“The STROAD design — a street/road hybrid — is the futon of transportation alternatives. Where a futon is a piece of furniture that serves both as an uncomfortable couch and an uncomfortable bed, a STROAD moves cars at speeds too slow to get around efficiently but too fast to support productive private sector investment. The result is an expensive highway and a declining tax base.”—
Gentrification is the word of the day in Oakland. Everywhere you look people are asking, “Am I a gentrifier? Is it bad? Should I care?” What people don’t seem to realize is it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you a gentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there.
If you come into someone’s home, do you immediately start rearranging it and moving furniture in? Do you throw away their family photo albums and tell them they have to go to bed at an earlier time or play their music at a lower volume?
No, of course not. You get to know each other, decide if you get along, and, once your host has decided you can stay, you ask politely if there is space to put your stuff. So why do you think you can move into someone else’s neighborhood and start making it over as your own?
2. Recognize all the people outside of your door as your neighbors, even if they look different from you and live under different circumstances. This includes the homeless who sleep on the street, the drug dealers who sell outside the liquor store, and the prostitutes walking your streets. Replace the words homeless, drug dealer, and prostitute with the word neighbor. Treating these folks with respect and dignity from the beginning will give you later leverage to talk to them about changing their behavior and getting out of the life.
3. Change the way you look at said neighbors by changing the language you use to describe them. Think about the motivations for their actions. Instead of “that prostitute was out all night selling her body” think “my neighbor (insert name here) was forced by her pimp to stand out in the cold all night and have sex with multiple men she didn’t know.” See if that doesn’t change your opinion of her.
13. Recognize Oakland has a very unique and vibrant history and culture, and you were attracted to this city because of the energy that is already here. You should be here to add to that history and culture, not to erase it. We are not San Francisco. We don’t want to be San Francisco. So please don’t try to remake our city in San Francisco’s image. And remember, you don’t gain culture by eating a burrito. You gain culture by engaging in a real and meaningful manner with the person who makes the burrito.
On June 11, 2013, Gov. Nikki Haley handed owners of abandoned buildings a magic wand when she signed into law the most powerful incentive for neighborhood revitalization that South Carolina has ever seen.
The ABRA offers an income tax credit of up to 25 percent of the expenses involved in rehabilitating any income-producing building (historic or otherwise) that has been at least two-thirds vacant for five years or more.
A person could look at rust belt cities today and see the influx of young, educated, ambitious people eager for change, the earnest and entrepreneurial spirit of the place, the heritage of hard work, the opportunity for impact, and say “This place, this is the future.”
Another person could look at the boarded up buildings, vacant lots, half demolished brick facades, encroaching parking lots, rotting infrastructure, unpredictable crime and say “This is a post-apocalyptic wasteland.”
Three architects I hold immense respect for discussing the ‘SkyCycle’ concept for London.
Personally, I see the segregation of cyclists to elevated tracks as a ceding of city streets to automobiles. Whereas the streets of Copenhagen and Amsterdam are full of faces and feel “soft” due to the slow speeds and steady stream of cyclists, this concept syphons life away from the streets. It’s very modernist really, as it seems the central guiding principle is the reduction of friction (as it is for all highways). As Jane Jacobs and many others have stated more eloquently though, urban life is friction. London, in my personal opinion, deserves safe and comfortable streets for cyclists rather than their vertical segregation.
The SkyCycle concept nullifies one of the key beauties of cycling in the city which Kristian describes well, “You can diversify your route to incorporate your shopping, visiting the library, or pick up the kids. If you are up on a segregated highway, you are not offered the conveniences that characterize the bicycle ride.” Cycling offers the opportunity to stop at a moment’s notice to become a pedestrian (perhaps a storefront caught your eye, or a friend was sitting on a bench). This could not occur with an elevated cycle way.
That said, Henriette makes a great point that there is a real distinction in the needs of long distance bicycle commuters (which most cities simply don’t have yet) and city biking. My perspective is born of the latter camp as I’ve never lived more than a couple miles from my work. Henriette bikes several times that distance every day and can speak to that perspective empathetically. In conjunction with amenities for cyclists at street level… perhaps the concept has a place. At the very least the proposal has spurred a lot of great conversation amongst many people in the field of urban design and planning.
Lots of insightful considerations in their discussion. Take a moment, give it a read, and please share your thoughts. I’d be very interested to hear them.
“So there I was: In San Francisco — one of the greatest and most prosperous cities in our country — watching a man on his knees, struggling to hear through bullet proof glass, trying to access nutrition assistance from our Federal government.”—Jake Solomon, "People, Not Data"