Walking – the Talk-My First TEDx!


I was invited in 2016 to prepare a TEDx talk on Walking  in Carson City Nevada

Preparing for a TEDx talk is different from anything else you will ever do, as you speak for twenty minutes on a subject you are passionate about without notes to a live audience and seven roving cameras.

I personally feel that creating walkable environments is the right thing to do and is the best way to organize a healthy, sociable, interesting and sufficiently dense area for all to live in and thrive. While TEDx works best if you are talking directly about your personal experience, I wanted to talk about walkability, why it is important, and to highlight the stories of three extraordinary people who I have worked closely with in  undertaking amazing initiatives transforming walking in their neighbourhoods. And in Vancouver, those “neighbourhoods” have populations of about 45,000 people.

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We are in a time where there are planning “experts” that talk and tell us about how to live better in cities. I believe that the people living in those communities are the experts, and just as Jane Jacobs said, neighbourhoods lead the way.  I am so grateful to these citizens for everything they have taught me-and continue to coach me on. We truly live with community heroes in our midst.

I also wanted to express my thanks and gratitude to the Carson City TEDx committee for inviting me to speak in Carson City.  It was a tremendous experience.

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Sandy James, planner, part-time Price Tags editor and author, speaks to TEDxCarsonCity.

The transformative power of walking:  why walking is good for your bottom line.

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Elon Musk~Boring Across America

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It’s no surprise to see that Elon Musk is getting a flat review for his concept of tunnelling across North America as this article from Fast Company discusses. There is a growing uneasiness of someone trying to solve a problem that never really exists. The aptly named Boring Company plans  a transcontinental tunnel to make personal cars go faster and quicker, so named by transportation writer  Jarrett Walker as “elite projection, the belief among relatively fortunate and influential people who what those people find convenient or attractive is good for the society as a whole.”

When Culver City’s city council heard a 45 minute presentation on the first leg of the tunnel between Hawthorne California to West Los Angeles, it may have dawned on them that this new tunnel proposal replicates Musk’s own personal journey to work from Los Angeles to Hawthorne. “Conceived by Musk in 2016 in…

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Traffic Calming the “Burbs” of London

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residential20street20with20modal20filter2028source20lb20waltham20forest20mini20holland20bid29An interesting way to change the nature of traffic is written in this article by The Standard. Imagine  Walthamstow England (in East London)  which introduced partial road closures along twelve main roads. Traffic which was over 20,000 vehicles per day was cut by 50 per cent. The aim of the project was to reduce short cutting through the neighbourhoods, making roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

This project was part of  past Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s plan to bring cycling culture to  the suburbs, with 30 million pounds available to run these types of projects in Waltham, Kingston and Enfield. And surprise! “Traffic evaporation” occurred, where fewer trips were taken by car and less rat running happened in neighbourhoods.

Collisions were also reduced with none being reported after the partial closures, compared with 15 in a three-year period.  The project was backed by local residents but had some pushback…

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New Taxes on Three Million Dollar Metro Vancouver Houses

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The NDP Provincial government introduced two initiatives that will impact housing in the three million dollar and up price point. As reported by Global News the Property Transfer Tax that is due when a house is sold will go from three to five per cent on these properties, bringing in an estimated $81 extra million dollars annually  to the province. And where are those houses? They are predominantly in Point Grey, the University Endowment Lands, and in White Rock.

As well, school taxes will be increased for these houses with an increased tax of  0.2 per cent on the assessed value. If the house is worth over 4 million dollars, that tax will be 0.4 per cent. Duke of Data Andy Yan with the City Program at Simon Fraser University calls this initiative “policy innovation towards progressive wealth taxation” stating We’re finally increasing the parking and club…

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NYC~When You Get A Ticket for Not Biking in the Bike Lane~Casey Neistat

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From planetary scientist Dr. Kat Volk comes this oldie but goodie Guardian article about a cyclist that was ticketed for-wait for it-not travelling in the bike lane. Casey Neistat was so incensed, he created a video that has not only gone viral, it has been called a “great piece of gonzo filmmaking”.

The backstory here is that the New York Police Department announced late last year that they were going to get tough on cyclists’ infractions of the law. And they meant it. First, there was the controversy of the ticket blitz in Central Park, where cops were on duty before dawn to nab bikers training on the park’s closed loop road. Eventually, after a strong pushback from park users and residents and the bike community, the cops backed off that policy and an uneasy truce reigns. But elsewhere, the new approach continues: according to the New York Post, the…

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The Legacy of Autonomous Vehicles? Congesting Cities!

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Allison Arieff in her New York Times signature style  nails the conversation down on why Autonomous Vehicles can certainly drive themselves, but may also serve to just further congest our cities.

The twentieth century has been about technological advances in machines and speed, and that has spilled over in how streets are used and occupied. Streets in the early 1900’s were part of  public life, where people sat on porches and stoops, meandered across streets, and used streets for all modes of transportation from foot, horse to rail tram. It was only when the automobile became popular were other activities on streets relegated to unfortunate raised sidewalk streets while motordom reigned supreme.

Despite car manufacturer’s utopian vision of autonomous vehicles providing freedom from the chore of actually driving the car, lessening accidents and providing seamless access to places, one twentieth century reality will remain~these are still vehicles, and vehicles…

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Place Making Where You Least Expect~Reclaiming Industrial Space for Parks

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From Park People.ca and Ken Greenberg  comes the video by Garrick Mason  “Something New from Something Old”  describing some unique and some familiar concepts in making great public spaces. Using conversations with urbanists in New York City and in Toronto, the film explores how low density streets can give up much space for the car, but space for humans walking and biking is still a street fight. Opportunities for more green space has come with the “glacial recedence of industrial uses that have revealed new opportunities. Eric Landau with the Brooklyn Trust describes how the area under DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) has been transformed from industrial to park space. With ten per cent of the area being developed to cover the operational and maintenance costs of the new Brooklyn Park, former five acre industrial docking piers have been transformed into park experiences, each with their own…

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Modernist Vancouver Fire Halls Going Going Gone…

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There is a lot of history in Vancouver Fire Halls and retired fireman Alex Matches has documented and written about much of it. There are political stories, where firemen in the City of Vancouver in the early 1900s were not allowed to “cross the line” into neighbouring Point Grey to put out a house fire. And there were still a few amazing early stations to go through even twenty years ago.  One located on east of Main Street is now demolished~but it had a circular wooden ramp inside for the fire horses to walk up as they were  bedded down on the second floor in standing stalls. The standing stalls areas were still there, along with the cribbing marks made by bored horses teething on the wood. In its construction and its use, it was a thing of beauty, something we would have marvelled at today. It was demolished for…

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