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TheCityFix Picks, June 10: Chicago’s BRT, Solar-Powered Trains, Vision Zero

Solar panels cover a train tunnel in Antwerp, Belgium, providing enough energy to power 4,000 trains for one year. Photo by Adams K.

Welcome back to TheCityFix Picks, our series highlighting the newsy and noteworthy of the past week. Each Friday, we’ll run down the headlines falling under TheCityFix’s five themes: mobility, quality of life, environment, public space, and technology and innovation.

Mobility

Paris launched the first municipal electric vehicle share program. It consists of 3,000 cars and 1,000 hire stations in the city, costs €110 million (US$ 158 million) to construct and will begin operations later this year.

Seattle saw its first commercial electric vehicle charging stations in the city, coming as part of the federally funded EV Project. A total of 2,000 stations will grace the city by the year’s end.

The 10 member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program met this week to finalize a strategic framework for the next decade to bolster regional transport, trade and efficient energy sources.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) unveiled its bus rapid transit (BRT) project plans at two open houses. The BRT is set to start construction during the spring of next year.

Gurgaon, India reported plans to add 600 new buses to its fleet, 400 of which will come from a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

Quality of Life

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission adopted a city-wide comprehensive plan purported to address transit-oriented development, land use and commercial corridors.

Older pedestrians run a higher risk of being killed, according to a new study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Pedestrians over the age of 60 have a 2.5 times higher risk of being killed than pedestrians under 60.

New York City traffic safety advocates released a new report, Vision Zero, and, in accordance with the report’s message, delivered a call for New York to attain a level of zero serious injuries caused by traffic crashes by 2030.

Environment

310 U.S. cities achieved all-time record high temperatures this past Wednesday. The aggregated figures were produced by HAMweather.

In the attempt to satisfy the European Union’s newly proclaimed stringent air quality requirements, the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is currently consulting on updated local and national plans to improve air quality.

The Energy Evolution: Achieving Sustainable Urbanization in China symposium was held in Beijing this week. The event gathered leaders from the public, private and academic circles to discuss issues of green mobility, alternative energy and energy efficiency.

The Dubai police force announced plans to switch to a bus fleet fueled by biodiesel made from cooking oil.

Public Space

Tomorrow afternoon, Arlington, Va.’s public transit will depart from convention with the second installment of Art on the ART Bus, showing the potential of art to transform public space. The series features works by artist Julie Wolfe, curated by Cynthia Connolly.

Britain’s growing movement of converting unused warehouses, industrial buildings and other urban spaces into opera houses will be recognized on June 14 at the annual meeting of The Theatres Trust.

Much in the same vein as New York City’s High Line, which revitalized a once desolate industrial area, the city of Toronto announced it will create a park under the Gardiner Expressway.

The increasing role of the public in designing buildings, parks and other public spaces was showcased this week at the National Building Museum’s Intelligent Cities forum. Other highlights from the event can be found in our recap of the event.

Technology and Innovation

Recently installed solar panels covering a 2.2-mile Belgian tunnel will produce enough energy to power 4,000 high-speed trains traveling between Paris and Amsterdam each year.

The University of Calgary announced it is developing Canada’s first interactive urban planning computer platform.

Ford announced plans to triple its electric vehicle production by 2013. Ford’s currently forerunning electric vehicle models are the Fusion Hybrid and Escape Hybrid.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will award $36 million to six projects focused on improving the efficiency of converting non-food biomass feedstocks into usable biofuels.

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