With Citizens’ Help, Cities Can Build A Better Bike Lane — And More

With Citizens’ Help, Cities Can Build A Better Bike Lane — And More

As Burlington and other cities adopt the scrappy tactics of their citizens, they’ll need to show that they can make good on tactical urbanism’s original principles — to move faster, try new things, and not be afraid to fail.

Tactical urbanism. So it has a name.

From Laurel Wamsley/NPR.

Only A Slow Internet Connection And Reddit Can Interrupt You From Participating In Plan Bay Area’s Virtual Workshop

Plan Bay Area Logo

For those who were put off by the incivility at recent public meetings in support of Plan Bay Area, residents can now participate and send comments to regional planners at their Virtual Workshop.

There’s less text than one would expect for a blueprint to help guide land use and transportation planning and policy for the next few decades, but there are easy to watch videos and handouts to read. Oh, and plenty of opportunities to comment by way of numerous surveys (or simply email your comments as well).

Remember, Plan Bay Area is a joint regional effort by these important agencies: Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

FYI. The Virtual Workshop is open until Wednesday, 15 February 2012.

I Think Bay Area Residents Need A Reminder As To What Urban Planners Actually Do

Urban Planning and Legos
Youth collaborative community build guided by Denver city planners, architect, and streetscape designer. Photo by Cherie Lewis, August 6, 2011.

After repeated disruptions at regional plan workshops in support of Plan Bay Area across the San Francisco Bay Area, I think it would be a good time to remind residents what urban planners actually do.

Here’s an excerpt from John M. Levy’s Contemporary Urban Planning (pg. 95):

Planners are basically advisors. Alone, the planner does not have the power to do many of the things that cause change within the community: to commit public funds, to enact laws, to enter into contracts, or to exercise the power of eminent domain… The planner’s influence on events, then, stems from the capacity to articulate viewpoints and develop consensus and coalitions among those who do wield significant powers.

And similarly, of the importance of holding such workshops (pg. 95):

A more modern view is that good plans spring from the community itself. In this view the planner’s proper role is to facilitate the planning process and to aid it with his or her own expertise, rather than to deliver the plan full blown… The very act of participating in the planning process informs the citizen about the details of the plan. Giving time and energy to the process of planning builds the citizens’ commitment to the plan.

More positivity would help.

[photo via Cherie Lewis]

VTA Does Public Notices Right

Kato Road Grade Separation Project - VTA Public Notice 2011.09.16

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which provides public transportation services through Santa Clara County (including the communities of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale), serves a very diverse South Bay population.

Because of this fact of life, VTA must communicate with people who communicate in many languages, and as such, its organization materials must reflect that.

See VTA’s recently published public notice (above) for the Kato Road Grade Separation Project, part of the push to extend Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to San Jose (and the rest of Silicon Valley). Anyone familiar with Fremont knows it is a very diverse city, and VTA’s notice (as seen in the Contra Costa Times on 16 September 2011) for a public meeting in Fremont properly reflects the need to communicate and reach out to the community’s diverse residents.

The public notice was written in numerous languages, and it is an example of how a public notice should be made. Well done.

[iphoto via PJ]