way to make it more convenient for people to get to a public transit stop. Imagine you lived a mile from the closest Metro stop - would you walk that mile both ways, every day? Some people would, some people would take their car or a rideshare. Now imagine if you had a bikeshare dock just one block away or if there were always shared e-scooters parked outside your apartment door - that takes your twenty minute walk to a 5-10 minute ride. Now would you take the Metro every day? Research has shown that public transit ridership does increase with these transportation additions, and that they could be valuable to solving what transportation p...

November 17, 2018

The challenge of how to adapt to sea level rise is especially difficult, given the differences across urban areas in how sea level rise will affect them and the uncertain predictions of how much sea level rise will occur, and when, but it's an important issue to plan for. As both the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report, released in October, and the United States government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, released in November, have reminded the world, climate change is actively changing our planet, it is caused by humans, and it will get worse.  I recently read the book The Water Will Come by Jeff Goodell. It is a haunting story about the impacts of sea level rise and a society steadfastly focused on ignoring it, but despite that uplifting synopsis I encourage everyone to read it.

Towards the end of the book, Goodell discusses the idea of moving communities out of areas that are at high risk for sea level rise or flooding from climate...

October 1, 2018

Almost every city in America right now is pushing to create more affordable housing. Rightly so, too, as the National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that the for every 100 extremely low income renter households across the country there are only 35 affordable and available rental homes. That adds up to a shortage of 7.2 million rental homes that are affordable and available to extremely low income renters. The National Low Income Housing Coalition defines extremely low income renters as those with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30 percent of the area median income. 

One solution to the affordable housing crisis that has gained traction in some major cities recently is the idea of installing accessory dwelling units (ADUs). ADUs are small apartments or houses that are typically built in the backyard of a single family house, or are the result of a garage converted to an apartment. The beauty of the ADU is that they can provide additional housing in areas that are zoned for...

March 29, 2018

Despite the presence of women in the field of urban planning there are very few aspects of urban planning that are predominantly designed with women in mind. It’s not that urban planners are specifically designing places for men - it’s that they aren’t specifically reaching out to women for their opinions. The shift in planning to make policies that equally benefit both men and women is called gender mainstreaming.

Gender mainstreaming was defined by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as “the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies, or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic, and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal...

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