READING - A Citizen's Guide to Better Streets

Project for Public Spaces LogoWe strongly believe that now is the time to focus on changing the way that transportation planning is being conducted! Not only does every community have a network of roads and streets, but people in just about every community we have worked with for the last 34 years, have experienced problems related to their streets—parents feeling that their children can not walk or bike safely to school, older adults becoming housebound and lonely when they no longer drive, obesity rates rising because people have fewer places to walk—these are all reasons why we need to influence the ways that decisions about roads are made.

We need a new way of planning our cities that is different from the way it has been done over the last 50 years - a way that uses transportation as a way of supporting positive community development. And because transportation agencies almost always possess the largest public works budgets of any government agency they are potentially the most influential shapers of the American landscape and potential partners in creating better streets that result in more livable and walkable communities.

One of the main obstacles to change is that the transportation establishment has organized itself into a well structured, disciplined and cohesive profession, dedicated to delivering on its perceived mandate to provide Americans with a system of high speed and supposedly safe roads. The industry has managed to influence two generations of planners, politicians, developers, people in construction industries, special interest groups, and the public itself about how planning should be done to achieve these goals. There is a language and terminology, funding mechanisms, curriculum at universities, carefully articulated values and policies that have been institutionalized at a scale that has rarely been matched by any other industry.

On the other hand, Project for Public Spaces (PPS) has found, in our work with communities across the country, a passion by people everywhere for participating in making their communities more livable. The goal of this Citizens Guide is to help individual citizens, including volunteers from organizations, influence transportation decisions to improve communities – to create great streets and great communities! (Quoted from the document foreward)


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