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Welcome to (A Two-Wheeled) Paradise!

Last week, more than 400 urban innovators and city-makers gathered at Placemaking Week in Amsterdam. Our Founder/CEO, Mariela was to present, but I think she had a little too much fun at her wedding three days prior and was not well enough to attend. So we thought we'd give you a little taste of the workshop she would have presented and give you an opportunity to sign up for a virtual version on November 7th. Download a free State of Place Amsterdam report and sign up for the workshop below!
Source: Skyscraper Dictionary

Source: Skyscraper Dictionary

Perhaps it's for the best that our Founder didn't make it to Amsterdam...yes, she missed out on the Anne Frank Museum, the Vondelpark, and the Red Light District (come on, everyone goes there when they visit Amsterdam!)...but we wonder how at home she would have been in the City of Bikes (as you know, she's struggled to learn - shush, don't tell her we told you - it's her dirty little placemaker's secret). The rest of us here at State of Place though would have loved to have seen the famous “Fietsflat” (literal translation “Bike Flat”) in person (a and yeah, the Red Light District too!). This 3-story tall bike parking, a 2-minute walk from the Central Station (convenient!), can store over 2,500 bikes and is a literal testament to the City's adoration of bikes. For urban planners, environmentalists, and place-lovers like us, it’s the perfect place respite from which to appreciate this Two-Wheeled Paradise - especially as a pedestrian newcomer to a city where bikes reign supreme. More than 90 percent of people ride bikes in the city center - even when it rains or snows. Indeed, as a walker - moving around feels decidedly slow, especially when nine out of ten bikers are speeding by you (ahem, not yielding) and crosswalks. It's easy for pedestrians to feel a bit like traffic outcasts! ;)

These Streets are Made for Biking… BUT Don’t Forget about Pedestrians!

Image source: vanwaardenphoto.com

Image source: vanwaardenphoto.com

Amsterdam has been working on a new Comprehensive Masterplan 2040, which will restrict maximum road speeds. Its plan to reduce the number of cars in the city center will definitely make the city more pedestrian-friendly, but Amsterdam’s new vision still puts a lot of emphasis on biking, mirroring its traffic hierarchy: bikes are number one, then pedestrians, and then cars. (Mariela might flip around the first two there, but overall, developers and planners from other cities around the world should be taking notes!). While walking is on the decline in the city due to more and more people cycling, the city is working to balance this with new investments in walkability (YAY!). Can Amsterdam make walking sexy like biking? Our data geeks at State of Place are eager to help! So without further ado, here's our mini (post)view of what would have been presented during Mariela's workshop...our assessment of the Placemaking Week conference location.

Walkability at the Placemaking Week Amsterdam

The Placemaking Week's conference building, Pakhuis de Zwijger, actually borders a pedestrian-only street on the waterside. Although it sounds promising, the street is far from popular among pedestrians. Buildings are relatively high, making the walk “windy” and  less appealing. We collected data on 290+ built environment features of five blocks near the building and calculated their State of Place Index and Profile to showcase the area's walkability, quality of place, and attractiveness. Scroll through the results above.

Had we focused on streets closer to the city center, we know the State of Place would certainly have been higher. Clearly there are a ton of pedestrians walking along the canals (and tourists walking in the biking lanes - a no-no and tell-tale sign you are not from Amsterdam!), enjoying this compact, vibrant city that seemingly doesn't sleep! But we wanted to show that even in Europe, even in amazing European cities like Amsterdam, there's room for improvement! State of Place can help highlight this - objectively - and help set evidenced based priorities for how to improve your streets - for both pedestrians and bicyclists!

Download the full report below and join us Nov 7th, 1:30pm EST for our virtual (makeup) Placemaking Week Workshop! 

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Want to join the virtual webinar with CEO Mariela on Nov. 7 1:30PM ET?
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Data Geeks, Unite! (Or How to Become a State of Place Ambassador)

Data Geeks, Unite! (Or How to Become a State of Place Ambassador)

Blake Roberts, one of our Ambassadors, recently spoke with our CMO, Anna, about his planning background and why he's advocating for more data-driven, evidence-based planning (via State of Place, of course). Find him at the APA California 2017 conference (and join his tour on Sunday afternoon) and flag him down anytime to chat about Cali planning and State of Place! And scroll down to find out how to become one of our ambassadors.

