Best City: Reading

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Urban planning

Bi-Articulated Bus, Curitiba by Thomas Locke Hobbs, on FlickrCuritiba has a planned transportation system, which includes lanes on major streets devoted to a bus rapid transit system. The buses are long, split into three sections ( bi-articulated ), and stop at , elevated tubes complete with disabled access. There is only one price no matter how far you travel and you pay at the bus stop.

Bus stop waiting tube, Curitiba by Thomas Locke Hobbs, on Flickr

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The system, used by 85% of Curitiba’s population, is the source of inspiration for the TransMilenio in Bogotá, Colombia; Metrovia in Guayaquil, Ecuador; Transmetro in Guatemala City, Guatemala; as well as the Orange Line of Los Angeles, U.S. State of California; and for a future transportation system in Panama City, Panama; Cebu City, Philippines; and the latest, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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The city has also paid careful attention to preserving and caring for its green areas boasting 51.5 square metres (554 sq ft) of green space per inhabitant.

City of CURITIBA Brazil by llvsboston, on Flickr

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In the 1940s and 1950s, Alfred Agache, cofounder of the French Society for Urban Studies, was hired to produce the first city plan. It emphasised a star of boulevards, with public amenities downtown, an industrial district and . It was followed when possible but was too expensive to complete.

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By the 1960s, Curitiba’s population had ballooned to 430,000, and some residents feared that the growth in population threatened to drastically change the character of the city. In 1964, Mayor Ivo Arzua solicited proposals for urban design. Jaime Lerner, who later became mayor, led a team from the Universidade Federal do Paraná that suggested strict controls on urban sprawl, a reduction of traffic in the downtown area, of Curitiba’s Historic Sector, and a convenient and affordable public system.

Rua XV de Novembro - Curitiba  by BRUNOVAZ, on Flickr

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This plan, known as the Curitiba Master Plan, was adopted in 1968. Lerner closed XV de Novembro Street to vehicles because it had very high pedestrian traffic. The plan had a new road design to traffic: the Trinary Road System. This uses two one-way streets moving in opposite directions which surround a smaller two-lane street where the express buses have their exclusive lane.
Exclusive bus lane converging in star form by Maximilian DörrbeckerFive of these roads form a star that converges on the city centre. Land farther from these roads is zoned for lower developments, to reduce traffic away from the main roads. In a number of areas subject to floods, buildings were and the land became parks.

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Today, Curitiba is considered one of the best examples of urban planning worldwide. In June 1996, the chairman of the Habitat II Summit of mayors and urban planners in Istanbul praised Curitiba as “the most innovative city in the country.”

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Curitiba was recently recommended by UNESCO as a model for the of the cities of Afghanistan, after the U.S invaded in 2001.

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In the 1980s, the RIT ( Rede Integrada de Transporte, Transport Network ) was created, allowing transit between any point in the city by paying just one fare. At the same time, the city began a project called the “Faróis de Saber” ( Lighthouses of Knowledge ). These Lighthouses are free educational centers which include libraries, Internet access, and other cultural resources. Job training, social welfare and educational programs are , and often supply labor to improve the city’s amenities or services as well as education and income.

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Curitiba is referred to as the ecological capital of Brazil, with a network of 28 parks Parque São Lourenço by Andre Luiz Bellafronte, on Flickrand areas. In 1970, there was less than 1 square meter of green space per person; now there are 52 square meters for each person. Residents planted 1.5 million trees along city streets. Builders get tax breaks if their projects include green space. Flood waters diverted into new lakes in parks solved the problem of dangerous flooding, while also protecting valley floors and , acting as a barrier to illegal occupation and providing and recreational value to the thousands of people who use the city parks.

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In 2007, the city was placed third in a list of “15 Green Cities” in the world, according to the U.S. magazine “Grist,” after Reykjavik in Iceland and Portland, Oregon in the United States. As a result, according to one survey, 99% of Curitibans are happy with their hometown. The “green exchange” employment program focuses on social , benefiting both those in need and the environment. Low-income families living in shantytowns by truck bring their bags to neighborhood centers where they exchange them for bus tickets and food. This means less city and less disease, less dumped in sensitive areas such as rivers, and a better life for the poor. There’s also a program for children where they can exchange garbage for school supplies, chocolate, toys, and tickets for shows.

Recycling

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Under the “garbage that’s not garbage” program, 70% of the city’s trash is recycled by its residents. Once a week, a truck collects paper, cardboard, metal, plastic and glass that has been sorted in the city’s homes. The city’s paper recycling alone saves the equivalent of 1,200 trees a day. As well as the environmental benefits, money raised from selling materials goes into social programs, and the city employs the homeless and recovering alcoholics in its garbage separation plant. Open University, created by the city, lets residents take courses in many subjects such as mechanics, hair styling and environmental protection for a small fee. Retired city buses are often used as mobile schools or offices. Downtown areas were transformed into streets, including a 24-hour mall with shops, restaurants and cafes, and a street of flowers with gardens tended by street kids.

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The “capacity building job line” was created to generate a better quality of life for people in the region surrounding a new economic development axis of Curitiba. Key initiatives include the South-Circular bus line, which links the southern and eastern regions of town; Entrepreneurial Sheds, business incubators designed to help small companies get established and ; and the Crafts Lycée, which trains people for professions such as marketing and finance so that they can find employment in new companies that emerge from the business incubator. Specifically, the goal is to provide jobs and income for the unemployed among 400,000 people living in 15 peripheral towns, and to structure and develop the region according to integrated planning principles. About 15,000 new jobs have been generated so far and 15,000 more are expected.

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There’s a model inexpensive, transit service used by more than 2 million people a day. There are more car owners per capita than anywhere else in Brazil and the population has doubled since 1974, yet auto traffic has declined by 30%, and atmospheric pollution is the lowest in Brazil.

Source of text: Wikipedia
Source of word definitions:
OALD

Download the text as PDF

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Task 1

 

  1. Did this text provide you with more details or additional information to what you have learned from the video? You can add these to your list of qualities and features of pre-task 1.
  2. In pre-task 1 b), you grouped the qualities and features. Can you put the paragraphs from the text under those headings? Example: Traffic – paragraph 1, 2, (4), 5, 6, 9,14.
  3. All of this sounds very good, doesn’t it? But is there anything that makes you think “Great, but …”? On your notepad, write at least three “Great, but…” sentences or questions. Example: Great, but isn’t it expensive to maintain the parks? We will come back to this later.

Task 2

For the word “elevated” in the reading text, I provided as definition “higher than the area around; above the level of the ground”. When you look up the word in the dictionary, you will see four different definitions or meanings for this word. How did I decide that in our text this definition is correct and not any of the others?

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Task 3

In this text, you were able to listen to the pronunciation of some of the words. Now, you are going to say the words. Here is what you will do:

  1. Listen to one of the words.
  2. Use the Recording tool Vocaroo (in the sidebar) to record yourself saying the word (Important note: At the moment, the tool only works if you go to the vocaroo.com website. It also does not work on iPads. Alternatively, you can use the voice recorder on your phone or tablet).
  3. Listen to your recording. Does it sound the same or similar to the original recording? If not, try again.
  4. Continue with the next word. Do this with the words that you find difficult to pronounce.

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Note: If you would like to keep the your recordings, you can go to the Vocaroo website. There, you have the option of downloading the recordings as .mp3 files or sending them to somebody by email.

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Click here to do a crossword puzzle.

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