Right of Way: Organizing for equitable, walkable communities

Healthy, vibrant communities are often places where you can walk safely to school, the grocery store, or just down the street to a neighbors house. Walkable communities are good for our physical health, but also our neighborhood's health. And yet, pedestrian deaths are up 50% in the last decade, and the stark geographic patterns of traffic violence tell a story about systemic inequality—where immigrants, the poor, and people of color are disproportionately impacted by traffic violence.

How will a new bridge project impact the Anacostia River?

Tensions around a DC bridge reveal the historical and contemporary realities of how marginalized communities continue to be limited the full breadth of services afforded to other communities, both on land and in the water.

Does NYC need a pedestrian plaza?

Is the grand public-space experiment in New York City's Times Square at risk? Perhaps, according to this recent piece on City Lab. We asked a few of our authors to comment on the potential elimination of this pedestrian plaza in the city that never sleeps. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.   James S. Russell Disappearing the Desnudas It’s desnudas versus New York City.  Somehow shapely underclad women who’ve body-painted scanty tops have become a crisis in the city, requiring the demolition of plazas being built to make Times Square civilized. The mayor and police commissioner overreacted, blaming the paving stones for this offensive (to some) innovation in the age-old art of the busker. To separate tourists and pedestrians from their cash, you gotta get a gimmick, as Ms. Mazeppa said in the musical “Gypsy.” And painted breasts certainly got everyone’s attention. But the reaction is of a piece with America’s fear of public space. In other countries, a town square, or boulevardized street with wide sidewalks and cafés, invites conviviality as people stroll, take coffee, or hang out. In America, we assume that any public space that is not cordoned off for some “useful” purpose can only become a refuge for criminals, the homeless, and the mentally unstable. (In many suburbs, even sidewalks are looked on with suspicion. )   The police commissioner has concluded that plazas—permitting louche idleness instead of puritanical destination-focused purposefulness—conjured the presence of nude women. The solution? “Removal” of the problem. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, but a common one, unfortunately.
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The Triumph of Multifamily Housing

  Attractive pedestrian paths in Eola Heights, Salem, OR. Photo courtesy Nico Larco, Kristin Kelsey, and Amanda West.
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Complete Streets: Changing Design AND Decisions around the Nation

The stories of success keep rolling in. Portland Maine turned summer maintenance projects into Complete Streets improvement opportunities. Detroit’s Woodward Avenue will be redesigned as a major transit corridor, while Lansing has received the state’s first counterflow bicycle lane, courtesy of MIDOT. And Helena, Montana is requiring sidewalks in new subdivisions.