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Cycling in New York Is No Longer an Extreme Sport

One might think that riding a bicycle through the horn-honking, taxi-swerving streets of New York City would scare away even the bravest of the spandex-clad set.

But in fact some 6,000 cyclists will mount carbon-fiber racing machines, commuting clunkers and the occasional unicycle on Sunday for the 21st annual New York City Century, a ride that has become safer than ever thanks to the cooperative efforts of advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives and the bicycle-friendly administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

About 80 percent of the 100-mile tour (there are a series of shorter options too) will be on a network of bicycle lanes and paths that continues to grow every year, making New York City a cycling mecca for commuters, exercise enthusiasts and tourists who can take in a majority of the sites without breaking a sweat — or a limb.

“Sometimes New York City’s fast-paced streets can seem intimidating, but all the new bike lanes are changing that, as are all of the new cyclists on the streets,” said Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycling advocacy for Transportation Alternatives.

In 1997, the city developed a plan to create 1,800 miles of bicycle lanes throughout all five boroughs. The plan languished until 2007, when Bloomberg announced PlaNYC, a strategy to make New Yorkmore sustainable by 2030. Part of that plan involved speeding up the development of the bike routes.

In two years, 200 miles of bicycle lanes were added, major arteries like Times Square were closed to cars and the number of cyclists exploded. The city now plans to add 50 miles a year until all 1,800 miles are completed.

“We’ve spent a lot of time investing in our cycling infrastructure,” Janette Sadik-Khan, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation and a bicycle commuter, told CNBC last month. “If we’re going to accommodate a million more people in New York City by 2030, we’re not going to do it by having a million more cars, so we need to engineer sustainable forms of transportation into our network.”

The current strategy includes the continued addition of bicycle paths through parks and protected bike lanes along busy streets like Broadway, where barriers separate cars from cyclists. “Protected bike lanes are a design solution for our widest and most unruly avenues,” said Transportation Alternatives’ Samponaro.

In a city where 56 percent of automobile trips are less than three miles — often three miserable, traffic-filled miles — the new infrastructure is creating new reasons for people to exchange their keys or subway passes for a two-wheeler.

In the past 10 years, daily cycling in the city has increased by 123 percent, according to Transportation Alternatives, while a study by the city found that bicycle commuting is up 79 percent since 2007. This increase has occurred as the city has seen a dramatic drop in the number of cycling accidents and fatalities.

But it’s not only working stiffs populating those new bike lanes. Tourists have also discovered the ease with which they can get from the Brooklyn Bridge, say, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art — about five flat, scenic miles, and you can ride protected bike lanes most of the way.

Bicycle rental companies have sprouted around the city, especially near Central Park (which is car-free most of the day) and Riverside Park along the Hudson River. The next step, according to Transportation Alternatives, is to create a bike share program along the lines of those in Paris, Montreal and most recently London.

Offering a ride share, where people can pick up and drop off bikes at designated locations throughout the city, would provide flexibility in commuting options, as well as a way to ride in the city without having to park bikes in already tiny apartments.

“Public bike share holds the potential to only encourage this trend toward safer, saner streets for all New Yorkers,” Samponaro said.

On Sunday, people from around the world will get a snapshot of New York’s continuing transformation into one of the country’s most bikable cities. Bicycling magazine currently ranks the Big Apple ninth among cities of more than 100,000 people; Minneapolis is in first place.
The 100-mile route within the 300-square-mile city will take cyclists down car-free Broadway, along the ocean-side boardwalks of Brooklyn and through the twisting, wooded paths of Queens’ parkland. More important, it will be an opportunity for cyclists to interact with the city and show others just how much their numbers have grown.

“It is simply not as scary on the streets as it used to be,” said Ross French, who has been cycling in the city for 34 years and volunteering at the New York City Century for more than a decade. “I think drivers are more aware of the presence of bikers and are therefore less aggressive and more cooperative.”

