Via gothamist. Photo: Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library
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From the streetsblog article, by Ben Fried:
The high-water mark for American parking policy came in the early 1970s, when cities including New York, Boston, and Portland set limits on off-street parking in their downtowns. They were compelled to do so by lawsuits brought under the Clean Air Act, which used the lever of parking policy to curb traffic and reduce pollution from auto emissions. This level of innovation went unmatched over the ensuing three-and-a-half decades. Only now are American cities implementing effective new parking strategies that cut down on traffic.
A report released today by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy [PDF] highlights the new wave of parking policy innovation that could pay huge dividends for sustainable transport and livable streets. If your city aspires to make streets safe, improve the quality of transit, and foster bicycling, then your city needs a coherent parking policy.
“There was a 35-year parking coma during which the federal government, cities, and environmentalists forgot why parking was important,” said John Kaehny, who co-authored the report with Matthew Rufo and UPenn professor Rachel Weinberger. “This study shows people are starting to wake up and understand that parking is one of the most important influences on how cities work and what form of travel people choose to use.”
The early 70s parking limits beat back the cycle of more car storage, wider roadways, and greater sprawl that decimates urban areas. The underlying idea was simple: Manage the supply of parking, and you can reduce the demand for driving. Yet in America this notion has gone largely unheeded, even in cities.
Instead, the authors note, parking policy is typically divorced from transportation policy and goals like reducing congestion or encouraging walking and biking. In most of our urban areas, planners determine parking volumes using suburban standards, drawing heavily on ill-suited recommendations in “Parking Generation,” a manual published by the Institute for Transportation Engineers. The product is cheap, ubiquitous parking — much of which sits unused most of the time.
Fully 99 percent of car trips in America end in free parking, an incentive that crowds out all other modes of transportation. “Even when the price of parking is free,” said Weinberger, “it’s far from free.”
The resulting congestion impedes the effectiveness of transit. Traffic volumes and double-parking make bicycling less pleasant and more dangerous. Walkable environments give way to curb cuts, dead walls, and land-devouring parking facilities that spread destinations farther apart. The whole vicious cycle is heavily subsidized, with the cost of parking absorbed into the price of everything from housing to movie tickets.
“In a time of economic distress, we can’t afford to continue these policies,” said ITDP’s Michael Replogle. “Continuing to subsidize parking is very costly for all of us.”
The good news is that some cities are introducing more rational parking policies guided by coherent goals. The ITDP report pulls together case studies of several places where these reforms are underway — information that the authors hope will spur other cities to take notice. “American parking policy is like bike policy a decade ago,” said Kaehny. “Cities are doing lots of different and interesting things. But they aren’t sharing what they learn in an organized way, nor are the feds helping spread the word about what is working and what isn’t.”
In San Francisco and New York, programs to bring the price of curbside parking more in line with off-street parking are reducing the incentive to cruise endlessly for a cheap spot. In Portland, planners have reduced parking requirements for new development near transit lines, helping to improve walkability and increase ridership.
Boulder provides an intriguing study in parking management as an economic development tool. This small Colorado city is one of the only places that introduced new parking policies during the 80s and 90s. After deciding they couldn’t compete with suburban malls by imitating them, local merchants led an effort that effectively capped the volume of downtown parking and directed revenue from parking facilities to improve transit, walking, and bicycling.
Other cities will be able to replicate the innovations in the report, said UCLA planning professor Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking. “Weinberger, Kaehny, and Rufo show how cities can begin to repair the damage caused by decades of bad planning for parking,” he said. “The case studies of six cities that have reformed their parking policies provide clear blueprints that any city can adapt to fit the local circumstances.”
1943 – 2010
From the NY Times article, by John Markoff:
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but in cyberspace it might be.
Computer science researchers at the University of Washington and Cornell University are deploying a system that will blend teamwork and collaboration with powerful graphics algorithms to create three-dimensional renderings of buildings, neighborhoods and potentially even entire cities.
The new system, PhotoCity, grew from the original work of a Cornell computer scientist, Noah Snavely, who while working on his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Washington, developed a set of algorithms that generated three-dimensional models from unstructured collections of two-dimensional photos.
The original project was dubbed Photo Tourism and it has since been commercialized as Microsoft’s Photosynth service, making it possible for users to upload collections of photos that can then be viewed in a quasi three-dimensional montage with a Web browser.
However, Photosynth collections are generally limited to dozens or hundreds of photos. The researchers wanted to push — or “scale” — their technology to be able to handle tens of thousands or even millions of photos. They also wanted to use computer processing power to transform the photos into true three-dimensional images, or what they refer to as a “dense point cloud.”
The visualization technology is already able to quickly process large collections of digital photos of an object like a building and render ghostly and evocative three-dimensional images. To do this they use a three-stage set of algorithms that begins by creating a “sparse point cloud” with a batch of photos, renders it as a denser image, capturing much of the original surface texture of the object, and then renders it in three dimensions.
