With many cities no longer interested in hosting mega events, what’s the future for the Olympics and World Cup?

Cincinnati make an unlikely bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The Queen City lost out to a number of other American cities that became the finalists for the U.S. selection, which ultimately put New York City in the running against a host of global competitors. Those days of heated competition to host the games, however, may be over. More from CityLab:

If the U.S. bid had gone to D.C., San Francisco, or Los Angeles, critics would have rallied against the Games in those cities the same way they did in Boston. Support for the Games was bound to fall in the wake of an actual bid, as critics sought to expose the high costs or unpractical plans that usually attach themselves to these mega-events.

I don’t see how a U.S. city will ever again host the Olympic Games. Or a World Cup, for that matter. (We’re stuck with the Super Bowl, though.) While mega-events could help cities in Western nation accomplish good things, the participation of authoritarian states is driving the Olympics and the World Cup toward extreme costs and extravagance.

Recent string of deaths on our roadways illustrates need for Vision Zero policy

There have been a string of deaths on our region’s roadways this year. In several cases, including one last week that involved the death of a 12-year-old girl in Colerain Township, have come as a result of deadly roadway design. In this particular instance, cars often travel at fast speeds and there are few crosswalks made available to people walking. In March it was a deadly stretch of roadway in Florence that led to a person losing control of their car and killing a grandfather and his two toddler grandchildren as they attempted to walk along a road with no sidewalks.

In Los Angeles, a city that has become infamous for being car-dominated, the city’s mayor is looking to improve the situation. Some local leaders are also calling for a so-called Vision Zero policy agenda that works aggressively toward designing streets and crafting public policy in a way to eliminate such deaths. More from the Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles is in many respects a terrible place to be a pedestrian. That’s in large part because we have engineered our streets to function like highways, widening them over the decades at the expense of sidewalks, which are so anemic in some places that telephone poles and other utilities block them. We’ve made it easy to drive on Sepulveda Boulevard or Sunset Boulevard as an alternative to the 405 or the 101, and, as a result, made it dangerous to traverse those streets by foot.

The city’s lack of regard for pedestrians is nowhere more apparent than in the shortage of marked crosswalks. Although technically pedestrians have the right of way at any intersection, drivers don’t generally slow down or look around unless there’s paint on the ground. Is there anything more frustrating for a pedestrian than arriving at a corner without white lines? You have to choose between risking your life by darting across the street and walking out of your way in the hope of finding a safe crossing nearby.

Uptown leaders should copy Buffalo and develop a street-calming plan

Cincinnati’s uptown neighborhoods are experiencing a bit of a boom. Hundreds of residential units are being developed, new transportation infrastructure and capacity is coming online, and smaller, historic buildings are controversially making way for new, taller ones. While significant changes are underway, one thing that remains the same, and seems poised to only get worse as new roadway projects are built, is the fact that most major thoroughfares uptown are inhospitable to people who wish to walk or bike to get around. In Buffalo they have developed a plan to address just that in the city’s historic downtown. A similar plan should be considered for Cincinnati’s second largest employment center. More from Buffalo News:

The new Downtown Infrastructure Master Plan lays out a series of enhancements to key streets, districts and public squares to bolster the appearance and feel of the city center for residents, employees and visitors, while making the downtown more vibrant. At the same time, it seeks to make the area more cohesive and pedestrian-friendly, by improving access and connections. And it calls for traffic calming, more accessible green space and public space, and a “softening” of barriers like highway overpasses.

The goal is to provide a framework for future public-sector investments and projects, using shared objectives in making decisions about where to target new initiatives. But it’s also flexible enough, officials said, so that it can be adapted to tie in new projects to downtown and neighborhoods.

Is the Great Lakes region ready to start acting like a megaregion?

Only a small piece of land between Cincinnati and Dayton remains undeveloped, and many believe that remaining gap will disappear very soon. But the merging of Cincinnati and Dayton as one large metropolitan region is only part of the story, as shared regional identities with other large urban centers throughout the Great Lakes region becomes more pervasive. This and other regions like it around the U.S. are becoming even more centralized. More from The Week:

Though the concept has existed in academia for decades, planners are now looking at these dense corridors of population, businesses, and transportation and wondering if the megaregion may, in fact, be the next step in America’s evolution. With renewed interest and investment in urban centers and the projected growth of high speed rail, megaregions could easily become home to millions more Americans.

The Northeast corridor, for example, could receive up to 18 million more residents by 2050, according to estimates from the Regional Plan Association. And the region encompassing major cities in Texas including Houston and Dallas could see a spike from roughly 12 million to 18 million people in that same time, the association says.

And where population goes, economic growth is not far behind. The Northeast corridor would be the fifth largest economy in the world, with the Great Lakes megaregion at ninth and the Southern California megaregion outpacing Indonesia, Turkey, and the Netherlands as the 18th largest, according to 2012 estimates from real estate advisory RCLCO. The problem is, there are challenges to making these networks hold together. Unlike megaregions in Europe and Asia, for example, the United States has traditionally shied away from large umbrella governing organizations which surpass state borders.

Not building protected bike lanes is a transport policy failure

Most cities take a timid approach to building new protected bike lanes. Instead of building out a comprehensive and well-connected network, they go after segments of streets where the introduction of the bike lane will not take a lane of moving traffic or parking away from those driving cars. As it turns out, new research shows that this is a bad approach. More from Streetsblog USA:

Here’s one reason the modern biking boom is great for everyone: more bicycle trips mean fewer car trips, which can mean less congestion for people in cars and buses. But there’s a catch. A recent study shows that when bicycle use rises but cities don’t add bike lanes to put the new bikers in, traffic congestion actually gets worse. In some situations, it gets a lot worse.

If a city doesn’t build bike lanes, then “bikes vs. cars” is actually real. But if a city builds bike lanes, more biking becomes a win-win. Public support for bike infrastructure and programming depends on one crucial concept: that more biking benefits people whether or not they ever ride a bike themselves. Lewis, the Atlanta transportation deputy director, said that’s one big reason it’s important to add bike lanes to busy streets when possible.