Source: AOL

Car Charging

The Car Charging Group, Inc. (CCGI) this weekend announced a partnership with LAZ Parking in New York and New Jersey to begin outfitting its facilities with smart, electric vehicle charging stations.

The Miami-based CCGI installs and maintains electric vehicle charging stations in government-owned lots, and at commercial sites like shopping malls, hotels, stadiums and corporate parking garages. LAZ Parking operates over 1,300 parking facilities in 21 states and 99 cities. The LAZ Parking sites will be equipped by CCGI with smart, ChargePoint Level II, 240 volts charging stations, manufactured by Coulomb Technologies.

Smart charging stations, unlike those designed for home-garage use, have metering and e-commerce capabilities, and are visible online. Drivers can find smart charging stations on Google Maps, for example.

Coloumb Technologies, the recipient of a $15 million Department of Energy grant (funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation Electrification Initiative) is a leader in sales of charging stations in the U.S.

The company is, with some of its government grant money, setting up — sometimes temporarily free — public electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country, including New York City’s first.

General Electric and Toyota have announced that they are developing and will sell their own smart charging stations, as well.

The Department of Energy estimates that charging station locations in the U.S. will increase 41 times over between 2009 and 2012.

Citing consumer demand and a slew of new charging station technology, and vehicle models — like the Nissan Leaf, GM Chevy Volt, Fisker Karma, and Tesla Model S — Car Charging Group, Inc.’s president Andy Kinard said Saturday that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Obama administration fulfilled its goal: getting one million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

To recharge at public or commercially installed stations, Kinard says hybrid and electric vehicle owners should be prepared to pay about $3 per hour. He noted: “It’s hard to get 220 volts out into the streets. [Parking facilities] do have to charge more than it would cost an electric vehicle driver to plug in at home. But that’s nothing compared to gas prices now. And it will still be cheaper than what you spend driving an internal combustion engine.”

Where to Picnic in New York: Seven Scenic Spots Near NYC

Whether sitting under a cherry blossom tree in Brooklyn, in a sculpture garden facing the Manhattan skyline, or perched overlooking the Hudson River on a historical site, from April through October, consider eating alfresco at one of these picturesque places.

Here is a list of seven beautiful picnic spots in and around New York City for that next romantic date or rendezvous with friends.

Tarrytown | Riverfront Park | Hudson Valley
The Tarrytown waterfront—be it on a bench or on the rocks—is the perfect picnic spot for a lazy Sunday when you’ve got the urge to get out of the city. A quick, scenic ride on the Metro North leaves you right by the riverfront park, which offers stunning views of the Hudson River, Palisades, and Tappan Zee Bridge.
Picnic Tip:
Tarrytown’s Main Street is only a few minutes walk from the train station. Mint Premium Foods (18 Main Street; 914.703.6511) stocks specialty foods, including a fabulous cheese selection, from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. If you forget to bring that bottle of Sancerre or Pinot Noir, River View Wine and Spirits (34 Main Street; 914.631.9439) is just a few doors down.
How to get there:
Metro North out of Grand Central Station. Trains run frequently between Manhattan and Tarrytown, and fares run between $8 and $12 round-trip.

Governors Island | Picnic
The aptly named Picnic Point on Governors Island is the city picnicker’s dream come true. If you love the idea of a picnic but panic at the thought of what may be crawling underneath you, then this is the spot for you. Picnic Point’s eight acres are spotted with picnic benches, swings, and hammocks for relaxing after a leisurely meal.
Picnic Tip:
In 2009, Picnic Point became the host of a three-acre sustainable farm run by the non-profit organization Added Value. On weekends, you can tour the grounds of the Added Value farm and see how organic fruits and vegetables are grown, or stop by the Farm Stand for fresh produce and flowers.
How to get there:
Governors Island is accessible via the free ferry from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. While visitors are invited to bring their bikes to Governors Island Friday through Sunday, Bike and Roll runs a Free Fridays program throughout the summer months from either of the company’s two locations on the island. Adult and children’s bikes are free every Friday for up to one hour, between the hours of 10:00am and 3:30pm.

