Category Archives: US

The death and live of great American cities

The death and live of great American cities is a book by Jane Jacobs. Although it was written in 1961, most of their insights still remain live today.

In the first part, she claims the necessity of maintaining vivid sidewalks because of improving pedestrian health (both physical and psychological), security (for example if a robbery happens in a street with plenty of small stores, shopkeepers will identify and face the bad guy or call the police. Lack of sidewalks reduces people on street), human relationships promote, protection (against cars and bad people since the more eyes in street, the less probable somebody could be something inconvenient like parking a car on a sidewalk), more space to sidewalks means less space for cars, thus less noise, pollution and ultimately deaths, and the opportunity to practice sport when walking or running in contrast to moving by car.

Quietly related, we have confirmed the reduction in the number of small, local stores in neighbors which are being substituted by the same multinational stores you come across in many cities or tourist apartments in the last years. This is an error since less local stores means less community and trust. At the time Jane wrote her book, it was common practice to give her house keys to the fruit seller for relatives who used her house where she was on vacations as a result of trusting him. Few people do it nowadays and we tend to be more individual and distrustful about people. However, social movements and different groups try to revert it and would be beneficial to everybody.

Wide sidewalks allow children to play on them with the approval of parents since in such sidewalks there is plenty of space and lack of cars. Parents fear children playing on pavement precisely of these dangerous one-ton or more machines, not to mention the pollution they produce. Thus, the wider a sidewalk, the better to everybody.

Ron Werner

Ron Werner is a photographer who captured day-to-day common activities in New York, specifically in City Island. His family arrived to the USA by running away the nazis from his mother Austria. He opened a gallery called Focal Point Gallery to show his works at the beginning and finally he opened it to other artists, not only from the photo field but also from other artistic areas. Focal Point Gallery has evolved from an extremely large space, in which he also lived there, to a smaller one with impressive windows throughout which he used his camera in an efficiently way. Among all his photos, people with bikes emerge as icons. He affirms that he takes photos of bikers because it gives back memories when he was a boy and enjoyed pedaling.

Dangerous by design: Paintless crosswalks

Seattle, and most US cities, are full of paintless crosswalks.
You know they are crosswalks because there are ramps installed on the sidewalks with the typical dotted/yellow covers to help blind people.
However, drivers have a hard time seeing the ramp, not to mentioned if there are parked cars before the crosswalk, so painting that zebra crossing is vital if you intend drivers to stop when there are people crossing.
I have personally seen drivers honking the horn at pedestrians using paintless crosswalks, and a couple of almost accidents.
So please, US departments of transportation and urban planners, could we make sure pedestrians won’t be run over by cars by actually making crosswalks visible to drivers?, please.

From coast to coast

The dream of crossing the USA in bicycle from coast to coast is being built at the time I write this post. Just imagine a bike-friendly, secure, seamless path that connects the Indian and the Atlantic oceans. This is going to be possible soon thanks to The Great American Rail-Trail. This project aims for developing what was once a myriad of railroads which were abandoned long time ago. As I talked about  green paths, such infrastructures can be taken advantage of in order to give them a second life, and when it occurs with a clear intention of improving human lives it becomes even better off.

The Great American Rail-Trail plans traversing 12 states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland, plus the district of Columbia. Its vision continues with allowing bikers and pedestrians going down for more than 3,700 miles. Moreover, imagine the economic opportunities and benefits for the local communities along the route between Washington and Washington. More than 145 existing trails hosting route and more than 90 trail gaps are being reviving, the numbers make you dizzy. The Great American Rail-Trail can constitute a landmark in the cycle tourism  and bike development in the USA.

Who is behind The Great American Rail-Trail project? The NGO Rail-to-Trail Conservancy (RTC) started it back in 1986. It has set itself the task of developing a large net of paths along the country. The RTC has gathered public and private financial donations to carry it forward and giving the opportunity to 50 million people every year to enjoy their bicycles and forests, mountains, vast plains or local communities. Plain and gentle slope combine in the impressive paths so that whoever biker can pedal on them.

Paradoxically, the pandemic has made people use more and more bicycles and in turn The Great American Rail-Trail project has been increasingly supported since people is manifestly in promoting bike use.