Opinion: Support Citizen-Led Public Space Projects

A public space advocate outlines how Philadelphia’s city leaders could support the parklets, plazas, and other public space conversions that proliferated during the pandemic.

Read Time: 1 minute

September 26, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


In an opinion piece on WHYY, Ariel Ben-Amos argues that Philadelphia should make it easier for residents to improve their local streets through interventions that reclaim public space and contribute to more vibrant, active communities.

Now is the time to reduce technical burdens and invest in programs and projects that empower communities, rather than slow down their ability to control their streets and make them safer, or a more attractive place to be.

Yet in the rush back toward ‘normalcy,’ Ben-Amos argues, the city is forgetting some valuable lessons from the pandemic. “When we citizens improve and steward their streets and create public space using parklets, pedestrian plazas, and benches, we calm traffic, make it easier for young and old to get around, and reduce environmental stress.”

 With local elections coming up, Ben-Amos urges readers to support candidates who will invest in community efforts to improve public space and give citizens the tools to design and maintain public space projects. “Public space isn’t missing in communities because people don’t want to use them everywhere, it’s missing in marginalized communities because it’s harder to do the work there, with less funding and less civic infrastructure.” According to Ben-Ramos, “Philadelphians need a vision that includes a more democratic and more equitable approach to our collective front stoops.”

Thursday, September 22, 2022 in WHYY

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

A tent covered in blue and black tarps sits on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk with the white ziggurat-topped L.A. City Hall looming in the background

L.A. County Towns Clash Over Homelessness Policies

Local governments often come to different conclusions about how to address homelessness within their respective borders, but varying approaches only exacerbate the problem.

February 3 - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of mixed-use development with parks and stormwater retention on former Houston landfill site

A Mixed-Use Vision for Houston Landfill Site

A local nonprofit is urging the city to consider adding mixed-use development to the site, which city officials plan to turn into a stormwater detention facility.

February 3 - Urban Edge

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

February 3 - Urban Milwaukee