Yes, LA’s Vermont Avenue Needs A Subway

With many tens of billions of dollars in the bank, LA’s city planners are hard at work laying out an ambitious array of transit improvements for the county’s ten million citizens. More than a dozen projects, each of which would be a show-stopper in another major city, are planned over the next fifteen years, essentially a doubling of the region’s transit millage.

More recently, however, the conversation has shifted to the type of infrastructure that is most appropriate for specific corridors and neighborhoods. Opportunities to transform a city only come so often, and thus planners and the citizenry alike want to ensure that infrastructure projects are built to adequately serve the needs of a growing metropolis. Nowhere is this debate drawing more attention than on Vermont Avenue.

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Charging Bull’s Artist Doesn’t Understand Public Space

Few urban public art installations in recent history have attracted as much controversy as the Financial District’s “Fearless Girl” statue. Funded by State Street Global Advisors as part of a larger publicity push to get more women onto corporate boards, the popular installation was intended to run for about a week, but has since been extended, by popular demand, until 2018. There are even petitions, which are attracting significant support, that are advocating making the petition permanent

Others, however, have taken issue with the statue. Some, for example, consider it problematic for the girl to be facing off against a symbol of the American economy, while others have wondered why a girl is depicted, not a professional woman. Provocative art almost always draws these kinds of reactions, especially pieces that are meant to comment on socially relevant topics; the fact that these conversations are taking place should be viewed as validation for the power of art and sculpture in the public sphere.

One source of opposition, however, was unforeseen. The author of the “Charging Bull” sculpture has harshly criticized the new installation for fundamentally altering the meaning of his artwork. He has demanded that the city remove “Fearless Girl” and threatened legal action.

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Dockless Bikeshare Coming Soon to NYC

The New York Post is reporting that up to five dockless bikeshare operators are slated to begin operations here in New York over the coming weeks and months. The companies, which include Bluegogo and Spin, two companies that recently launched in the Bay Area with very limited success, are targeting portions of the region that are uncovered Citibike.

The tone of the Post’s coverage comes close to encapsulating the level of trepidation and concern that civic leaders have when it comes to these services:

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Two Major Setbacks for New York’s Homeless Shelter Plan

Last week, in Downtown Brooklyn, a judge issued a stinging injunction against the city’s plan to open a homeless shelter on Crown Height’s Bergen Street. The planned shelter, the first of 90 new locations, would house 104 men over the age of 62. Since being announced, the facility has encountered fierce opposition from local residents who complain that there are already too many shelters in the neighborhood.

Other proposed shelters have also been announced for the community, with predictable reactions. On Friday, city councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and residents blasted the city’s plan to house homeless families at a residential building currently under construction on 267 Rogers Avenue.

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Houston Inches Closer to Bike Overhaul

Houston is poised for a major investment in bicycle transportation.

Last week the city’s lawmakers approved a plan to add more than 1,200 miles of bicycle lanes and trails to the nation’s fourth largest city. Though the $300 million program has yet to receive funding, the city council’s approval is a critical step. Possible funding sources include private donations, voter approved bonds, along with incorporation into existing (and funded) capital projects.

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Bluegogo Suspends Bay Area Service: Five Observations

After much initial hubub and curiosity, Bluegogo, a venture Chinese bikeshare start-up, announced it would suspend operations in the Bay Area market. The move comes amid heavy scrutiny from city officials, bike advocates and public space managers, especially with regard to the company’s somewhat notorious operational model, which consists of unloading tens of thousands of bikes into the urban streetscape, with little regard for how they’re organized or maintained.

Though company officials are maintaining a brave public face, this development can only be viewed as a substantial setback. San Francisco, with its bike-friendly and tech- forward culture, was viewed as one of the most promising locations for this new breed of bikeshare start-ups, and these early setbacks don’t bode well for future competitiveness in the market.

Here are five observations:

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Judge Temporarilly Blocks New Crown Heights Shelter

On Friday, a judge temporarily blocked the planned opening of a new homeless shelter on 1173 Bergen Street in Crown Heights. The ruling stands until another judge can issue a more permanent ruling, which will decide the project’s fate. DNA Info has a great write-up about the judge’s order, which you can read here

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