Lydon is the Founding Principal of The Street Plans Collaborative, an urban planning, advocacy and design firm, and is also a blooger on Planetizen Interchange.
"City / Culture: You've compiled a timeline that shows when different North American cities adapted open streets initiatives. The timeline shows 35 cities and one state (Kentucky) having added events since 2008, as compared to seven cities from 1970-2007. What changed?
Mike Lydon: There are lots of converging issues. One, the repopulating of cities, and the desire of people interested in living in cities to make them more livable. There's a whole public health side of things – getting more active and healthy walking and biking opportunities plays into that. You see community activists reclaiming the streets from automobiles, making them more multi-purpose, so they can meet more needs.
When a city starts setting a new precedent for an exciting and very significant solution to a problem, a lot of cities tend to follow. We call those early cities, "pattern cities." Bogotá is a pattern city in South America, and other cities follow suit, and that wisdom filtered up to North America. Now you see many more overt efforts and intents to integrate bicycling and walking into initiatives throughout North American cities."