John Paul Jones Park | Bay Ridge, Brooklyn |
Also known as Fort Hamilton Park and Cannonball Park, the John Paul Jones Park is located at the very end of Bay Ridge, overlooking the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Hudson River. The park is home to a relic of Civil War weaponry, the Rodman guns. (A little piece of trivia: the gun weighed 58 tons and fired shots weighing 1,080 pounds.) If you’d like to take in stunning views of the New York Harbor along with your picnic-friendly snacks, bring your bike with you. Right across the street from the park is an entrance to the Shore Parkway, a bicycle and pedestrian path that hugs that south Brooklyn shoreline for some 13 miles.
How to get there:
R train to 95th Street

Fort Greene Park | Fort Greene, Brooklyn |
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the 19th century landscape designer of Central Park fame, Fort Greene Park is a welcome slice of greenery in one of Brooklyn’s hipper neighborhoods. It may not be as large and rolling as Prospect Park, but it has a rich history—Fort Greene Park was constructed on the site of a Revolutionary War fort—and you can catch an impressive view of downtown Brooklyn from any of its hills. If you’re feeling invigorated post-picnic, race your friends up the granite staircase leading to the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument.
How to get there:
R/N/Q/B/D train to Dekalb Avenue

Socrates Sculpture Garden | 32-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway | Queens | 718.956.1819 |
You’ll feel like a true New Yorker snacking on cheese and crackers amidst an outdoor art display by up-and-coming artists. Once an illegal dumping ground and riverside landfill, the Socrates Sculpture Garden has been transformed into a garden and unique exhibition space that encourages interaction between the visitors, artists, and their work.
Picnic Tips:
Coordinate your picnic with one of the Garden’s weekend workshops, fitness classes, or outdoor screenings (weather permitting). Visit the website for specific details on upcoming events; park and event admission are free.
How to get there:
N/W train to Broadway; F train to Queensbridge-21st Street

Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center | Bronx | 718.549.3200 |
Wave Hill boasts a 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades in the Bronx. Strolling the grounds of Wave Hill you’ll find much more than your ordinary flower garden. A wooded trail wraps around the outer edges of the park, where second-growth forest and meadow are being rehabilitated through integration with native plants. There is also a garden pool topped by picturesque water lilies and lotus plants, your own slice of Monet’s Giverny gardens in the Bronx. Admission is $8 for adults.
Picnic Tip:
If you’re planning a weekend picnic, Wave Hill offers free garden and Conservatory tours from their visitor’s center on Sundays at 2pm.
How to get there:
1 train to West 242nd Street; Metro North out of Grand Central Station. Trains run frequently between Manhattan and Riverdale, and fares run between $5 and $7 round-trip.

Boscobel House and Gardens | 1601 Route 9D, Garrison, NY | 845.265.3638 |
Home to summer’s Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Boscobel mansion dates back to 1808 and is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and breathtaking views of the Hudson River. Bring chairs, booze, a blanket, nibbles, and a camera, and pay just $9 to enjoy the grounds—and a unique quick escape from the city.
How to get there:
Take the 10-cent trolley from Cold Spring–which is accessible from Grand Central Station via the Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line to Cold Spring Station—where it leaves frequently from the Visitor’s Center.

Photo: Courtesy of Lee Gillen |  Written by Caitlin O’Connell

New York City’s Motto: I Heart Tap Water

NEW YORK — New York City is so proud of its tap water that the Bloomberg administration has come up with a product line to promote it as an affordable, sustainable alternative to bottled water, according to the New York Times.

The merchandise, which bears a NYC Water logo, ranges from glasses and T-shirts to coasters, decanters and water bottles and is available at CityStore, the city’s online shop for all things New York, the story stated.

