Utne Reader visionary
Cars rule the streets and transportation planning is still geared toward accommodating them. The question is: Why? After all, the goal of urban planning, first and foremost, should be to serve people, not machines.
Founder and executive director of The Open Planning Project, Mark Gorton wants citizens to question the role of automobiles in the world and to recognize how inefficient and inappropriate they are for an urban environment. The organization’s Livable Streets Initiative hosts an online community featuring daily transportation-related news blogs, on-the-street films, and the opportunity to network with like-minded people.
Although it will take decades to reverse the current situation, developments like banning vehicles from stretches of Broadway near New York City’s Times Square and Herald Square provide hope that the movement can gain footing.
Zozo, a life-size purple mascot, was recently unveiled to serve as the Livable Streets movement’s Smokey Bear. The furry creature and its relatives purportedly disappeared with the advent of cars, but Zozo has reemerged in the wake of recent improvements to New York’s landscape. Gorton plans to take the mascot into classrooms and teach children about transportation choices, igniting an up-and-coming generation of advocates to take back their streets.
Get a personal tour of New York City’s new pedestrian areas from Mark Gorton, or check out any number of fascinating street films. Plus, the New York City Department of Transportation’s website offers more details on the “Green Light for Midtown” project, including before and after images. Plus, here’s a brand new project that was recently unveiled: a protected, center-median bike lane near the Manhattan Bridge! Finally, don’t miss this mockumentary chronicling the history and the return of the Zozo.
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