Headlines 

Risotto, robotics and virtual reality: how Canada created the world’s best libraries

As libraries across the world battle for survival, one system has embraced the digital age and in Toronto, books take a backseat In the lobby of the downtown branch of Britain has closed hundreds since 2010, reduced hours in others and replaced many paid librarians with volunteers. In Belgium, an advocacy group called staff per visitor has fallen across the board since 2012, and circulation and visits are dropping. The disruption of Silicon Valley in which Uber replaces taxis, Airbnb replaces hotels and Netflix replaces video stores has many governments…

Read More
Headlines 

Save the Scooters, Redesign the Streets, and Save San Francisco

The scooters have disappeared from San Francisco. In anticipation of regulations that took effect today, Bird, Lime Bike, and Spin have warehoused their fleets of the shared electric two-wheelers. They won’t be able to redeploy them unless the city grants them a special permit, which could take the better part of the month. Good riddance, many will say. The city should cap their numbers, control their behavior, or, better yet, incinerate the whole lot. They and their hubristic riders are a menace, terrorists of the sidewalk. That’s why I smear…

Read More
Headlines 

The borrowers: why Finland’s cities are havens for library lovers

Helsinkis state-of-the-art Oodi library will stand opposite parliament and boast a cinema, recording studio and makerspace. Its a perfect fit for a literate nation taking public learning to the next level A library card was the first thing that was mine, that I had ever owned, says Nasima Razmyar. The daughter of a former Afghan diplomat, Razmyar arrived in Revolutionising the library artists impressions of the design for Oodi, including (clockwise): the exterior, the top floor childrens area and the recording studio In recognition of that fact, at a time…

Read More
Headlines 

Why Traffic-Choked Nashville Said ‘No Thanks’ to Public Transit

Nashville is growing. It’s gridlocked. Car commuters in the Grand Ole Stopry spend an average of 33 hours a year stuck in traffic. And its voters just shot down a $5.2 billion transit improvement plan. Supporters of the referendum—including the mayor, the local Metropolitan Transit Authority, and various pro-transit groups—billed it as a necessary fix if the city is to continue growing without becoming ever more clogged, rein in hazardous emissions, and make it easier for everyone, including those who can't drive, to get around. A yes vote would have…

Read More
Headlines 

A Bid to Solve Californias Housing Crisis Could Redraw How Cities Grow

Scott Wiener, the California state senator representing San Francisco, has a pretty good idea for how to save the world. In fact, sitting in a coffee shop in his city’s Financial District, Wiener seems downright perplexed that anyone would be against it. Here’s the idea: Build more housing. So, with his fellow senator Nancy Skinner, he authored a bill, SB 827, that overwrites some metropolitan zoning—putting policies that had been in the hands of cities under the authority of state government—to allow medium-sized multistory and multiunit buildings near transit stops.…

Read More
Headlines 

So, BMW Wants to Build Networks of Elevated Cycling Paths

In its first century as a company, BMW has made industrial engines, motorcycles, Steve Urkel’s Isetta, and a whole lot of cars. Now, it wants to build something altogether new: an elevated bike path. This week, the automaker’s somewhat redundantly named Research, New Technologies, Innovations division, based in Mountain View, Tokyo, and Seoul, revealed its idea of building a network of bike lanes above street level. It’s called the E3 Way—that's for elevated, electric, and efficient—and BMW says it could help growing cities everywhere fight congestion and ease emissions by…

Read More
Headlines 

Why the U.S. and Turkey Are Suddenly in a Major Standoff

Relations between the U.S. and Turkey, allies since the aftermath of World War II, have soured in the 15 months since an Fethullah Gulen, whom the U.S. has so far refused to extradite. Further increasing tensions, the U.S. and Turkey are at odds over the war in Syria. This backdrop may help explain why the arrest of a U.S. consular employee in Turkey, on charges of involvement in the coup attempt, blew up so quickly into a major diplomatic rift, with the two nations suspending visa services for each other’s…

Read More
Headlines 

Revealed: every Londoner breathing dangerous levels of toxic air particle

Exclusive: Every area of the capital breaches global standards for PM2.5 pollution particles, with most areas exceeding levels by at least 50% The scale of Londons air pollution crisis was laid bare on Wednesday, with new figures showing that every person in the capital is breathing air that exceeds global guidelines for one of the most dangerous toxic particles. damaging type of particle known as PM2.5. It also found that 7.9 million Londoners nearly 95% of the capitals population live in areas that exceed the limit by 50% or more.…

Read More
Headlines 

This Is Chaos: Day 5 in Storm-Ravaged, Blacked-Out Puerto Rico

A nursing home in San Juan desperately pleaded for diesel as its power generator ran low. An elderly man was carried out on a stretcher after going a week without dialysis. Children wearing nothing but diapers camped out on balconies to stay cool. Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images Hurricane Maria, which smashed into the island five days ago and devastated the power grid run by Source: NOAA The lack of phone and internet access isn’t helping. Puerto Ricans pulled over along highways over the weekend to take advantage of the rare…

Read More
Headlines 

‘We hate the headscarf’: can women find freedom in Tehran’s female-only parks?

Parks exclusively for women are popping up in Iranian cities, but critics are divided over whether this is just another ploy to keep them hidden in public I love to take off my headscarf, says Laleh, 47, a hairdresser from Tehran. Shes sitting with a group of friends around one of the many picnic tables in the Mothers Paradise, a park in the Iranian capital. Shes wearing a fringed mint-green T-shirt through which you can see her bare stomach. We can wear airy clothes here, and thats a freedom I…

Read More
Headlines 

How skaters make cities safer and the fight to save the Southbank skatepark

Skateboarders are the shock troops of gentrification, making no-go areas secure and then seeing their newly valuable sites destroyed when the developers move in. Can one much-loved London spot buck the trend? It was like a part of my soul was destroyed, says Ian Davross Scudds. He is talking about the moment in 2004 when two-thirds of the skateboarding site at the Southbank Centre in London was fenced off and destroyed without warning. Four decades of skateboarding history went with it. Now 54, Davross has been skating at the Southbank…

Read More
Headlines 

Lessons from the fast lane: does this study prove car-pooling works?

When Jakarta ditched its controversial three-in-one car-sharing rule many in the city expected the traffic to get better. It didnt. A Harvard and MIT study analysed before-and-after Google traffic data to find out what happened Driving in Jakarta at rush hour is something of a nightmare. The citys 9.6 million population swells each work day with an additional some measures, Jakarta has the worst traffic in the world. Others only put it in jockeys who would stand just outside the enforcement area and offer to join a single-occupancy vehicle for…

Read More
Headlines 

‘The worst it’s been’: children continue to swim as raw sewage floods Gaza beach

For most of the 2 million people in this overcrowded strip of land largely cut off from the outside world the beach and sea are the only affordable form of recreation. The only option now is to swim and even fish in filthy water It is high summer on Gaza Citys beach. A horse and cart patrols the shore selling brightly coloured swimming rings. A small boat is giving joy rides out to sea. Families sit on chairs while a few children play in the water. Normally, in the midst…

Read More
Headlines 

Hipster-bashing in California: angry residents fight back against gentrification

In a state where house prices are twice the US average, artists and developers are feeling the ire of a growing movement to defend our homes and our culture Half a century after the summer of love and hippie harmony, California is experiencing a summer of loathing and hipster-bashing. Not just hipsters. Artists, techies, realtors, business owners, developers, all are feeling the wrath of a burgeoning and in some cases radicalising anti-gentrification movement. In the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Boyle Heights, protesters are targeting a new cafe with placards, chants…

Read More