Transforming Vacant Lots into Public Spaces

One thing we heard loud and clear at our planning open house for The Loop was the desire for more public space. I heard Gertrude Stein paraphrased a number of times as people joked, “There is no there there.” Public spaces are taken for granted in a downtown area, where parks and squares are common threads in […]

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Embracing the “Public” in Public Use

We travel down streets everyday, but rarely do we ask how this messy mix of buildings, people, and infrastructure came to be. Who planned this? Planning used to be fairly straightforward — it came from one person with a vision. A planner would look at a public space, decide the best use for it, and […]

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Street Fight

If you hear a voice that says that you can’t transform a street, by all means transform that street, and that voice will be silenced. — Janette Sadik-Khan (@JSadikKhan) February 28, 2017

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Play Streets

On a recent post about restoring the downtown street grid, Matt Boehner, planner for our city’s Parks and Recreation Department, had a great comment about reclaiming streets. Without a doubt, the default use of streets has become cars and any other use is considered an exception to that rule. (In fact, Vox recently had a […]

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Unclear on the Concept

“Really one of the things I’m most concerned about is that you’re going to have a bench that is 6 feet away from a diner’s table.” Dear Mr. Mayor: I just read with horror of the city’s plans to put benches on the sidewalk outside my corner restaurant. I really must protest as this will allow people […]

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Restoring the Street Grid

Austin is adding nine new streets to their downtown, restoring the street grid and fixing what is called a “transportation dead zone.” According to the Austin American Statesman: (Director of the Downtown Austin Alliance Charlie) Betts noted that adding streets reverses what has been a sporadic trend of the downtown grid losing pieces of streets over […]

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The End of McMansions?

Time Magazine had an interesting piece on how the era of the McMansions, houses that top out at over 3,000 square feet, may be ending. It seems that “from 1950 to 2004, the average size of an American home jumped from from 983 square feet to 2,349 square feet.”  Now this number is finally dropping. In […]

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Thinking Ahead

When the University of Missouri installed new street signs emblazoned with the school mascot, my first thought was how long it would be until these signs were decorating dorm rooms. Sure enough, signs began disappearing almost immediately. In Columbia alone, $35,000 of signs are stolen every year, largely due to poorly chosen names street names such […]

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Make Your Own Street

I just discovered Streetmix, a nifty online app where you build your own street. I put a lot of thought into my street–making sure there were dedicated bus lanes, bikes lanes, and lanes that cars and bikes could share. Sidewalks were wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side and there was plenty of room […]

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In My Backyard

Matthew Yglesias has another smart column in Slate (it’s refreshing to see someone bring free market theories to bear on progressive issues). In the past, he’s offered opinions on everything from using congestion pricing to promote public transit and eliminating building height restrictions to increase economic vitality. This time around, he’s tackling a subject near and dear to […]

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