Bobsledding the Boroughs?

GEOGRAPHY

Is that a luge in Times Square? Schussing in Central Park? As the Winter Olympics officially kick off in Sochi, think about space and scale by imagining the games in a more urban environment. (New York Times)

Use our resources to better understand urban planning.

This bobsleigh isn't in Times Square—it's being piloted by Shauna Rohbock, who won silver in the women's bobsleigh competition at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Photograph by Jack Gillund, courtesy U.S. Army

This bobsleigh isn’t in Times Square—it’s being piloted by Shauna Rohbock, who won silver in the women’s bobsleigh competition at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Photograph by Jack Gillund, courtesy U.S. Army

Discussion Ideas

  • Take a look at the terrific New York Times infographic, and the relative scale of urban landmarks and outdoor Olympic venues. The Olympic downhill course would dwarf the Empire State Building by more than 1,000 feet! Imagine you are an urban planner, and your city or town is going to host the Winter Olympics. How would you plan the outdoor venues?
    • Where would you put the 5,000-meter speed skating track?
    • How would you incorporate the sliding course’s twists and turns into the geography of your city or town?
    • What urban, suburban, or rural infrastructure would you use for freestyle skiing or snowboarding’s slopestyle events? Statues? Fences? Bus stop kiosks?
    • Is there a steep slope for ski jumpers, or would you have to construct one? Where? (The Metro escalator at Rosslyn would be awesome, but I haven’t worked out where they’d land . . .)
  • Now take a more practical look at how urban planners work, with our media spotlight on urban planning in Jaipur, India. Adapt the questions in the “Questions” tab to get an idea of what issues urban planners in Olympic cities face.
    • Zoning. City planners must mark each area of a city for a specific use. What zones do you think Olympic planners must anticipate?
      • residential—each host city constructs an “Olympic Village” for athletes and other participants.
      • business—dozens and even hundreds of individual businesses sell merchandise, goods, and services to tourists and participants in the Olympics.
      • municipal or security
    • Services. What are some services Olympic city planners should include?
      • transportation
      • access to clean water
      • access to safe sewage system
      • access to reliable sources of power
    • Infrastructure. Besides the venues themselves, what are some of the buildings and other physical structures Olympic city planners need to include in their designs?
      • roads
      • bridges
      • electric and fiberoptic cable networks
      • cell phone towers
      • sewage system
      • wireless internet access
      • safety systems: flood-control, fire-control
      • pipelines for water, gas
      • parking lots
    • Transportation. What sort of public transportation systems do you think Olympic city planners consider?
      • buses
      • private vehicles
      • emergency vehicles
      • security vehicles
      • access to rail, port, or airport transportation
    • Environment. How can Olympic city planners create “green areas” to mitigate losses to the environment?
      • parks
      • bike trails
      • walking paths

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