To improve the quality of their rendering capabilities, the researchers plan to integrate their computing system with a social game that will permit competing teams to add images where they are most needed to improve the quality of the visual models.
The PhotoCity game is already being played by teams of students at the University of Washington and Cornell, and the researchers plan to open it to the public in an effort to collect three-dimensional renderings in cities like New York and San Francisco. Contestants will be able to use either an iPhone application that uses the phone’s camera, or upload collections of digital images.
In adopting what is known as a social computing or collective intelligence model, they are extending an earlier University of Washington research effort that combined computing and human skills to create a video game about protein folding.
The game, Foldit, was released in May 2008, allowing users to augment computing algorithms, solving visual problems where humans could find better solutions than computers. The game quickly gained a loyal following of amateur protein folders who became addicted to the challenges that bore a similarity to solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle.
The emergence of such collaborative systems has great promise for harnessing the creative abilities of people in tandem with networked computers, said Peter Lee, a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program manager who recently organized a team-based contest to use the Internet to quickly locate a series of red balloons hidden around the United States.
“The obvious thing to do is to try to mobilize a lot of people and get them to go out and take snapshots that contribute to this 3-D reconstruction,” he said. “But maybe if enough people are involved someone will come up with a better idea of how to go about doing this.”
Indeed, it was J. C. R. Licklider, a legendary official at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, who was a pioneer in proposing the idea of a “man-computer symbiosis.” While at Darpa, Dr. Licklider financed a series of research projects that led directly to the modern personal computer and today’s Internet.
To entice volunteers, the researchers have created a Web site: photocitygame.com. Anyone who wants to be a “custodian” of a particular building or place can begin by uploading pictures of the site. To maintain control they will need to be part of the group that contributes the most photos, in a capture-the-flag-like competition.
“One of the nice things for the players is they can own the points they create, whether it’s a building or a collection of buildings,” said Kathleen Tuite, a University of Washington graduate student and a computer graphics researcher who is one of the designers of PhotoCity. She said the researchers were considering the idea of offering real world prizes that would create incentives similar to Geocaching, the popular Internet GPS game.
“Eventually, the goal is to create a game without boundaries, that expands to fill the world,” Dr. Snavely said. “ For now, we’re focused on the scale of a college campus, or the heart of a city.”
The saying “You’re only as old as you feel” really seems to resonate with older adults, according to research from Purdue University.
“How old you are matters, but beyond that it’s your interpretation that has far-reaching implications for the process of aging,” said Markus H. Schafer, a doctoral student in sociology and gerontology who led the study. “So, if you feel old beyond your own chronological years you are probably going to experience a lot of the downsides that we associate with aging.
“But if you are older and maintain a sense of being younger, then that gives you an edge in maintaining a lot of the abilities you prize.”
Schafer and co-author Tetyana P. Shippee, a Purdue graduate who is a research associate at Purdue’s Center on Aging and the Life Course, compared people’s chronological age and their subjective age to determine which one has a greater influence on cognitive abilities during older adulthood. Nearly 500 people ages 55-74 were surveyed about aging in 1995 and 2005 as part of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States.
In 1995, when people were asked what age do you feel most of the time, the majority identified with being 12 years younger than they actually were.
“We found that these people who felt young for their age were more likely to have greater confidence about their cognitive abilities a decade later,” Schafer said. “Yes, chronological age was important, but the subjective age had a stronger effect.
“What we are not sure about is what comes first. Does a person’s wellness and happiness affect their cognitive abilities or does a person’s cognitive ability contribute to their sense of wellness. We are planning to address this in a future study.”
Schafer also said that the current study’s findings have both positive and negative implications.
“There is a tremendous emphasis on being youthful in our society and that can have a negative effect for people,” Schafer said. “People want to feel younger, and so when they do inevitably age they can lose a lot of confidence in their cognitive abilities.
“But on the other hand, because there is such a desire in America to stay young, there may be benefits of trying to maintain a sense of youthfulness by keeping up with new trends and activities that feel invigorating. Learning new technologies is one way people can continue to improve their cognitive abilities. It will be interesting to see how, or if, these cultural norms shift as the Baby Boomer generation ages.”
Other studies have shown that women are prone to aging stereotypes, so Schafer expected to see that women who felt older about themselves would have less confidence in their cognitive abilities.
“There is a slight difference between men and women, but it’s not as pronounced as we expected,” Schafer said. “This was surprising because of the emphasis on physical attractiveness and youth that is often disproportionately placed on women.”
Schafer also is studying how stressful events, such as family members’ health issues, affect aging, as well as how happiness and aging relate.
These finding were published in January’s Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, and the study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.