Tag Archives: Portland

Shenzhen by Bike

Shenzhen in 1980. Photo courtesy of nicomusings.com

Shenzhen skyline in 2013. Photo courtesy of twistedsifter.com

                             By  JP McNeil – Shenzhen fascinates me. The transformation from a collection of farming and fishing villages into a megacity over the past 30 years – in my lifetime – is still hard for me to wrap my head around. I understand it conceptually, but as I walk around the city, I have a hard time imagining what it would have looked like, say, as I entered kindergarten. Historic photos help, but not a lot. With so much for a planner to focus on, I’m a bit surprised to find myself writing about bicycling and bike infrastructure in Shenzhen. Not that I don’t like bikes – I’m a fair-weather bike commuter and I love trekking around town in the summer months – but it’s not my specialty or passion. Nevertheless, a couple of things pointed me in the direction of this blog.  The first was the detritus of my cubicle. The man who previously occupied my cube took a job in Shanghai, departing abruptly and leaving many of his belongings behind, including a fold-up commuter bike. I was told I could help myself to anything in the cube, so I did (the box of green tea was great, too).

The other push came out of a simple question from a Chinese colleague. Shortly after my arrival at CAUPD, I was asked to give a presentation about my past experiences as a planner in Oregon. My studio politely listened to me talk about land use policy in Oregon and small-town economic development, though they seemed only vaguely interested.  At the end, one of them asked “What about bike planning? Why Portland?” I had not even mentioned bikes in my presentation, but my city’s reputation preceded me. This led to a request for a “lecture” on bike planning in Portland and also got me wondering about the experience of biking in the two cities and how they compare.

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The Pedestrian Way: Streets for people in China and the United States


NanjingLu, Shanghai
photo: me

Perhaps you have been following along this summer and noted our reproaches to the traffic movements and pedestrian environments in Chinese cities. If not, do not fret, I can summarize in two words and a conjunction: stressful and dangerous. But not all streets are the lamentable multi-lane arterials-cum-speedways, some streets function on the human scale where pedestrians dominate. Still other roads have been reclaimed from automobile traffic and function as pedestrian streets. While the history of pedestrian commercial streets in the United States has been an urban planning roller coaster ride, the Chinese analogues generally bristle with life and function as important public spaces. This post will introduce three forms of Chinese pedestrian commercial streets: the upscale walking mall or village, the historic renovation walking mall, and the narrow commercial alleyway. How do these pedestrian streets compare to the United States, and where have all the American pedestrian malls gone?… Continue reading

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Age-friendly Beijing?



You might know that I am very interested in making cities more livable, vibrant, and fun places for youth and for older adults. If you make great places for youth and older adults, you’re going to make great places for everyone. That is the idea behind Canada’s 8-80 Cities non-profit and the conclusion reached by my PSU Workshop team in our Toward an Age-Friendly Portland report (click the image of the report to download).

What is an age-friendly city? An age-friendly city is defined by the World Health Organization as, “[A place that] encourages active aging by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. In practical terms, an age-friendly city adapts its structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities.” This post will analyze Beijing’s age friendliness and provide some general information about population aging in China. What is the quality of life for older adults in Beijing and China? Is Beijing age friendly? Let’s explore these questions.

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