• Catherine Tumber urges urbanists to expand the way they think about the city to include midsize cities. She argues that these cities, often overlooked in commentary about our urban future, in fact have much to teach us—and might lead the way to a lasting recovery. The article would be more accessible after a rewrite by our friends at The Blue Review but it really applies to planning for Boise, even though the author specifically seems to exclude midsize cities in the West.
  • There are some clear issues with the way the data is aggregated but this report from TomTom about congestionis fascinating. If you look at the actual report you will see that congestion in almost all cities is the least of a problem during the Monday evening and Friday morning commute.TomTom announced the results of its latest Congestion Index, which measures traffic congestion in North American cities between July and September 2012. The third Congestion Index examines the congestion in 57 metropolitan areas with a population of more than 950,000, and found Los Angeles continued to be the most congested city in North America. On average, journey times in Los Angeles are 34 percent longer than when traffic in the city is flowing freely and 76 percent longer during evening rush hour.TomTom’s Congestion Index is uniquely based on real travel time data captured by vehicles driving the entire road network. TomTom’s traffic database contains more than six trillion data measurements and is growing by five billion measurements every day. The average congestion level for all the North American cities analyzed between July and September 2012 is 19 percent.Other notable findings in this edition of the Congestion Index found that the top five most congested cities lie in the west with Los Angeles (1), Vancouver (2), San Francisco (3), Honolulu (4) and Seattle (4) topping the list.
  • Fascinating article about the impact of school design on learning outcomes. According to the actual abstract in the journal Building and Environment:

    “Hypotheses as to positive impacts on learning were developed for 10 design parameters within a neuroscience framework of three design principles. These were tested using data collected on 751 pupils from 34 varied classrooms in seven different schools in the UK. The multi-level model developed explained 51% of the variability in the learning improvements of the pupils, over the course of a year. However, within this a high level of explanation (73%) was identified at the “class” level, linked entirely to six built environment design parameters, namely: colour, choice, connection, complexity, flexibility and light.”

    A brief version with links to the full article can be found here.

  • On food trucks and the issues they are facing in Chicago. Similar issues and controversies are occurring all through the US.According to Florida’s Sun Sentinel:

    In Sunrise, Florida, a commissioner with a restaurant down the street from City Hall, has said he wants an outright ban on gourmet food trucks citywide. “We have so many restaurants struggling to stay afloat …, I see it as a disadvantage to the businesses that the food trucks come in here.” Talk of a ban has sparked an outcry from local food truck owners and onlookers irked by what they call an attempt to stamp out competition. Some argue a ban on food trucks would be downright illegal. “The government is not allowed to make protectionist laws that protect one business over another,” said Justin Pearson, executive director of the Institute for Justice, Florida Chapter. “That’s unconstitutional.”

    On Dec. 6, Pearson sent commissioners a letter saying the civil liberties law firm has already filed suits challenging laws in Hialeah, Chicago and El Paso, Texas that restrict vendors from operating within a certain distance of their brick-and-mortar competitors. A city spokeswoman said Sunrise doesn’t have a true ban on food trucks. “We have a ban on outdoor sales,” she said.

    • Some more interesting data about Idaho from volunteering in America study, with link to interactive map:
      • 38.8 percent of Idahoans volunteered in 2011
      • 58.4 volunteer hours per Idahoan
      • 72.9 percent of Idahoans do favors for their neighbors
      • 92.8 percent eat dinner with their family a few times a week or more
      • 58 percent discuss politics a few times a month or more
      • 455,920 Idahoans volunteered in 2011
      • 68.7 million hours of volunteer service logged in Idaho in 2011
      • $1.4 billion of service
  • Very interesting graphic about immigration to Idahofrom StateImpact Idaho. If you download the actual data, you will see that in 2009-2010 almost 61,571 people moved to Idaho while 41,624 people moved out of Idaho. That gives Idaho a net migration of 19,947 people or about 55 additional residents a day.About 22,000 people, or well over half of the people that left the state, moved to just 4 states: Washington, California, Utah and Oregon. Of the people moving to Idaho, about 6800 or about one third, came from just two states: California and Washington.

Bonus links from Amanda Johnson:

Top 10 planning books, 2013, via Planetizen
8 most interesting ideas to revolutionize urban farms via The Atlantic Cities

Get more links from the Boise State Department of Community and Regional Planning on Facebook.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Boise State University or the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs.