Two leaps forward

How’d another few weeks disappear? Recent news: the Wicker Park Bucktown Master Plan, a three-year effort by WPB that I initiated and chaired the steering committee for, will receive the American Planning Association’s 2010 National Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach. Our public outreach strategy centered on three Open Houses, designed as a fun and interactive way for residents and visitors to learn about the plan and share their ideas on their own schedule. Credit for the creative campaign that supported the Open Houses goes to Country Club Chicago for print and transit ads, and Interface Studio (our planners) for their video installation.

In an earlier post, I wrote about the potential of the PEIRurban sensing” project developed at UCLA and featured at Wired’s NextFest. Now this ubiquitous-computing strategy has found an even better vehicle, with the MIT Senseable City Lab’s Copenhagen Wheel. The customizable wheel incorporates a hub that goes far beyond three speeds: it adds ambient air quality, noise, and temperature sensors along with GPRS data and Bluetooth wireless to share that information with the network and your smartphone. What’s even better, it adds dynamic regenerative braking (with a motor, batteries, and torque sensor) — another long-held dream of mine. (Too bad their test bike looks like a ghost fixie.)

The Bluetooth connection might be an interesting way of integrating place-based rewards — a method that a shopowner could “validate” someone’s bike trip just like car-parking charges. The University of Minnesota will soon launch a program wherein frequent bike commuters with RFID tags on their bikes will get rewarded with discounts at an on-campus bike station, for example — and, if they’re employees, that benefit can come from pre-tax income under the new bike commuter benefits.

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