But all the sticks, carrots and vigorously shaken tambourines will not have any meaning if the network doesn’t connect people to places they want to go to.
Making and Linking Places
Gil Peñalosa demands “places with spice”: spaces with the vibrancy that comes from interacting with others. We want to be where the action is, and these attractive places define the positive nature of the city – Peñalosa’s “spice” of urban life.
Public spaces that are safe and welcoming for all ages are also connected to adjacent neighborhoods in safe and welcoming ways. In New York, where new real estate for public space is a rarity, pioneering NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has fostered a rebirth of public space in a car-congested city. Her pilot projects for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure are dramatically reframing the use of public space across the city. Pedestrian plazas, separated bicycle lanes and places for people to sit outside are taking over space previously dominated by motorized traffic. While these changes haven’t always been accepted with open arms, the explicit inclusion of people on bicycles and on foot as part of the formal transportation network is legitimatizing active transportation in a city previously known for its crawling motorized traffic and crowded subways.
The Ride Home
Holding her bike in the transit interchange, my understandably tired-looking girlfriend suggested we finish our long day of exploring and head home on the train. “I’m not feeling hardcore enough.” I agreed with Megan. The warmth of the train was far more welcoming than the darkness, rain and hills that awaited our trail-weary bodies. The small but increasing changes towards transit integration have made a world of difference for budding civil cyclists like us.
The bicycle infrastructure that passes by our house, connects us to where we live, work and play, and allows us to link to farther-away neighborhoods by transit has made using our bicycles feel like a normal way to get around. As the network outside our doors becomes more complete and easier to use, more people like us will see bicycles as an attractive transportation choice. We don’t feel like our transportation choice has made us “hardcore,” we feel like we’re standing on the edge of an exciting new normal.
Urban planner and designer Brendan Hurley focuses on adaptive urban change to make vibrant and sustainable communities. He and graphic designer Megan Finnerty live and work in Vancouver.