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Cleaner, Greener, Safer–And More Exclusive: 2015 In Cities

It’s a great time for urban living and urban innovation–but how can we make it possible for more people to afford it?

Many cities became greener and cleaner in 2015, following an exciting long-term trend. Cities added new bike lanes, lovely cycling bridges and new green-spaces. They became more walkable and began to de-emphasize cars in favor of public transit. We saw more “tactical urbanism”–for instance, where parking spaces become temporary parks–and increased civic participation, from participatory budgeting to SeeClickFix.

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The continued renaissance of the city has a dark side, though, and it was more in evidence. More popular than ever, the world’s greatest cities, from London to New York, are becoming heinously expensive for ordinary people. Inequality is on the increase. And, places like San Francisco are losing something of their melting-pot character. The great cities of the future, therefore, will be more than nice places; they’ll be inclusive. They’ll find new ways to create housing, as in this shared living space in London, and they’ll use up available space for the public good, not just the good of a few developers.

1. 7 Cities That Are Starting To Go Car-Free
Urban planners are finally recognizing that streets should be designed for people, not careening hunks of deadly metal.

2. What A City Would Look Like If It Were Designed For Only Bikes (No Cars Allowed!)
Coasting down from your apartment on your personal bike ramp will be so fun.

3. 18 Visions Of The City Of The Future, From The Past
From fanciful flying cars to garden-covered rooftops, here’s a look at what designers have imagined for our cities—and how they’ve shaped our urban future.

4. These Are The World’s Safest Cities
Asian and European cities come out on top. At number 10, New York City is the safest in the United States.

5. The 10 Cities That Are Doing The Most For Millennials
Cities want to attract young people but are mostly run by and for old people. These are the 10 cities that focus best on the kids.

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6. These London High-Rises Are A Massive Experiment In Co-Living
In a city with rapidly rising rents, the Collective is creating a hotel-like space to house the young, penniless masses.

7. The 10 Most Sustainable Cities That Will Thrive As The World Crumbles
A new ranking looks at three factors that go into making a city successful: people, planet, and profit.

8. Google’s New Urban Innovation Incubator Just Made Its First Investment, To Bring Public Wi-Fi To Cities
Giving old payphones new life by making them useful in the Internet age.

9. The U.S. Cities Where Creative Jobs Are Thriving
It’s the designers, actors, and artists that make cities interesting. The rest of us just take advantage. Here’s where those jobs are growing the fastest.

10. The 10 Most Walkable Cities In The U.S.
Most places are designed so that you basically can’t walk anywhere. But that’s starting to change.

11. The U.S. Cities With The Biggest Gaps Between Rich And Poor
Inequality is growing, and it’s not only in the cities you’d expect.

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12. NASA Explains Why You Should Live On A Tree-Lined Street—And A Tree-Lined City
Just get more trees in your life.

13. In L.A., Now You Can Use City Land For A Free Vegetable Garden
Instead of driving to the store to get quality produce, L.A. residents can now plant gardens sandwiched in between sidewalk concrete and asphalt.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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