Friday, June 29, 2012

Quarterly Fun

Three months ago, I wrote an April Fools’ blog post with links to some fun, whimsical, and/or quirky elements of urbanism.  I’ve since realized that there’s way too much urban weirdness to be saved for an annual post.  So, starting today, April Fools’ Day will be a quarterly event on this blog.  July 1, October 1, and January 1, or thereabouts, will serve as quarterly updates to April Fools’ Day.  Below are some of the best links collected during spring 2012.

In the leadoff position is an Atlantic Cities interview with the Urbanism Avenger.  The Avenger chooses to combine his love of urbanism and comics into a super-hero.  Using his Twitter account he engages in “heroic advocacy” of urbanism.  It’s good fun.  However, his admission that his daily job is in the planning department of a major city, but he needs to keep his urbanist sentiments undercover is unfortunate.  I understand the reality of the situation, but what a shame that a well-trained professional planner who believes in urbanism can only express his opinions when wearing a mask.

Next, the photo is of a bicycle-pedestrian path in Burgundy.  It’s a perplexing approach to wayfinding.  The French must have a different sense of the international “prohibited” sign.  Otherwise, my interpretation is that both walking and bicycling are prohibited on a bicycle-pedestrian path.  My cousin was the photographer.   (That’s his wife in the foreground.)  He advises me that the road crossing behind his wife is used by drivers at a relatively high speeds.  As the crossing priority is given to vehicles, perhaps the signage is meant to warn bicyclists to dismount and walkers to take a close hold of small children.  I have no other explanation.

The Carmichael Collective offers an off-beat take on plant tags, proposing the tags that would apply to typical street furniture.   (This link was provided by a regular reader of this blog.  Thanks, Dan.)

From New Orleans is a video of a faux village where all the homes double as musical instruments, or at least noisemakers.  The performers seem to having a fine time, but the audience seems nonplussed.

The Restless Urbanist is a fine urbanism blog.  It gets even better when the Restless Urbanist’s wife offers her insights on being married to a new urbanist.  The comments are also entertaining.

This photo gallery of derelict buildings in Gary, Indiana isn’t fun, whimsical, or quirky.  But the photos are great.  And they demonstrate what happens when cities lose the ability to regenerate and to reclaim underused properties.

Last is this video of a day in the life of Venice.  I would have enjoyed seeing more of the pedestrian life in Venice, but still found myself smiling in recollection at vaporettos cruising on the Grand Canal.  I spent two weeks in Venice in 2007.  The time gave me urban insights that continue to affect my daily life.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated.  Please comment below or email me.  And thanks for reading. - Dave Alden (

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