Blog Post

What's new in the streets

Though I've spent a fair amount of time either in my office or huddled around my laptop at home of late, helping out with the DML Competition, I have been reading a bit about what's going on IRL. Recent notes from the streets:

Streetsblog, a project of the Open Planning Project that seeks to re-focus policy and planning in New York toward pedestrians and bicyclists, had a great entry about the city's efforts to keep kids safe while using those streets, called Safety City. I reblog a bit of it here:

"An educational program for school children that combines classroominstruction with outdoor lessons on simulated life-sized streetscapes,six Safety City campuses are located throughout the boroughs.

"Negotiating West Harlem's narrow sidewalks, active road construction sites, and crosswalksignals so short that adult classroom volunteers had to block autotraffic with their bodies as kids scrambled across the street [emphasis in original],a group of third graders made its way to the W. 158th Street SafetyCity last spring for a day of so-called 'hands-on experience.'

...

"The children were directed to memorize a chant, to be recited mentallyat every corner: 'Stop, look and listen. Make a safe decision.' Thesloganeering was reinforced by the 'Safety City Rap,' a repetitive 'Barney'-esque video that seemed to serve mostly as a lunchtimebabysitting tool. Not once during the day were students told of the rightfulplace of pedestrians in the urban environment, and not once was autotraffic depicted as anything other than an uncontrollable force ofnature. [emphasis in original] The class eventually moved outside to the fenced Safety Citystreetscape, where every sidewalk was clear of obstructions, everycrosswalk was freshly painted, every pedestrian signal workedperfectly, and no speeding vehicles could be found."

You can read the full entry here. I can't help but wonder whether it would be more effective, as a commenter there suggested, for the state of New York (and all others too; I wouldn't want to be a kid walking around in NC either!) to require licensed drivers to take "pedestrian awareness" of some sort. Safety City really sends the message to kids that it's their responsibility to navigate streets, even though drivers are the ones responsible for many of the incidents that Streetsblog reports each week. Oh well.

In happier urban exploration news, here's an unusual find, from some photographers exploring Los Angeles: a dumpster full of fortune cookies.

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