Friday, June 17, 2011

The Last Post

It has been many week since I have written a post. This is due to a variety of reasons.

I am currently working as an intern at the United States Senate. I am involved in variety of projects and activities related to a variety of topics. My primary focus has been active transportation in relation to obesity prevention.

I will no longer be posting in this space because this space no longer has the capacity to reflect my current and full views.

I was initially attracted to writing on the topic of "Urban Transport Revolution" (or initially as "Transportation Solutions from a Burqueño") as a result of trying to follow the ideas and concepts of the existing Streetsblog community. Having an existing blogging network to join seemed much easier than trying to create a following from scratch. While this concept worked well for awhile, it eventually led to posts which were too focused on urban transport related issues vs. larger concepts that I wanted to cover.

I love the Streetsblog community and I find it wonderful. However, I personally want to explore some broader concepts related to transportation, urbanism, history, built environment, government and community. Since the title "Urban Transport Revolution" fails to cover all those bases, I can not post here anymore. The current title also alienates many parties that i would like to appeal to. I have changed the name of this blog too many times already; another name change would be defeating to my overall purpose of this space, as well as make it inconsistent with previous posts in this space.

KEY POINT: I will no longer be posting consistently here. HOWEVER, once I have a better idea of what I want to write about, I will begin writing again, on the Wordpress platform. Once I figure out the logistics of that, I will post the link to my new web log here.

Thank you for reading! Though I will not be posting here anymore, emails, comments and questions are always welcome.

Dan M.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Free Spaces Make for Protest Places

Gathering space for people is important for human society. Take the example of Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain.

I spent a fair amount of time in this incredible space just a few months ago. It is truly the Sol ~ soul of the entire country. Every road radiates outward from this point to places all over Europe. It is the center of everything in Spain. Read more about it here.

In the late 2000's, this site, which had been a busy vehicle filled transportation hub, was converted into a mostly car fee space. The transportation has all been moved underground. It is now THE gathering spot of Madrid, as well as the rest of the country.

"Gathering" also sometimes includes protest. This is fantastic. Having a space where people can gather peacefully and safely in large numbers is crucial to a functioning democracy. We all saw how important this was in Egypt with Tahir Square. We also saw how it all plays out when democracy doesn't exist: China, Tiananmen Square, 1989.

Humans have always gathered. It used to be over a campfire but it has changed quite a bit over time.

Watch the live feed below. As of this posting, it shows the occupation of Puerta del Sol in Madrid. How it all plays out will only be known over time. Twitter has played a role but overall, it's space, place and people.

Free live streaming by Ustream

Monday, May 9, 2011

Video: "Complete Streets"

In my writings, I frequently mention terms such as "walkability", "livability", mode share", "bus rapid transit", bike friendly" and "transit oriented". Some of you may know what they mean and maybe you've heard them before. However, even if you do know what they mean, it is hard to visualize these words. It is difficult to translate these words into an actual physical space.

Another term I constantly mention is "complete street". I define it as a street for all users: cars, bikes, pedestrians, skateboards, children, transit users, transit vehicles, trucks, you know, everyone and everything.

If you've ever had a hard time visualizing a complete street, today is your lucky day! Streetfilms just released a very in depth video on complete streets.

Watch it right here:

My favorite part about this video is the people they interview. They ask pedestrians about the bike lanes, transit users about pedestrian plazas, car drivers about safer sidewalks. The big takeaway from all of this is mutual benefit. If a street is made safer for pedestrians, it is probably made safer for car drivers as well. Sure, you may have to wait at the light for another 5 seconds but you are also more likely to make it home alive! I think that's something we can all get behind.

In regards to this video, one small caveat: This is NYC they are talking about. This is a city where, as they said, over 50% of people do not own cars! Essentially, it's crazy to think that these complete streets policies are only now being implemented.

What about Tucson? Or Albuquerque? Or even Denver? Most people in these cities a) own cars and b) drive everywhere. Can we even compare these cities with the mighty Big Apple?

I would argue that we can. All of these cities have significant numbers of people who do not own cars. Maybe these people get a ride with friends or buy a car not because they want to but because they feel like there is no other choice.

Gas prices are on the rise again and more people are out biking and riding transit. As communities, will we support these people or continue pushing them to the margins?

I think the video speaks for itself.