Open Streets (are) for People

Lolly Walsh:

This post about Open Streets is on my new blog at lollywalsh.com.

Originally posted on Lolly Walsh. Writing + Editing.:

Let’s Open the Streets for People!

According to urban planning heartthrob Gil Peñalosa, Open Streets means “people traffic replaces car traffic, and the streets become ‘paved parks’ where people of all ages, abilities, and social, economic, or ethnic backgrounds can come out and improve their mental, physical, and emotional health.”

“Open Streets” as a concept has been around since the mid-60s when Seattle created the car-free celebration “Seattle Bicycle Sundays.” While a smattering of similar events popped up around North America that decade, they didn’t last long. Bogotá, Columbia introduced their own version, Ciclovía, in 1974 and has been a primary source of inspiration for today’s Open Streets initiatives. Bogotá’s Ciclovía ambitiously closes 70 miles of the city to cars and opens them to one million participants every Sunday.

I was so smitten with this idea that I gathered together some like-minded individuals to organize the first Car-free Day in Washington, DC in 2007. It started…

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Let’s Have Brunch On Our Bridges, Part II

Let’s Have Brunch On Our Bridges, Part I is from 2010, but it’s Sunday and I’m thinking about brunch again so I remembered this idea.

Say, Pittsburgh and other cities with (nice) bridges…

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have brunch on our bridges once in awhile? This time lapse video shows how they do it for the Portland Bridge Festival.


Brunch On the brige

Originally uploaded by Aaron I. Rogosin

Mmmm, Pittsburgh, you are delicious. There are so many great bridges to choose from here, so many beautiful things to see around the city which we just can’t appreciate when driving 25-75 mph over a bridge. You need to (be able to) stop and sit and eat brunch with your neighbors in order to be able to take it in.

I took these pictures last week while a friend was driving. They’re okay, but they leave me dying to stop and see more!

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Riding or walking makes it possible to take in the sumptuous view more thoroughly, but the opportunity to sit and relax and talk to people and eat and absorb the city over one of our three rivers isn’t a regular experience of people here.

I think it should be.

This fits in to what I was thinking at 2 o clock in the morning several years ago when I came up with the awkward name of this blog “Re-imagine an Urban Paradise.” After all, what is could be more of an urban paradise than a temporary retreat on one of the bridges, over the rivers? Feeling the gorgeous summer breeze while having the opportunity to have brunch in a magical space?

What Else is Possible?

  • Repurposing a bridge permanently!
  • Let’s turn a bridge into a public park.
  • And extend the public market onto one of the bridges, with outdoor cafes (without door cafes?).
  • Let’s have all age dance parties every night during warm weather on one side of the bridge.
  • And show movies over the river!
  • Let’s have music and art performances.
  • Let’s have some grass and trees and flowers!
I think at least half of the space should always always comfortable public gathering space that is free and has clean and attractive drinking and bathroom facilities.

What Would You Like to See?

If you could have it your way, what would you do with the space? Imagine any bridge in any city. Then re-imagine it. Suddenly it’s not just for transportation anymore. What else could it be?

Poll: How Often Do You Use Public Transportation?

I don’t know about you — hence, the flashy poll– but I use public transportation all the time. How often do you ride the bus, the streetcar, the metro, subway, train, incline, ferry, people mover? I’ve always tried to live in cities that have excellent public transit so that I don’t have to spend money on a car, and I can use my money instead for adventures.

I ride a bike and I walk a lot. But sometimes it’s nice to have someone else paying attention so I can pay my fare, relax, read my book, and get there on time and in style.

Reading on the bus

Like every service in this country that is for the public good, it is facing funding shortages. In cities around the country there are service cuts, layoffs, and an increased reliance on automotive transportation to get around.