Cas Holloway, New York City’s environmental protection commissioner, said: “Our high-quality drinking water not only quenches New Yorkers’ thirst, but is the not-so-secret ingredient in the bagels, pizza and thousands of other dishes that people come from around the world to get.”

According to the story, the water is so clean that it does not require filtration and comes from highly protected watersheds in Upstate New York.

The Environmental Protection Department oversees a daily supply of more than one billion gallons of water that serves more than nine million people, the story noted.

To reduce consumption of bottled water, New York City is also providing outdoor drinking water stations this summer connected to fire hydrants at parks, public plazas and other outdoor spaces, the story added.

Click here to read the complete story.

For related information, click here.

Keeping Times Square Cool

The New York City Department of Transportation has announced the winner of its reNEWable Times Square design competition, aimed to temporarily “refresh and revive” the streetscape of newly pedestrianized Times Square while plans for permanent reconstruction proceed (construction is slated for 1012).  Brooklyn artist Molly Dilworth‘s Cool Water, Hot Island was selected from 150 submitted designs for the pedestrian zones along Broadway from 47th to 42nd Streets.  The piece is a large-scale painted installation abstractly interpreting—and mitigating!—Manhattan’s heat island effect.  From NYCDOT’s release:

The proposed design’s color palette of striking blues and whites reflects more sunlight and absorb less heat – improving the look of these popular pedestrian plazas while making them more comfortable to sit in. The color and patterns evoke water, suggesting a river flowing through the center of Times Square, and they also provide a compelling visual counterpoint to the reds, oranges and yellows of the area’s signature marquees and billboards.

It isn’t the artist’s first brush with large-scale installations in the City: more of her work is viewable through her flickr streamCool Water will be installed in July.

Source : TreeHugger

Connecting the Built and Natural Environment

Summer Brings Cooling Public Art to New York City

Molly Dilworth, a Brooklyn-based artist, won the New York City Department of Transportation reNEWable Times Square design competition. The competition sought new design ideas for temporary surface treatments in Times Square. Dilworth’s winning project, “Cool Water, Hot Island,” will add a bold new temporary surface to the central plaza’s streetscape in mid-July.

According to TreeHugger, Dilworth’s design is both graphically compelling and educational — it helps raise awareness about the urban heat island effect and cities’ contribution to climate change. The design is ”composed of a graphical representation of NASA’s infrared satellite data of Manhattan and focuses on the urban heat-island effect, where cities tend to experience warmer temperatures than rural settings.”

The New York City Department of Transportation adds that the design will make Times Square more comfortable in the summer and add a counterpoint to the blitz of the billboards. ”The proposed design’s color palette of striking blues and whites reflects more sunlight and absorb less heat – improving the look of these popular pedestrian plazas while making them more comfortable to sit in. The color and patterns evoke water, suggesting a river flowing through the center of Times Square, and they also provide a compelling visual counterpoint to the reds, oranges and yellows of the area’s signature marquees and billboards.”

“Cool Water, Hot Island” is expected to unroll in Times Square by mid-July.

In another part of NYC, Governors Island just hosted Figment NYC, a weeklong festival focused on interactive, participatory art. Metropolis magazine wrote that the festival included artworks, and semi-permanent installations like a mini-golf course, sculpture garden, as well as “Living Pavilion,” the winner of this year’s City of Dreams pavilion design competition.

Created by New York architects Behrang Behin and Ann Ha, Living Pavilion is a “low-tech, zero-impact installation that employs reclaimed milk crates as the framework for growing a planted surface similar to a green wall. The pavilion’s assembly is simple and modular, relying on common materials such as heavy-duty packaging straps and weather-treated wood for its installation,” says Figment NYC. To provide respite from NYC’s humid summer, the pavilion was designed to be cool inside. “The pavilion offers a shaded environment that is maintained at a cooler temperature because of evapotranspiration from its planted surfaces.”

