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Cities From Cars
Revised June 3, 2012
New City Logo
Start with this: The Logo. Each City has one. Most could be better.
So, let’s see. What is a city about? Commerce? Sure. But there is
little commerce without people. So really the city is about people.
Let’s reﬂect that in the logo. People. They live, move and love.
Let’s make sure they can do that. Check.
Streets Are For People!
OK. There is a city and there are people. They move around and
shop now and then. But they’re are social beings too. They eat,
talk, have fun and like to be entertained. They also like to be in
the street. Good. Hmm. 40% of the city is dedicated to automobile
use. Well, that’s easily ﬁxed.
De-pave & Add Colour
Since the city likes smooth pavement because cars use it so much
it’s easy to just pave, well, everything. But who really likes hard
gray surfaces? Human beings and ﬂowers do not. And in the end
they matter more. So, let’s replace gray with colour and sweet
soil. Better, isn’t it?
Compost Your Car
Since they tell us all to buy cars and more cars all the time, there
are so many, many cars. Too many in fact. Oh, what shall we do
with them once they break down? We can crush and recycle them.
OK. That’s it, though? How about we take one or two or a hundred
and make a garden? A hundred gardens. Easy as one, two, three!
And that parking spot, well. It was poorly used space anyways.
Now it is a piece of art and a very popular & beautiful tourist
attraction. (The Most Photographed Car in Toronto.)
DIY Urbanism - Fix It
You can ﬁx the city. Yes, you can. It’s not so hard. Look at the
corner where thousand of cyclists ride by everyday and ask:
“How can it be better?” Cyclists need space to prevent cars from
squeezing them in and hurting them when they turn right.
Solution: A Bike Box. Cost: less that $100. Services Donated Free.
Car Culture vs Creativity
Car culture is about ‘divide and conquer’ alienating us as
individuals, sabotaging practical democracy, while creative use of
public space helps to unite communities, creating dialogue,
Use What You Got
Some countries are blessed with sun, sun, sun. Some get snow,
snow, snow. Use both to make your city a better place. Got lots of
spare stuff? Make a playground. Senior needs a seat at the bus
stop? Voila! Design: Urban Shovel Ensemble.
Bike Lanes Are Love
Bike Lanes are a good thing. A very good thing. They breed more
cyclists like rabbits. They show you care about what the car
companies on TV do not care about you. Ever see a commercial for
a new bike lane? Well, you can change that. OK. The city planners
may get upset about it. But that’s okay. You ﬁx. No Charge.
Good Design For All Ages
1% of children ride a bicycle to school in North America. In the
Netherlands the rate is over %40. Recently in the US, 40 students
were suspended for riding their bicycles to school in a group. Got
it? Good. Next topic. Design: Urban Repair Squad.
Road Design By Children
If it does not work for an 8 year old, it’s a failure. True enough. So,
let’s allow children to design the road. They could not do worse
than what professional adults come up with. In fact, we’d bet it
could be better and more fun. Design: Urban Repair Squad.
No Wrong Way
They will tell you this street is a one way. OK. We both know
that’s not true. A bicycle will go both ways no matter what. So
will a pedestrian. It’s human nature. Bicycles always go the
shortest route. OK. Let’s not pretend and make the change. It’s
not that hard. ‘No wrong way on a one way.’ Design: Urban Repair
Pedestrians Not Cars
During the week this space would be full of cars. All day, every
day. But what would you rather see? A child in love with a soap
bubble or a Minivan? Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market
are the ﬁrst step in making this market street a place for families
and children. Next step: Add Saturdays, etc. Radical in North
America, yes, old old news in Europe. Design: P.S. Kensington.
All Rides Belong
A tall bike, mountain bike, BMX, Longboard, whatever. Just ride.
Ride. ride. They all belong. Critical Mass started it all in SF. An
‘organized coincidence’ as in ‘We Are Trafﬁc’. Well, you are
trafﬁc. All of you. The laws are old and stale. You belong. It’s your
civil right. Design: The Winking Circle.
Use Popular Culture
Humour, a classic staple of popular culture, communicates better
than most forms of communication. Use it. Sure, you can call the
city but, hey, ‘results may vary’. But, in the meantime, the road
stays a dangerous place for bicycles and pedestrians. Design:
Urban Repair Squad.
No bike lane? Ask them why. And don’t take no for an answer.
Design: Urban Repair Squad.
New Plazas Now
In towns and cities where the car is king, most people are quite
uneasy about being in the street. Understandable. The streets are
a noisy, aggressive and sometimes scary place. Let’s change that.
Let’s make it inviting and comfortable to be on the street and in
the city. The more folks use the street the safer and better a place
it will be.
Celebrate The Alternative
Celebrate. Every year take a new part of the city: an intersection,
a cul de sac, a busy corner and have a party. Make a square, a
piazza, a plaza. A people’s place. Celebrate history. Creat new
history. Black Out Anniversary Party 2010. Design: The Public
The End of The Tunnel
There is light at the end of the tunnel. And change is a positive
force. Often one cannot see the change needed. Ask your children
and artists to paint what they see on a wall. Ask them to paint
how they see the city they live in. Design: Urban Repair Squad &
Camina Haz Ciudad
Rinse and Repeat
Found something that people love? Repeat it. Fix it. Love it.
Improve it. Garden Car 2012. The second one. Design: P.S.
Running On Empty
It’s a ﬁnite planet. Oil is not a renewable resource. If the Oil Crisis
of 1973 taught us anything, it’s that ‘Empty’ is a word we still
have not learned to take seriously. OK. Let’s talk. Streets are for
picnics. Design: Streets Are For People!
Transform and Imagine
City space is precious. What shall we do with it? A tree, space to
play, a garden? Nope. Car parking. Fine. Let’s also park this then:
A soccer ball, a bicycle pump, and some art supplies. Throw some
money into the parking meter. Pitch a tent and read a book.
Parking is a park. Design: Streets Are For People!
In the future, there will be less to buy. It’s inevitable. But what
can we do with the shopping carts? Answer: they become art
objects. Design: Artist Unknown.
Play Games Here
The right to play. It’s a human right. Every child, every adult,
every senior has the right to play. Wherever, whenever. Why not?
Scrabble anyone? Design: Streets Are For People!
Safety Through Art
Water is life. Its ﬂow is beauty and wonder. Let’s bring the river
long paved over back to life and show its beauty to all. A river
runs through this park where seniors, cyclists and lovers stroll. It
can protect you. Until we unbury it, it can help keep us safe.
Design: Urban Repair Squad.
You Did Good
People are good. They care. Children and mothers especially so.
They should make the decisions. Ask the elders too. They
understand. Don’t ask the politicians. They have too much to lose.
The Human City
Cities are human. Most streets are inhuman. More people have
been killed on our roads than during the WWI and WWII
combined. We don’t ask why. We just accept this as the way of the
world. It’s built into the system that we have built for ourselves.
Or have we? Design: Urban Repair Squad.
Do It Yourself
In the end, you make the
change you want. No one
else will do it for you.
In June 2008, Critical Mass with 250 joyful cyclists took the
Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto.
The City as possibility.
A First Step
‘Slow Down’ Humanist Trafﬁc Calming Stencil
Design: Urban Repair Squad