TheCityFix Picks, March 9: Elevated BRT, Airbags for Pedestrians, Equal Housing Rights

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: integrated transport, urban development and accessibility, air quality and climate change, health and road safety, and communications and marketing.

Integrated Transport

Chengdu, China is planning to build an elevated ring road with a bus rapid transit system to ease the burden of congestion. BRT passengers will pay their fare on the ground level and pass through the gates to escalators that will take them to the second level.

Mercedez Benz launched its City Bus in Chakan, India. The Indian bus market is the second largest in the world with 46,000 buses sold in 2011. The head of Daimler buses explained that the new buses will be targeted to State Transport Authorities across India, especially with bus rapid transit systems becoming a mainstay in major cities in India.

Here is an interview the Hindu conducted with NYC Transport Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan on how to improve public transportation and make cities work better.

The Maryland Department of Transportation announced that it will dedicate $2.5 million in funding to connect a bike route to Montgomery County transit stations. This bike initiative is one of 20 for the state and it is an effort to meet the requirements that ask that a portion of federal highway funds be spent on bike and pedestrian programs.

Urban Development + Accessibility

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the new equal access housing rule, which clearly and unequivocally demands that “LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose.” Donovan also said that denying HUD housing to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is discrimination. “You are breaking the law, and you will be held accountable,” Donovan added.

The Asian Development Bank signed a tripartite agreement with the Centre and Government of Assam for an $81 million loan agreement. The loan will go to the Tranche 1 of Assam Urban Infrastructure Investment Program to upgrade wastewater treatment and urban transportation infrastructure. The program is estimated to benefit the 350,000 residents of Guwahati city.

China’s real estate market is booming at an accelerated speed, where a 30-story building went up in two weeks. Experts say this is possible because most of the works is done in factories and the foundation is laid ahead of time.

Air Quality + Climate change

The Environmental Protection Agency tentatively approved Colorado’s State Implementation Plan for Regional Haze. The plan intends to greatly reduce statewide pollution in order to boost health and environmental quality.

Hong Kong’s environmental protection department began publicly releasing hourly measurements of the tiny pollutants known as PM2.5, a month and a half after Beijing released theirs.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), along with other state agencies, is conducting a survey of California residents’ travel behavior to improve mobility, job access and air quality. The comprehensive survey is a partnership among Caltrans, the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, and local transportation planning agencies and is intended to inform decision-makers on ways to improve the travel options available to Californians.

Health + Road Safety

Since 2000, the share of traffic fatalities linked to speeding increased 7 percent. Over three-quarters of the surveyed state highway offices cite “public indifference to speeding” as the biggest obstacle to reducing speed-related traffic deaths.

Volvo is introducing the world’s first airbag for pedestrians. The device is fitted to the all-new V40, which was unveiled this week at the Geneva Motor Show. The airbag is activated through a series of sophisticated sensors fitted to the front bumper.

Communications + Marketing

Verizon is focusing a new marketing campaign on young, tech-savvy apartment residents and they’re doing it by reaching these young professional in places where they spend a great deal of time, like gyms, restaurants, pubs and transit centers.

Gabrielle Rodriguez, Manager of Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Travel Information Center, won the national Call Center Challenge competition sponsored by the American Public Transportation Associaton. Rodriguez was crowned public transportation’s best telephone customer information agent at APTA’s 2012 Marketing and Communications Workshop in Miami on February 28.

Canadian cities are getting new transit apps to better inform commuters. A few new ones include Calgary, Toronto, and Laval.

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