Let’s Have Brunch On Our Bridges, Part II

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?

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Vacant Lot Transformation for Green Jobs and Neighborhood Revitalization

Vacant Lot Transformation for Green Jobs and Neighborhood 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!

Love to and From San Francisco

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?

Bicycle Love Story Redux

Bicycle Love Story Redux

I got this idea in a cafe in Pittsburgh last year and received several great submissions of Bicycle Love Stories. Read on for more information and send me your story and a photo if you’d like yours to be featured. I’ll repost a few of the stories from last year this week because they were so lovely.

If you can’t wait, here’s the way to find them: Bicycle Love Stories.

Tell Your Bicycle Love Story

I am looking for your stories.

And your friend’s stories, too. Please tell your friends who like words and like bikes.

I am looking to bring a personal perspective to people who ride bikes for transportation, exercise, or health, as a way to people watch.  Maybe you’re motivated by environmental, economical, ethical reasons. Maybe not.

I love bikes, I love being able to get where I want, when I want, and as fast or slow as I want. I relish the independence my bicycle affords me, and the ability to get in shape while getting around almost for free. I love that I never worry about gas prices, that I don’t have car or insurance payments, and that it’s always easy to meet new people while riding bikes.

I like making friends at stop lights.

I want to know what motivates and excites other people because I want to see more people on bikes in all of our cities. Because it is contagious and makes riding safer and more fun for everyone of all ages and abilities to ride when the numbers of bike riders increase.

Because bike traffic jams are fun.

For Even More Details…

Submission Details:

I want to hear how biking has changed your life.

I’m looking for joyful, swoony, excited non-fiction (now) stories celebrating bicycles and their impact on your life, family, or community.

If you can tell your story in  300-600 words, that’s best, but shorter or longer pieces are possible too. Please include at least one relevant photograph, a short bio (about two sentences, maybe longer), and a link to your website if you have one. I will include at least one new story/article/post weekly, and but I would love to include more if I receive a number of quality stories.

If you are interested in contributing something longer, or something else entirely, please let me know and we can discuss it.

Email submissions to: moregardenslesscars@gmail.com

Future topics will vary. Suggestions are welcome.

Pittsburgh, You Are Beautiful!

Pittsburgh, You Are Beautiful!

I am sad for my city that the Pittsburgh Steelers did not win the Super Bowl. Pittsburghers would have been so joyful for years to come if the Steelers had won the Super Bowl for the 7th time.

I watched and partied with everyone else but since we can’t celebrate the Steelers win, I want to celebrate the city of Pittsburgh by showing some pictures I really like of this city.

Pittsburgh, You Are Beautiful!

I’m kind of between cameras, so most were taken by photographers on Flickr who have listed their photos under Creative Commons. Thanks for sharing!

This is Heinz Field, home of the Steelers, taken by Flickr user brunkfordbraun.

This photo below is by my friend Dave.  Despite the criss-crossing highways and jail in the background, I think this is a beautiful photograph and scene. I love Pittsburgh’s steps! (More about Pittsburgh’s steps here). And I love the greenery! Pittsburgh, you’re beautiful!

This photo was taken on the Smithfield Bridge, one of about 446 bridges in Pittsburgh,  over the Monongahela River, one of exactly three rivers in Pittsburgh. This gorgeous photo is by Flickr user michaelrighi.

This incredible shot is the inside of the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Photo by Flickr user Talke Photography.

The photo below is of the 16th St Bridge, one I used to cross daily over the Allegheny River to go to work or the markets in the Strip District. I like this photo by simple pleasure. If you’re interested in reading an idea I have for the Strip District, check out How to Create a Shopping Paradise for Pedestrians: Carfree Saturdays in the Strip District.

These motivational steps in Bloomfield were photographed by macwagen.

I took the photo below of Allegheny Cemetery. This was at noon on a Friday. The sky was so strange!

Something else beautiful:

That 500 people turn out, in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, for the opening of a new bridge just for bicycles and pedestrians. Also beautiful, that Pittsburgh is building bridges for bicycles and pedestrians. Photo by Kordite.

If you’d like to see Pittsburgh in live action, I think the city looks fantastic in this video by Streetfilms, one of my very favorite organizations. I helped put it together for my job at Bike Pittsburgh and a friend recently suggested that I may have killed the internet by over-posting the video. Yikes, so tacky! But the city really does look GLORIOUS here, it’s impossible not to keep looking at!

Readings on Winter, Snow, Getting Stuck, and the Importance of Options

Readings on Winter, Snow, Getting Stuck, and the Importance of Options

For those of you who are following the three whole posts I’ve written since November and for those who have commented even when things seem dead on this side of things, thank you! I’m still getting back into the swing of things since the move.

Today I’d like to recommend some links that I’ve enjoyed recently for your reading pleasure or dinner party banter preparation.

