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TheCityFix Picks, September 17: Chinese Congestion, Athenian Mobility, Global PARK(ing)
(PARK)ing Day

Today is PARK(ing) Day! Grab some change and sod and take over a parking spot for the day. Photo by Scott Beale.

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

The Toronto suburb, Brampton inaugurates the first line of Züm, the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT). The BRT project will be completed in two phases over the next 11 years and is integrated into the existing public transit system.

With nearly 2,000 registered new vehicles entering traffic daily, Beijing officials have turned to Los Angeles traffic authorities for advice on how to deal with the “near gridlock” situation the Chinese capital finds itself in.

Public transit users in Dubai strongly favor installing more lanes dedicated to buses and taxis across the city, according to a recent survey by the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority.

Nottingham and London top the list as the least car-dependent urban areas in England. Accessibility and usage of mass transit were important factors in the determination.

By 2012, China will have laid over 13,000 kilometers of track for high-speed rail stretching across the country, according to the most recent estimates.

Quality of Life

Now six years post-Summer Games, Athens’ Olympic legacy benefits citizens’ mobility with better mass transit options and walking streets which bring them in closer contact with the city’s cultural memory.

Making communities more walkable and encouraging other active modes of transit through sustainable development leads to less premature deaths and respiratory issues, according to new data from the American Lung Association.

Making communities more livable is key in contemporary city development. Experts discuss the importance of thinking about the people who live in cities and making them more enjoyable places to dwell on “The Diane Rehm Show.”

More and more people are hopping on to two wheels in the U.S.’s most crowded county Los Angeles to get around, despite traffic and hostile drivers. Public Radio International’s “Living on Earth” profiles Los Angeles’ growing fondness for biking.

Environment

The U.S. EPA is celebrating four decades of cleaner air. The Clean Air Act made its way through Congress and was passed this week 40 years ago.

Poor air quality could have serious health implications for those regularly exposed to air pollution yet current reporting methods do not communicate the true risk, according to the British Health Protection Agency.

Snack company Frito-Lay recently put in an order for 176 electric vehicles to be added to the company’s fleet of delivery trucks used to distribute chips and other products to retailers.

Public Space

PARK(ing) Day has arrived! Today is the fifth annual event that asks citizens to transform metered parking spaces into public parks and other social spaces.

Dallas, a city know for its criss-crossing highways and cheerleaders, is becoming more bike-friendly. The urban planner behind the 2011 Dallas Bike Plan is profiled in the Dallas Morning News.

With congestion only growing on Beijing roadways, the 18 percent of commuters who go by bike increasingly feel (and are) pushed off the roads by motor vehicles.

Technology and Innovation

Two enzymes have been found to extract the sugars used to create ethanol from dense materials such as wood, a plant source that previously was little used in the production of biofuels due to the difficulty of extracting such sugars.

Microsoft’s Bing recently added transit maps to the search engine’s maps service. Currently, public transportation directions are only available for 11 metropolitan areas in Canada and the U.S.

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