30 January 2009

More Cars vs More People

As a follow up to yesterday's post against cars, here is a relevant section on the Project for Public Spaces website. The gist is that streets are public places, and they are about much more than moving fast. Some extracts:

If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic.
If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.

...more traffic and road capacity are not the inevitable result of growth. They are in fact the product of very deliberate choices that we have made to shape our communities around the private automobile. We as a society have the ability to make different choices--starting with the decision to design our streets as comfortable places for people.

...Neighborhood streets can be places where parents can feel safe letting their children play, and commercial strips can be redeveloped into grand boulevards, safe for walking and cycling, allowing for faster-moving through traffic as well as slower-paced local traffic.

...Not so long ago (and still in places like Cincinnati -Mike), ideas like these were considered preposterous in most North American communities. Transit stops were simply places to wait. Streets had been surrendered to traffic for so long that we hardly considered them to be public spaces at all. But now we are slowly getting away from this narrow perception of "transportation as conduit for cars" and beginning to think of "transportation as place."

...a radical idea--transportation can create great places, not destroy them. We see the vast amount of urban land dedicated to cars, traffic, and parking lots as a huge opportunity to create public spaces that serve community. Transportation can be the handmaiden of this transformation—by redeveloping facilities from highways to boulevards, from parking lots to mixed-use transit oriented development, and from nowhere to someplace. But we must follow some simple rules. These include:

Rule One: Stop Planning for Speed ...People first!

Rule Two: Start Planning for Public Outcomes ...public benefit, not just private convenience.

Rule Three: Think of Transportation as Public Space ....Roads are places too!

Transportation is public space to be shared by pedestrians, bikes, transit, and cars.

Transportation--the process of going to a place--can be wonderful if we rethink the idea of transportation itself. If we remember that transportation is the journey, but community is always our goal.

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