Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Programming plans as a step forward and component in urban planning

With regard to bicycle and pedestrian planning, and sustainable transportation planning more broadly, I am arguing that the next stage in planning in these areas to provide implementation programs, focused not just on infrastructure but also on programming, at the sub-city/sub-county level.

Increasingly, jurisdictions are creating city wide or county wide bicycle and pedestrian plans. (Not so much transit and transportation plans.)

But I think we need to break them down to the sub-city level, say along ward, neighborhood, and/or "areas" (e.g., DC has "Area Elements").

The London (UK) Cyclist Campaign (borough-based groups) and the Toronto (Canada) Cyclists Union (ward updates) are particularly good at doing organizing along these lines, although Transportation Alternatives in NYC has some strong borough based campaigns too.

Washcycle calls our attention to this article from the Good Magazine Cities network, "The Invisible Cyclists: Immigrants and the Bike Community," about how providing focused attention (and lights) to Latino bicyclists cycling at night without lights helped engage these riders into bike planning and "social justice."

This is an example of the point I am trying to make, that sustainable transportation planning needs to focus on actively engaging various demographics.

I got into a big argument with the Maryland state B&P coordinator about this last year, because I argued he wasn't seeing the point systematically, that his focus on one or two underserved groups came at the exclusion of all the other groups that were also being excluded, (by demographics -- age, gender, race, income, household type) but that he skipped over because he wasn't employing a systematic approach. (Bike plans have a bad habit of relying on online surveys, which end up excluding many potential segments.)

Anyway, I first wrote about this idea in "Ideas for making bicycling irresistible in Washington DC" in 2008 and it was further developed in the Western Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plan, for which I was project manager/chief writer.

While I didn't define how to do it, the plan calls for the creation of 'sustainable transportation elements' within community plans, which would provide for infrastructure and programming plans at the community level.

And this is a few weeks away from being enacted, by ordinance (the draft plan hasn't yet gone into the public hearing process), in Baltimore County.

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