Moving South Moving South
Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered topics like the impending global water crisis, the future of transportation, and the amazing rebuilding of New Orleans. This quarter's issue is about cities, spotlighting Los Angeles, and we'll be rolling out a variety of stories all month. You can subscribe to GOOD here.
Forget Stockholm or Copenhagen or any of those tidy, polite, well-managed Scandinavian cities. Forget that cherished model of North American transit planning, Portland, Oregon, a perfectly fine and impressive study, but made for a small and more easily managed city. To find smart, progressive transportation solutions for a city as massive, frenetic, and sprawling as Los Angeles, we must look toward the surprisingly effective models in places every bit as massive, frenetic, and sprawling.
Amidst enormous internal urban migration, routine corruption, and perennially strapped budgets, a number of South American cities have tamed the auto craze to create livable streets and incredibly efficient mass transit.
Thirty years ago, a maverick mayor, Jaime Lerner, pioneered Bus Rapid Transit. Lerner calls it a “surface subway”—express buses are given exclusive, traffic-free lanes, and stops are equipped with elevated platforms where customers pre-pay, wait for the bus, and step right on when it arrives. The average stop takes less than 20 seconds. Today, more than 70 percent of Curitibans take the BRT to work. Those who still drive enjoy less congested roads.
Meanwhile, the city closed off a good chunk of downtown to all personal vehicles. The pedestrian city center—once vehemently opposed by local business folks who feared patrons would have no way to reach them—is now a vibrant commercial core.
In the mid-1990s, Mayor Enrique Peñalosa brought the Curitiba model to Bogota, creating the world-renowned TransMilenio bus system. Double-long (“articulated”) bright red express buses cruise along dedicated four-lane rights-of-way down the center of major avenues and expressways. Routine cross-town travel times are reported to have dropped dramatically: a 30-kilometer trip that once took 2 hours and 15 minutes now takes just 55 minutes. “Feeder” buses traverse neighborhoods and bring passengers to main TransMilenio hub terminals. Bicycles also play a huge role. Bike parking at TransMilenio terminals is abundant and free, and buffered cycling arterials flow through the busiest neighborhoods.
Quito, Santiago de Chile, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires are all hopping on board the surface subway trend. The advantages to urban planners and city leaders are clear: Buses are cheaper, easier, and a whole lot faster to get up and running than subways that would move the same amount of people. The best examples integrate land-use planning and rezoning efforts, concentrating high-density development along transit corridors.
photo (cc) by Flickr user Campanero Rumberounder
Learn more about L.A.'s transportation future here.
A New Social Network for Marijuana Users So stoked on that joint that you just have to share it with the world? There’s an app for that.
A $113 Million Idea Conquering the World is a Beautiful Thing to Watch A hypnotic data visualization of the spread of one of history's most viral phenomenons
Spreading the Word on High-Impact Nonprofits, a Dollar a Day A site created by volunteers and a Kickstarter founder offers you a small way to support innovative philanthropic organizations.
The Show Must Go On An interview with Tig Notaro Tig Notaro on comedy, creativity, and cancer.
5 of Rory’s Favorite Books That Perfectly Explain Gilmore Girls Rory Gilmore, a rolemodel for a generation of bookish young women, expressed herself best through literature.
Vermont Farmers Pilot a Whiz-Bang Solution to Fertilizer Pee-cycling saves water, feeds plants, and helps low-income farmers. What’s not to love?
Freelance-Friendly Cities Being your own boss has never been so affordable. Work-Life Balance: What makes a Freelance-Friendly City?
This Yoga-in-Schools Program Just Raised $31,000 in Crowdfunding R.I.S.E. introduces Bay Area teens to yoga, to help with self-image, grades, and other adolescent nightmares.
A New Olympics Just For Nomads Playing polo with a 100-pound goat carcass to save nomadic culture and build national pride in Kyrgyzstan.
New Detroit Program Trades Houses for Literary Excellence Write a House names Brooklyn poet Casey Rocheteau as first recipient of free home in Detroit
A Chance in Hell Yaks, America, and The Apocalypse Up against an $88 billion beef industry, it takes a leap of faith to raise yak in the United States.
Specialty Coffee Retailers Try to Prove They're Good to the Last Drop Searching for the perfect cup of sustainable and ethically produced joe. #NationalCoffeeDay
The Daily GOOD
Get our daily dose of information and inspiration. Sign up Now ›