A Call to 'Reconnect With Our Streets'

Allison Arieff writes a passionate plea for Americans to ditch the car and reconnect with pedestrian experiences. There's even a car company helping pave the way for a new approach to streets.

July 17, 2018, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Boise, Idao

Downtown Boise, with the plaza in front of the CenturyLink Arena in the foreground. | Charles Knowles / Shutterstock

"Most of us pass through the places where we live, work and play not on two feet or two wheels but in cars," writes Arieff. "We are disconnected from our streets — and so we don’t care about them."

Arieff's eloquence in stating the problem is unparalleled, but the attention quickly turns to solutions. A car company, Ford, provides the perhaps surprising source of inspiration for the article. According to Arieff, "Ford, like many other automobile manufacturers, sees the writing on the wall….Ford has been steadily diversifying from a car company to a 'mobility company.'"

The company has proven itself by funding the National Street Service, which has piloted in Boise, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Pontiac. "Over the course of 10 weeks, participants first observe and learn about their favorite (and least favorite) streets and then brainstorm ideas for low-cost interventions to make those streets better," explains Arieff. "Volunteers and project leaders then collaborate on a larger-scale effort to carry out some of those ideas and engage their respective communities."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 in The New York Times

The New York Public Library's stone lions Patience and Fortitude have donned face masks to remind New Yorkers to wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Top Urban Planning Books of 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the top urban planning books of the year is here—maintaining a tradition that dates back to 2002.

November 26, 2021 - James Brasuell

Empty Road

The Roadway Expansion Paradox

Motorists want expensive roadway expansions provided that somebody else foots the bill, but when required to pay directly through tolls, the need for more capacity often disappears. What should planners do?

November 28, 2021 - Todd Litman


Urban Exodus: Data Don't Support the Popular Pandemic Narrative

Americans fled cities in waves during the pandemic, right? Not to so fast.

November 30, 2021 - Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

A mile marker showing mile zero of the Great Allegheny Passage, which is a bike and pedestrian path that begins in Cumberland, Maryland and ends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Measuring the Economic Impact of the Great Allegheny Passage

Small communities once dependent on coal, coke, paper, lumber, and manufacturing now have a 150-mile bike and pedestrian path contributing to the local economy.

53 minutes ago - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Houston, Texas

Houston Could End Homelessness With Less Than 2,000 Housing Units

Houston's homeless response program has yielded strong results in the last few years. Just 1,900 new affordable housing units could 'effectively end' homelessness in the city.

1 hour ago - Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research

California State Capital

Land Use Regulations on a Collision Course in California

The future of planning in California depends on how lawyers reconcile the Housing Accountability Act with the California Environmental Quality Act.

2 hours ago - State & Local Government Law Blog

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.