The Next American City on Ciclovias Nationwide

June 1, 2010 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Today’s Next American City has an article by Yonah Freemark entitled Summer streets gain prominence nationwide. “Summer Streets” is the New York City version of the worldwide ciclovia phenomenon. Freemark praises the trend of ciclovias spreading throughout the United States. He neglects to mention ciclovia’s Latin American origins and prominence, and even its worldwide significance.  Though he likes ciclovia’s grassroots leadership, Freemark expresses skepticism of ciclovias’ impacts for lasting change on our cities. Here’s an excerpt:

In very important ways, this most recent foray into street policy is vastly different from precedent examples. Unlike those government-led construction projects, these summer streets are ephemeral explorations of urban mutation, and they’re often initiated and sometimes even led by groups of non-profits and interested individuals. The best summer streets are those that allow people to do whatever they want, however they want. Preset prescriptions for street use seem to be a thing of the past.

In other words, it’s citizen-led planning, in opposition to the top-down re-figuring of streets that has marked most recent planning history.

But being democratic does not necessarily mean particularly positive results. Indeed, the whole concept of the “summer street” may say more about transient citizen excitement than actually represent a compelling planning goal.

Read the full article here. What do you think? Are ciclovias changing our cities? or just “transient … excitement”? Some of think that Los Angeles could use more transient excitement!

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