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From high roads to high streets

By John Dales

By their very nature, and also as a result of human nature, no complex urban street will ever be to everyone’s liking. Nevertheless, these two schemes give it a very good go, and either could have won the award in another year. But it’s always good to see town centres being given back to the people who matter most...

Investing to make town centres the destinations of choice again

By Andrew Forster

The plight of town centres is damaging the viability of bus networks and limiting opportunities for households without cars. John Parmiter and Keith Mitchell of consultant Peter Brett Associates tell Andrew Forster how they can once again become vibrant places

Forget the shortest route across a city; new algorithm finds the most beautiful

If you prefer beautiful routes over short ones, GPS mapping algorithms are of little use. But Yahoo researchers have come up with an approach that could change that.Often, pedestrians want the quietest route or the most beautiful but, if they turn to a mapping applic ation, they’ll get little help. That could change now thanks to the work of Daniele Quercia at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona, Spain, and a couple of pals. These guys have worked out how to measure the “beauty” of specific locations within cities and then designed an algorithm that automatically chooses a route between two locations in a way that maximizes the beauty along it. “The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant,” they say.

Misunderstanding density: why we are building the wrong sort of cities

By Dr Christopher Boyko

Successful city planners don't just look at the population size, but also how citizens in these communities work together, Perhaps cities with good densities are not necessarily high-density or low-density, but are ones in which more people with a vested interest in the welfare of the urban fabric and urban experience have the opportunity to make or influence decisions.

Defining urban and rural areas: new tool enables more effective analysis of different, but similar, spatial concepts

A new report aims to harmonise the definition of cities and rural areas using the new degree of urbanisation (DEGURBA) classification. This classification differentiates between three area types: densely, intermediate and thinly populated. This approach, based on the population grid as a new source of information, creates the opportunity to reorganise and harmonise a number of different, but similar, spatial concepts. The report describes the development of the methodology regarding the degree of urbanisation and it contains several recommendations.

Walking back to healthiness – and cycling too. It’s high time we started prescribing, not just talking about, ‘miracle cures'

Transport and health: as Transport for London publishes what it calls “the world’s first Transport Health Action Plan”, John Dales explores the issues. Transport is the main way that people stay physically active, as the main way people stay active is by going about their regular business – in ways that involve walking or cycling

The Government says it wants our views on local authority parking; even though its mind seems made up

Local authority parking: the latest consultation is, sadly, flawed. The first main paragraph of the consultation document refers to ‘local authority parking strategies’, views are only invited in relation to ‘local authority parking enforcement’, and the feedback forms do not permit views to be expressed other than in respect of ten enforcement-focused questions

Street justice: the balance of power on the UK’s streets is back to front and it’s high time for change

A vehicle with a blind spot capable of swallowing up twelve bicycles is, by any reasonable definition, unfit for use on streets where cyclists are entitled to be present; and especially so in a city where the Mayor is actively trying to increase the number of cyclists on its streets. John Dales discusses the need for better street justice

New London cycle design standards turn mayor’s vision into practitioner detail

A new method for assessing a street’s level of service for cyclists lies at the heart of Transport for London’s draft London Cycling Design Standards. Andrew Forster spoke to Paul Lavelle, one of the standard’s authors, says Andrew Forster

Planners say they’re needed to solve the housing crisis, so why don’t they promote section 106?

The RTPI says planners are essential to increased housing output, pointing to their submission to the Lyons Review. But why do they ignore the potential of planning gain created through section 106 agreements? Read more on Red Brick