When the exhibition ends, the structure will be taken down piece by piece and consumed or reused. “As the vaulting form of the pavilion hits the ground, it unfolds into a mat of crates planted with crops that can be harvested and distributed to the community. At the end of the season, its modular design will allow easy disassembly, and distribution of the planted milk crates to the New York area for use in homes, public places, and community gardens.”

The Living Pavilion can be viewed on New York’s Governor’s Island until October 3.

Image credits (1) NYC Department of Transportation, (2) Figment NYC

Source : TheDirty

2030 Vision of Urban Transport

Our Cities Ourselves is on view from June 24 to September 11, 2010

Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place, NY, NY 10012

Our Cities Ourselves: The Future of Transportation in Urban Life explores the creation of better cities through better transportation and demonstrates what is possible when we design our cities for ourselves.

By 2030, sixty percent of the world’s population will live in cities. As cities become increasingly dense, personal automobiles will become less and less feasible transport options. Sustainable transportation will be the key to the health of our cities, our own health, and the health of the environment.

In honor of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s 25th anniversary, Our Cities Ourselves envisions sustainable urban futures for ten major global cities: Ahmedabad, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Dar es Salaam, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Mexico City, New York City and Rio de Janeiro. In each city, ITDP field offices and international architects propose ideal transportation futures grounded in current conditions. The proposals present safe, vibrant streets that promote social and economic equality, privilege mass transit, bicyclists and pedestrians, and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Exhibition Architects:
Ahmedabad, India | HCP Design and Project Management
Budapest, Hungary | Varos-Teampannon and Kozlekedes
Buenos Aires, Argentina | PALO Arquitectura Urbana
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | Adjaye Associates
Guangzhou, China | Urbanus Architecture & Design
Jakarta, Indonesia | Budi Pradono Architects
Johannesburg, South Africa | Osmond Lange Architects and Ikemeleng Architects
Mexico City, Mexico | arquitectura 911sc
New York City, United States | Terreform and Michael Sorkin Studio
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Fábrica Arquitetura and CAMPO

Source : AIANY |  OurCitiesOurselves

How Green Is My iPad?


With e-readers like Apple’s new iPad and Amazon’s Kindle touting their vast libraries of digital titles, some bookworms are bound to wonder if tomes-on-paper will one day become quaint relics. But the question also arises, which is more environmentally friendly: an e-reader or an old-fashioned book?

To find the answer, we turned to life-cycle assessment, which evaluates the ecological impact of any product, at every stage of its existence, from the first tree cut down for paper to the day that hardcover decomposes in the dump. With this method, we can determine the greenest way to read.

(A note about e-readers: some technical details — for instance, how those special screens are manufactured — are not publicly available and these products vary in their exact composition. We’ve based our estimates on a composite derived from available information. It’s also important to keep in mind that we’re focusing on the e-reader aspect of these devices, not any other functions they may offer.)

One e-reader requires the extraction of 33 pounds of minerals. That includes trace amounts of exotic metals like columbite-tantalite, often mined in war-torn regions of Africa. But it’s mostly sand and gravel to build landfills; they hold all the waste from manufacturing wafer boards for the integrated circuits. An e-reader also requires 79 gallons of water to produce its batteries and printed wiring boards, and in refining metals like the gold used in trace quantities in the circuits.

A book made with recycled paper consumes about two-thirds of a pound of minerals. (Here again, the greatest mineral use is actually gravel, mainly for the roads used to transport materials throughout the supply chain.) And it requires just 2 gallons of water to make the pulp slurry that is then pressed and heat-dried to make paper.

FOSSIL FUELS The e-reader’s manufacture, along a vast supply chain of consumer electronics, is relatively energy-hungry, using 100 kilowatt hours of fossil fuels and resulting in 66 pounds of carbon dioxide. For a single book, which, recycled or not, requires energy to form and dry the sheets, it’s just two kilowatt hours, and 100 times fewer greenhouse gases.

