The Cities This Week: Edition 46

Cape Town's 2014 New Years Eve party ushers in its World Design Capital year. Source: Cape Town Magazine

Cape Town’s 2014 New Years Eve party ushers in its World Design Capital year. Source: Cape Town Magazine


British architect Norman Foster has unveiled a concept to build a network of elevated pathways above London’s railways to create safe car-free cycling routes, following 14 cyclist deaths on the city’s streets in 2013. Entitled SkyCycle, the proposal by architects Foster + Partners, landscape architects Exterior Architecture and transport consultant Space Syntax is for a “cycling utopia” of approximately 220 kilometres of dedicated cycle lanes, following the routes of existing train lines. Over 200 entrance points would be dotted across the UK capital to provide access to ten different cycle paths. Each route would accommodate up to 12,000 cyclists per hour and could improve journey times across the city by up to half an hour. “SkyCycle is a lateral approach to finding space in a congested city,” said Foster, who is both a regular cyclist and the president of Britain’s National Byway Trust. “By using the corridors above the suburban railways, we could create a world-class network of safe, car free cycle routes that are ideally located for commuters.“” – Dezeen

New York City

Bill de Blasio, whose fiery populism propelled his rise from obscure neighborhood official to the 109th mayor of New York, was sworn into office on Wednesday, pledging that his ambition for a more humane and equal metropolis would remain undimmed. In his inaugural address, Mayor de Blasio described social inequality as a “quiet crisis” on a par with the other urban cataclysms of the city’s last half-century, from fiscal collapse to crime waves to terrorist attacks, and said income disparity was a struggle no less urgent to confront. “We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love,” he said to about 5,000 people at the ceremony, many beneath blankets on a numbingly cold day. Mr. de Blasio, 52, the first liberal to lead City Hall in two decades, delivered his critiques as his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, whose Wall Street pedigree and business-first approach to governance seemed to embody the city’s current gilded era, sat unsmiling a few feet away.” – New York Times


“Kenya started building a $653 million new terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International airport Tuesday. This is the second large infrastructure project it has launched in a week, aimed at boosting trade and cementing its status as a regional commercial hub. The new terminal, whose first phase construction is expected to be finished in 2016, will be able to handle 20 million passengers when completed.”Africa has historically missed out on development opportunities due to inadequate investments in transport infrastructure or reliance on pre-independence infrastructure,” Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said at a launch ceremony. “As Kenyans, we must now get it right.“” – Urban Africa


“Lagos State House of Assembly has begun moves to avert complete breakdown of the health sector through indefinite strike being threatened by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA). The House on Friday held crucial meeting with stakeholders to discuss issues affecting the health sector. Addressing the medical practitioners, Leader of the House, Hon. Ajibayo Adeyeye representing Kosofe II constituency,  appealed to the association to find a way of resolving the pressing issue without resulting to total strike that would affect the lives of Lagosians. Adeyeye said that “NMA should have a rethink to resolve the matter so that it would not affect the people of the State.”He said that the State Government cannot afford to lose any patient at this crucial time when the State Government has committed huge amount to rehabilitation and reconstruction of hospitals in the state. The Leader used the forum to call on the Federal Government to listen to the plights of the association with a view to finding solution to their problems. “We cannot afford another strike in the health sector.  One minute of strike in the health sector by whatever body can be very disastrous to the State.”” – This Day Live


The scene is set for a major battle between civil society groups, private citizens and the state in the coming months, with temperatures already running hot during the normally sleepy holiday season over the unpopular e-toll programme. Dedicated e-tolls opponent the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), which has spent the greater part of the past two years dragging the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) and the Department of Transport to court, has promised to campaign to continue to undermine the programme success. Outa has repeatedly called for the state to abandon e-tolling in favour of using the fuel levy to pay for upgrades made to Gauteng’s freeways. Outa is well supported by other nongovernmental organisations such as the Justice Project of South Africa (JPSA) and the Automobile Association, all opposed to the collection of tolls to pay for the road improvement and expansion programme officially dubbed the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.” – Business Day

Cape Town

“The City of Cape Town pulled out all the stops on New Year’s eve to celebrate its new status as World Design Capital for 2014 as the clock struck midnight. The celebrations at the iconic Grand Parade in the city central were the first New Year’s party hosted by the city. Party revellers who attended the inaugural festivities say they can’t wait for the next one. Close to a 100 000 people packed the Grand Parade. A spectacular light show, featuring 3D mapping on the iconic City Hall, had revellers in awe. The five minute show among others paid homage to the country’s beloved former president, Nelson Mandela. The light show was part of the city’s count down not only to a new year, but also its new status as World Design Capital.” – SABC


“Nearly 400 people were killed in the last three days’ violence in Bangui, according to the French embassy in the Central African Republic’s capital. French troops on Sunday entered the north-west of the country, where political violence has become sectarian violence in recent months. “We count 394 dead in the last three days,” French Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius told France 3 TV on Sunday. “Calm has restored to Bangui even if there are still some atrocities here and there.”” – AllAfrica

Tel Aviv

“Thousands of African migrants have marched in the city of Tel Aviv to protest against their treatment by the Israeli government. The protesters, mostly Eritreans and Sudanese, are angry about a law that allows illegal immigrants to be detained for a year without trial. They demanded the right to work legally and for their asylum bids to be processed. An Israeli police spokeswoman said the march was peaceful. “We are all refugees” and “Yes to freedom, no to prison!” they chanted.” – BBC News


“At least 17 people were killed in Egypt in clashes between police and backers of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, local media reported Saturday. Friday’s clashes left 10 people dead in Cairo. Others were killed in the southern city of Minya and the northern provinces of Alexandria, Ismailia and Fayoum. The violence broke out after backers of the Islamist group took to the streets, defying a ban. Authorities outlawed the Brotherhood in September and declared it a terrorist group in December. Under Egyptian law, terrorism-related charges carry the death penalty.”- Mail & Guardian