Over the last 30 to 40 years, a tectonic shift has occurred in the way Americans think about urban transportation networks, especially the streets and roads that are their backbone. After decades of designing streets as low-grade highways designed to move cars as quickly as practicable, officials in a growing list of cities across the U.S. have changed course and implemented policies and design standards that emphasize the movement of people, not just cars. Bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, ciclovias and more have proven popular where implemented, delivered significant public benefits, and generated momentum for further changes that reclaim city streets for everyone’s use.
These officials couldn’t have done what they did without support from above — the citizens to whom they report and who advocate for change — and below — the city transportation officials charged with developing the policies and strategies for their implementation and the public works bureaucracies whose job it is to do the implementing.
A report released by TransitCenter, a research and advocacy organization devoted to promoting urban vitality through better transit and transportation options, documents the role all three groups play in producing innovative urban mobility systems.
“A People’s History of Recent Urban Transportation Innovations” looks at how the virtuous cycle of innovation works by examining the role all of the actors played in six cities: Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, New York, Pittsburgh and Portland.
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