TheCityFix Picks, August 31: World Urban Forum, Air Pollution Spike, Harbin Bridge Collapse


The World Urban Forum will be held in Naples, Italy. Photo by Jen.

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

The dispute over the integration of bus rapid transit (BRT) into New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge continues on, as the project to replace the span, which has undergone $750 million in maintenance to upkeep the aging structure, held its 35th public outreach meeting this week and continues to lose public input and interest.

Cebu, one of the Philippines’ most populous cities, is reviewing its final draft of a proposed BRT system. If the City Council approves of the plan, the two-year planning phase of this World Bank-backed transit system will move into its final phase, with an expected launch date of 2015.

Urban Development and Accessibility

The World Urban Forum, to be held in Naples, Italy, begins this Saturday. The world’s premier conference on cities was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing problems facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, policies and climate change. EMBARQ (the producer of this blog) will be participating in a few events related to sustainable urban mobility.

Palo Alto, Calif. will dramatically overhaul its city plan to appeal to a more pedestrian- and bike-oriented lifestyle. Sitting at the crux of Silicon Valley and cycle-friendly Stanford University, this home to the young and innovative will  “look beyond cars” and require city workers to use other transport modes.

Air Quality and Climate Change

Mumbai experienced a sharp rise in air pollution this year, according to the Environment Status Report (2011-12) of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). “The transport sector in the major contributor of air pollution in the city,” said the report.

Health and Road Safety

A 100-meter span of the eight-lane Yangmingtan Bridge in China’s northernmost metropolis, Harbin, snapped and fell 10 storeys to the street below, killing three people and injuring five more. This is the second time that the span’s structural integrity has failed, as a bullet train crash last year highlighted corruption, faulty materials and poor engineering in China’s push to rapidly expand infrastructure.

To preempt such disaster occurring further south, the operators of Xiamen’s BRT system are conducting a structural audit of its elevated BRT right-of-way, constructed by the same firm, Fujian Jiaojian Group Engineer Co., Ltd. that created the Yangmingtan Bridge.

Communications and Marketing

Ireland’s Minister for Transport Leo Varadakar launched an initiative to provide free public Wi-Fi across the nation’s public transport network by the end of next year. Currently, only inter-city bus and rail host these services, with test runs underway on Dublin’s bus and light rail systems.

Garmin, an international provider of personal GPS units, released software updates that include public transport and pedestrian options. The new functionality will include integration with Google’s Street View, in an effort to take “into account the specific needs of city navigation…for different forms of locomotion.” The software will enable devices to tell users a full gambit of car-free directions, including signaling when to exit vehicles or automatically shift into pedestrian mode when users exit their cars.

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