Readings on Winter, Snow, Getting Stuck, and the Importance of Options

I really enjoyed Erik Weber’s piece yesterday in Greater Greater Washington about the different realities of a crippling snowstorm when you depend on a car to get to the suburbs (you get stuck, sometimes up to 13 hours as happened to many in the DC area) or you live in the city where you have the options of car, bus, train, bike, walking, and in some cases, even skiing to get around.

This excerpt is long but I think important and fits in quite well with topics I have addressed all over this blog: that dependence on cars — or any one type of transportation — is extremely limiting. What we need here in the U.S. and everywhere is the ability and availability for people to choose how they want to get around and be able to do that safely.

Cars give people mobility. But what’s more important is accessibility. Sometimes these are the same: if I live 10 miles from a grocery, and I own a car, I have access to the grocery.

But if my car breaks down, it snows a foot and a half, or I’m suddenly unable to drive for another reason, I no longer have access to that grocery. Because I’ve relied on a single means of mobility, when it is no longer available, both my mobility and accessibility are severely diminished.

Many people often argue that smart growth proponents (like me) are trying to force people of their cars in favor of biking, walking and transit. But, to me, growing smarter really is just providing more legitimate options. I don’t necessarily want to live in a place where you can’t have a car. Nor do I want to force other people to do so.

I do, though, want to live in a place where you don’t need a car, a place where, when driving is no longer an option, we are not imprisoned by our built environment.

Me too. What about you? Has snow made getting around harder? What’s your experience?

On transit

This is a link that I’ve been meaning to draw attention to for awhile.

This is a post from August that was recommended by a reader from a blog called “A Midwest Story.” It’s an analysis of public transportation perception in the U.S. and abroad, there are three posts before this one that address different facets of public transportation.

The American perspective:

The fact that American riders are poorer indicates that in U.S. public transportation services are focused on people that are unable to drive a car – because they cannot afford one or because they are to young or to poor. Now, if we eliminate the riders under 18, and we consider the  the other market segments – the poor and the disabled – in correlation with American culture , the conclusion is striking. In the U.S. public transit is considered by the public as well as their representatives as an alternative for the society’s destitute no different than public assistance services such as welfare and food stamps.

And the German perspective:

Unlike their American counterparts, Germans are more likely to use public transit indifferent of income or car ownership and, to a much larger extent, as a viable alternative for commuters. The way that politicians and their constituents regard public transportation is also different. At the local level, it is an alternative which lowers congestion in urban area and the  pollution damage to historical buildings. At the state and federal level it is a green, sustainable alternative. And for riders it is, beyond being the  only option for the poor and disabled, a comfortable alternative to spending empty hours commuting by car

What do you think?

On Fear

Check out Elly Blue’s post on Grist on fear and bicycles.

Many people don’t bike out of fear — with the most significant terrifying factor, of course, being cars. As many as 60 percent of people in U.S. cities would like to ride a bicycle if it weren’t for traffic-related concerns.

Yet..

Bicycling […] is astoundingly, incontrovertibly good for you. A 2009 review of the scientific literature found that the slight increase in risk from bicycle crashes is more than offset by the vast improvements in overall health and lifespan when you ride a bicycle for transportation. In fact, the health benefits of bicycling are nine times greater than the safety gains from driving instead.

And…

The real thing that’s killing us is that we continue to create places that impose barriers to actually being able to move your body. High-speed streets without sidewalks or crossings. Walkable neighborhoods where there is literally nowhere to go. Gyms accessible primarily by car.

Suggested Reading by Bike Pittsburgh

Some things I’m reading at work:

The Post-Gazette continues blaming pedestrians for the increase in pedestrian fatalities, but is this just more of the same “windshield perspective?”

Is bike-sharing a possibility in Pittsburgh?

Want to see some of the steepest streets in the world? Check out Rick Sebak’s video of the annual Pittsburgh bike race, the Dirty Dozen.

Grist goes over the six reasons free parking is the dumbest thing you’re subsidizing and StreetsBlog shows how European parking policies are leaving the US behind.

Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood touts how bike infrastructure creates more direct jobs, more indirect jobs, and more induced jobs per dollar than either road upgrades or road resurfacing with national bike advocates

New Streetfilms About Pittsburgh Out Today!

New Streetfilms About Pittsburgh Out Today!

Streetfilms just released their newest film about Pittsburgh! I worked for a while trying to convince Clarence Eckerson, Jr to come see how beautiful Pittsburgh is and to see the exciting and vibrant livable streets movement here.

If you’re not familiar with the work of Streetfilms, now is the time to start. They’ve made nearly 340 short films about livable streets around the world. It’s part of a genre I’ve been calling “Infrastructure Porn”.

Clarence came to Pittsburgh to film the video in November and today released his 7 minute snapshot of the city. It’s certainly worth a watch. Check out my post from last month about some of the excellent work of Streetfilms:

The Case for Separated Bike Lanes: Streetfilms is Coming to Pittsburgh

I can’t embed the Pittsburgh now, but take a look at it, the city looks spectacular!

Check it out here! And let me know what you think!

(I’m in it, and I had the opportunity to use the word “swoony”!)