Last year Pittsburgh had a 15% service and route cuts on an already shaky and skeletal system. Though often called the “Most Livable City,” Pittsburgh’s meager public transportation system is facing another 35% in cuts! Even in dense neighborhoods with the most bus routes and riders, buses are often 30 minutes apart now, and there will be even fewer if funding does not come through from Governor Tom Corbett. If a bus route even still exists after this systemic demolition, it’s likely that it will stop at 10pm. This truly is a travesty which will leave many Pennsylvanians stranded.

Public transportation is a resource for everyone. It makes the most sense for our money, our land use, for efficiency, for socializing, for socialization, for our time, our sanity, our quality of life, for our lungs, and for our future.

Pittsburgh bus in Lawrenceville

 

What are your thoughts?

Vacant Lot Transformation for Green Jobs and Neighbhoodhood Revitalization

I just found this little blue-print I drew up for a vacant lot by one of my houses in Pittsburgh. I never had the chance to put this into place, but it would be wonderful to have more non-consumerist places to spend time between home and work.

Break it Down!

There’s tons of space in Pittsburgh and tons of bricks from demolitions so it would be pretty great to build a rainy or very sunny day pavilion as you see in the top left corner.

The top right corner would hold the Constance Street community bread / pizza oven and would also benefit from spare bricks.

Going down the top center are several long picnic tables.

Trees are much needed on this highway-side of Pittsburgh’s Northside so some nice fruit and shade trees in the middle of a block will sooth the residents and be beautiful and delicious. Sporadic dots both labeled and unlabeled represent trees.

The bottom center of the lot includes plans for some weird seating to be designed by one or several of Pittsburgh’s many amazing artists.

And at the very bottom, a lovely long row of soil-cleansing, sun-worshiping, smile-making sunflowers!

Let’s Make Green Jobs Fixing Our Communities

We have so much public land that’s being wasted as over-grown and trash-filled lots. At the same time, we have so many under and unemployed people. Let’s find a way to create and fund jobs that would enhance our communities, like rehabilitating abandoned lots, while putting under-worked Americans back in the workforce.

I’m underemployed myself and I’d jump at the chance to have a part-time job cleaning up and beautifying my neighborhood.

Give Me Work and Give Me Beauty

We want bread but we want roses too!

Seven Things You Can Do to Protect Air, Water, and Soil Quality

These tips are taken from the posts “Thank You Pittsburgh For Banning Marcellus Shale Drilling” and “Drilling for Natural Gas in the Marcellus Shale: What’s It All About and What Can We Do.”  They are specifically about working to protect air, water, and soil quality from the dangers of natural gas fracking. Of course, the last three can apply to anything.

  1. Check out Marcellus Protest
  2. Here are some tips from Pittsburgh organizer Gloria Forouzan
  3. Watch background and analysis of Marcellus Shale industry by the Real News Network
  4. Watch Gasland and share your story
  5. Write letters to the editor
  6. Talk to your neighbors
  7. Educate yourself

Love to and From San Francisco

105 years after the legendary earthquake that shook San Francisco to the ground, I lived through my first San Francisco earthquake. I didn’t even feel it, but I was there when it happened.

You probably don’t know, but I skipped out of Pittsburgh last month and now I’m living and working in the Bay Area. To celebrate San Francisco, I will share some of my favorite scenes so far:

My first sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge:

My bicycle on a greenway:

Bikes are everywhere. These are bikes that people use to ride to work, friend’s houses, grocery stores, coffee shops. I love it.

And I enjoy this amazing tree outside my window that provides incredible shade and a home for many wonderful birds.

This temporary street furniture suited me just fine! I got to a friend’s house way before they did recently and found this lovely table and chair set up so I just made myself comfortable and got to work. When I was done, some lucky person in need of a new table and chair moved it to their place.

I’ll probably furnish my new place in much of the same way.

I’m fond of this one-man band set-up of a charming fellow I met on Market St.

I’m still the newest lady in San Francisco so every single thing is new and amazing to me. Send me all of your recommendations so I may take them seriously!

What are your favorite places?

to eat? to drink? buy books? read books? to frolic? to ride your bike? to hide from the world?