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."

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