September 22, 2007

Contested streets

"Contested Streets" is the title of a documentary about the successful limiting of auto use is Paris, Copenhagen, and London and the strategies that can be implemented in New York City. There is a Toronto screening in October, you can watch a preview on You Tube, but I have not heard of a local screening. Today is International Car Free Day. I don't think many Cal Bears fans celebrated this occasion given the numerous cars on the street whose drivers were heading to the stadium and searching for parking. We drove to the grocery store today after an 8-mile run so I voted "Yes I have to do it today" in Spacing Toronto's Do you plan to drive on Car Free Day? poll. If you drove today maybe you pre-absolved yourself by participating in one of Friday's international Park(ing) Day celebrations. (The parking space to public park project is sponsored nationally by the Trust for Public Land and now has its own website.) Although Park(ing) Day sets out to highlight the need and desire for more park space in cities, it chooses to do so in a parking space, effectively contesting the predominance of auto uses on public land. (See my comparative map of roads and parking lots to non-auto open space in Castro Valley, CA.) Missed the celebration? Eran Ben-Joseph, MIT Professor and UC Berkeley graduate, will give a lecture titled "Park(ing)" on November 5 in the UCB Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. If you did not celebrate International Car Free Day or Park(ing) Day, if have not seen "Contested Streets" and will not attend Ben-Joseph's lecture, then maybe you can transform a parking lot into a "Greener P" (if you own one or your friend owns one) or you can lobby your city to do so.* Greener P is a green parking lot concept developed by Plant for the City of Toronto's 150 surface lots. The lot would feature solar lighting, green furniture, alternative vehicle parking, permeable paving, shade trees, green walls, and a rain garden. This is a permanent solution unlike Park(ing) Day's one day a year approach. Although the lot is "greener" it is not park space, but I have not heard about the permanent transformation of parking spaces to parks as a result of park(ing) celebrations. Granted, it is only the third year of the project. I think both concepts are needed. Maybe a Greener P would have room for fewer cars and if all surface lots became Greener P's Ps there would be less room to park cars and thus fewer cars being driven, at least in areas with Greener Ps. Also, maybe Greener Ps could give preference to bicycles and other non-petroleum modes of transportation. Sustainable change and strategies can emerge from a plethora and diversity of design and planning concepts. A vehicle-free society is utopian, but we can strive to limit vehicle use and to promote bus and rail public transportation (note: highways are publicly funded) and non-vehicular options. I read recently that "someone is not a person" so I say that somewhere is not a place. We need to start where we live (i.e., places) and Berkeley has a reputation for leading environmental reform (think daylighted creeks and traffic diverters). * [via Garden Rant]

2 comments:

  1. Improving streets for bikes and peds is an important part of making not just greener but more enjoyable neighborhoods! Thought folks reading this might also be interested in this effort in NYC to take back some car lanes for bikes and peds:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/nyregion/23streetfuture.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Minona, thanks for the comment and link (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/nyregion/23streetfuture.html).

    The "buffer lane" between cycles and parked cars is genius! One of my biggest fears when bicycling is being whacked by a driver Swinging in to park or opening his/ her door, and I live in the Bay Area! Berkeley's bike boulevards are nice places to ride, but drivers have less patience on other roads.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting on this post!
Sign up to receive new posts in your inbox - http://bit.ly/localeconews.