These Streets Are Made for Walking...

These Streets Are Made for Walking...

Hello IDAers, Winnipegers, place lovers! I am SOOO bummed not to be joining you in person this year - especially after actually winning the IDA raffle for a free conference ticket! But not to worry as - one, our CTO, Andy Likuski will be your resident place-loving data-geek and two, we are reprising last year's better-know-your-IDA-conference-host-city blog series where we use State of Place to do a deep-dive on the lucky city's urban design assets and needs (based on over 290 built environment features - think Walk Score on steroids). IDA 2016 brought you a piece the Atlanta Beltline's walkability. This year, we stepped it up a bit and played a little game of SimCity to assess just what would be the impact - place-wise and money-wise - if the (infamous) intersection of Portage and Main in Downtown Winnipeg were to indeed be reopened to pedestrians. Check out our analysis below! 

Why Data Isn't Just for Geeks (or Traffic Engineers) Anymore

TLDR: Skip right to the podcast.

One of our favorite customer quotes of all time comes from West Palm Beach's Downtown Development Agency's Executive Director - the formidable, outspoken, and ever-innovative Raphael Clemente. When discussing the toughest challenges he faces "getting it [great placemaking] done" he bemoaned the neverending battles he constantly has to fight with traffic engineers and regional and state transportation planners to try to convince them why he wants to create more pedestrian-friendly street designs or more often, stop them from making streets that much more auto-oriented. He expressed that his "opponents" came armed with data to defend the car-focused status-quo. His beautiful pictures depicting amazingly, walkable utopias - on their own - didn't quite cut it. But adding data to that vision - that was "like bringing a gun to the gunfight, finally allowing [him] to level the playing field."

Data is becoming a key part of the equation (pardon - sort of - the pun) - whether you're trying to "fight the good fight" or more generally are trying to incorporate more data-driven, evidence-based approaches to planning and design. This week, our Founder & CEO, Mariela Alfonzo discussed the role of data in the future of city-making with Parksify's Ash Blankenship. 

If you're a city-maker who 1) needs to bring that gun to the gunfight to make the case for great places or 2) wants to understand how best to leverage the power of data to create more walkable, livable, SMARTer, cities, spend some QT with Mariela below! 

If for whatever reason you're "anti-data," I have two thoughts: 1) Um, seriously? Feel a sudden-onset of FOMO coming on soon, anyone?? 2) I guess you want your city to become a "zombie" (for #GOT fans, that's a city full of wights - half-dead creatures - just mindlessly doing what they are told). Yeah, now you totally have to listen! Believe me, you'll thank me later! 

TLDL (too long didn't listen)? Scroll through key quotes below to understand why not all data is created (or interpretted) equally...

Second Time's Like a Charm?

Second Time's Like a Charm?

Yes, yes, I know. It's the third time's a charm...but one, I'm Cuban (technically Cuban-American but I grew up in Miami so that makes me pretty much Cuban and explains why I suck at American idioms... apparently, Italian cousins are not the same thing as Irish twins, but I digress); and two, second time is technically a more accurate (and you know how we feel about precise data at State of Place!) way to describe this video reprisal (below) of my amazingly received keynote at the WALK21 Conference last fall, which we're presenting today (just happened across it on YouTube - yay! - while I was googling myself over Memorial Day weekend...no lie) in lieu of a written blog this week.

Naysayers gonna "Nay?" Learn How Data Can Help Get Them to YAY!

Naysayers gonna "Nay?" Learn How Data Can Help Get Them to YAY!

3 Cities. 5 Presentations. Dozens of Demos! That's been life for the past 3 weeks for Mariela, our Founder and CEO! You'd think she would be tired but she's caught a bad case of Keynote-itis and is keen (sorry, that's a lot of alliteration!) to keep it going. So we're doing three days of 30-minute demos! If you want to find out why the New Cities Foundation just named her an Associate Fellow for Placemaking (yeah, that did just happen!) or better yet, want to learn how to quickly quell those pesky naysayers that have been holding back your placemaking and walkability plans AND decrease your consulting costs to boot, plan to spend some QT with Mariela next week! She'll show you how to use data to "fight the good fight" and reduce your consulting costs to boot!