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.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Is seeing believing? Gondola transit service and Staten Island

Notions Capital calls our attention to an article in New York Magazine, "Staten Island Really Wants a Gondola Connecting It to New Jersey," about a proposal for gondola transit service between Staten Island and Bayonne, New Jersey. (Also see "Aerial gondola to Staten Island 'appealing,' mayor says," Staten Island Advance).

A trip would take six minutes, and connect to the PATH train into Manhattan, for a total 33-minute trip to "the city," much quicker compared to current options--bridges or getting to St. George by car or transit and then taking the Staten Island Ferry across

Photo: Staten Island Advance.

The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation has organized a "show and tell" with a gondola car, taking it around the Island, to build support for doing a feasibility study.

Here's the schedule for the next few days:

April 22: Staten Island Mall, (East Pacific/Chase Back Parking Lot), 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

April 23: Father Capodanno Boardwalk (Sand Lane parking lot), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

April 24: St. John's University Staten Island Campus, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Wagner College, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

April 25: The cabin will drive through the "SIEDC Neighborhood Development towns" of Richmond Road, New Dorp, Huguenot and Richmond Valley for public viewing, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

April 27: SIEDC Business Conference at Hilton Garden Inn, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

I used to be more critical of proposals for gondolas (not so much aerial trams), but now recognize that can be a useful element within transit networks, depending on the nature of the network, topography, gaps, and how to address gaps.

I am still critical of many such proposals, but see how proposals connecting Rosslyn and Georgetown in DC, or serving the Don Valley in Toronto, can make a lot of sense.

In various cities, but particularly Medellín, Colombia, gondolas have been a key element in improving "social inclusion" by providing transit and mobility options to communities that had been disconnected and isolated because they are located on steep hills.  The city has also installed public escalators in some places for the same reason.  This is an element of what they call "social urbanism."

-- "'Social urbanism' experiment breathes new life into Colombia's Medellin," Toronto Globe & Mail
-- "Medellín's 'social urbanism' a model for city transformation," Mail & Guardian
-- "Medellín slum gets giant outdoor escalator," Telegraph
-- "Medellín, Colombia offers an unlikely model for urban renaissance," Toronto Star

The interesting element is marketing transit and the potential for transit in an environment that generally denigrates transit, public goods, the actions of governments and nonprofits, and even innovation.

Note that one of the arguments that will always be made by the opposition is that the transit project is good only for developers, that it's just a way for them to make money.

I used the Don Valley proposal as an example of top notch marketing in this entry, "Transit stuff #3: Marketing the benefits of new transit proposals."
But it's still a tough slog because the forces that promote automobility and gasoline consumption are so much stronger.  It takes brave elected officials and stakeholders to move such projects forward.

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At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the more that this is attempted elsewhere the more likely it could become feasible and acceptable here

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Good point.

I just found out that the gondola in SI was first displayed here, at a mini-conference that GTBID did.

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

neighborhoods and local organizations here are often very slow on the uptake for innovative ideas such as a gondola or cable lift. They need to see this done to get their heads wrapped around it all. Just like the streetcars- one wonders how many of the opposition elements to the streetcars have been overseas and seen it done before? Its as though some of these people have never been anywhere else. Same goes with protected bicycle tracks- there had been huge resistance to these until just a few years back. Yet all of the places the cycling advocates champion have separated bike tracks or similar facilities.


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