HEALTH The unit for comparison here is a “disability adjusted life-year,” the length of time someone loses to disability because of exposure to, say, toxic material released into the air, water and soil, anywhere along the line. For both the book and the e-reader, the main health impacts come from particulate emissions like nitrogen and sulfur oxides, which travel deep into our lungs, worsening asthma and chronic coughing and increasing the risk of premature death. The adverse health impacts from making one e-reader are estimated to be 70 times greater than those from making a single book.

If you order a book online and have it shipped 500 miles by air, that creates roughly the same pollution and waste as making the book in the first place. Driving five miles to the bookstore and back causes about 10 times the pollution and resource depletion as producing it. You’d need to drive to a store 300 miles away to create the equivalent in toxic impacts on health of making one e-reader — but you might do that and more if you drive to the mall every time you buy a new book.

If you like to read a book in bed at night for an hour or two, the light bulb will use more energy than it takes to charge an e-reader, which has a highly energy-efficient screen. But if you read in daylight, the advantage tips to a book.

If your e-reader ends up being “recycled” illegally so that workers, including children, in developing countries dismantle it by hand, they will be exposed to a range of toxic substances. If it goes through state-of-the-art procedures — for example, high-temperature incineration with the best emissions controls and metals recovery — the “disability adjusted life-year” count will be far less for workers.

If your book ends up in a landfill, its decomposition generates double the global warming emissions and toxic impacts on local water systems as its manufacture


Some of this math is improving. More and more books are being printed with soy-based inks, rather than petroleum-based ones, on paper that is recycled or sourced from well-managed forests and that was produced at pulp mills that don’t use poisons like chlorine to whiten it. The electronics industry, too, is trying to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, and to improve working conditions and worker safety throughout its far-flung supply chains.

So, how many volumes do you need to read on your e-reader to break even?

With respect to fossil fuels, water use and mineral consumption, the impact of one e-reader payback equals roughly 40 to 50 books. When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books; with human health consequences, it’s somewhere in between.

All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library.

Source : The New York Times

Solar Energy : New York City’s Future as a Sustainable City

While our country confronts the enviromental disaster in the Gulf Coast, we’re reminded yet again of the need totransition to clean energy sources. New York City and State is taking the lead by constructing the ‘Solar Pipeline’, which includes a Solar Map and Solar Empowerment Zones that will integrate solar energy into our nation’s largest city and most complex grid.

New York City and Sustainable CUNY have created three Solar Empowerment Zones, strategically selected areas where solar power systems are most beneficial and technically viable, and where development of solar power will be encouraged. Solar power is a reliable, renewable source of electricity for New York City that reduces demand on the City’s electrical grid.

New York City has over 1.6 billion square feet of rooftops.

The three Solar Empowerment Zones – on the East Shore of Staten Island, in Downtown Brooklyn, and in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint-Gateway section-were designed to reduce peak electricity demand and the associated pollution from dirty plants that operate when demand is at its highest, while also potentially deferring or eliminating the need for costly upgrades to the electrical system.

Solar Panel Tax Abatements & Installations

Record Number of New Yorkers Have Applied for Solar Panel Abatements in 2010. To encourage the use of sustainable technology, the City offers property tax abatements to property owners that install solar panels on their building’s rooftops.

This year, property owners will receive a property tax abatement of 35% of the eligible expenditures over four years with a maximum abatement of $62,500 per year for four years or the building’s annual tax liability, whichever is less.

Under the solar panel tax abatement program, solar panels have been installed at 25 buildings across the City, five times the number of systems approved and installed last year. Savings from these installations vary on the size and type of the building.  A single-family house can save approximately $2,600 a year on energy costs.  Property owners can also receive rebates from their utility company.

Interested in buying a new green (LEED) certified condo recently built or under construction in Manhattan?  Go to nycnewdevelopments fill out the buyer form and write green in the comment section. I will send you email listings of green condos that match your buying criteria.

Source : ActiveRain

New York’s Iconic Subway Map Gets Makeover