Bishan Park, Singapore | Green corridor with Kallang River which connects Singapore Strait and Lower Peirce Reservoir. CC photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Bishan Park, Singapore | Green corridor with Kallang River which connects Singapore Strait and Lower Peirce Reservoir. CC photo: commons.wikimedia.org

As cities become more dense the need to address the concerns of mitigating the way in which citizens move through the city becomes magnified. As of now, the prominent method of transportation has focused upon the automobile, with increasing progression toward implementing public transportation. However, those more interested in bicycling haven’t found the road as accommodating. Generations of infrastructure development has made automobiles the primary and sole owner of the road, with little concern for permitting other methods of transportation as plausible or safe options. The result has been high levels of air pollution, urban runoff, and congestion on the road.

In recent years, cities such as New York, Chicago, Barcelona, and Calgary have implemented projects to initiate methods to mediate transportation of cars, buses, and bicycles to create a safer integration of circulation. Los Angeles has followed with its own project, MyFigueroa, proposing improvements throughout the Downtown area to accommodate for the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and drivers with planting, signage, and a protected bicycle lane network. As this is a step forward to a better integrated system for a dense urban hub, why not increase the momentum and address the health, safety, and welfare by implementing principles that can resolve other issues derived by urban conditions? Methods and materials can be utilized to develop systems to decrease runoff and increase air quality.

Thermal imaging capturing temperature distribution, with blue showing cool temperatures, red warm, and hot areas appear white. CC image obtained from NASA Earth Observatory webpage.

Thermal imaging capturing temperature distribution, with blue showing cool temperatures, red warm, and hot areas appear white. CC image obtained from NASA Earth Observatory webpage.

Since the inception of the first public park, it has been known that green open spaces aid in resolving health issues of those living in dense urban environments. Utilizing trees and other plants goes far beyond aesthetic appeal to a city, but can also service as an improvement of public health, both mentally and physically. With additional services such as mitigating urban heat island effects, planting can be integrated with the improvements currently proposed to filter and reduce polluting factors within the downtown area.

A few cities like Copenhagen, Denmark and Quezon City, Philippines have initiating large scale propositions to preserve and develop green spaces for public health. Quezon City has developed a plan to create open spaces that service as a “green lung”, utilizing plant materials that can filter and absorb toxins and pollutants, as well as contribute to carbon sequestration. Sustainable practices such as green lungs and curb breaks in parkways can be implemented into propositions, such as the MyFigueroa project that proposed bikeway networks, to dramatically mitigate conditions create by urban development. As much as the tree canopies above can filter light and reduce heat island effects, why not use plant materials contaminants along the bike routes that can filter water and reduce runoff.

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