working the street

"...our streets are being managed almost entirely for traffic flow, with neighborhoods and business districts buckling under increasing amounts of dangerous car and truck traffic. If we continue planning our streets for cars and traffic, we will get more cars and traffic; conversely, if we start planning our cities for people and places, we will get more people and places."

Quick, the above paragraph describes what city? Manila? L.A? Atlanta? -Wrong. It describes New York City. It's a quote from a campaign to re-imagine NYC streets. The New York City Streets Renaissance is a coalition campaigning for a redesign of NYC streets. They want to make the streets more livable -more oriented to the pedestrian.

Their goals:
  • Educate New Yorkers about potential transportation policy changes that will improve quality of life across New York City
  • Promote a rebalancing of this public space away from private vehicles and toward community needs
  • Demonstrate the widespread public support for reform on these issues
  • Tap the potential of New Yorkers to re-imagine their own streets
They also list down the characteristics of great streets:

Access & Linkages
  1. Easy to cross the street
  2. Sidewalks accommodate pedestrians and activity comfortably
  3. Multiple transportation options
Uses & Activities
  1. There are reasons to linger
  2. Ground floors are welcoming to passers-by
  3. Mix of resturants, stores and services
Comfort & Image
  1. Local and cultural identity is reflected
  2. Good seating, lighting, trees and other amenities
  3. Clear signage with local information
  1. People are inclined to gather
  2. Sense of pride and ownership
  3. Presence of children and seniors
Anyone up to forming a similar organization for Metro Manila?


Anonymous said...

you are full of ... wow.. are you a politician ?

Urbano dela Cruz said...

full of what my anonymous friend?

wysgal said...

In the Philippines the difficulty of converting current car-riders to pedestrians would be overcoming the heat ... I generally don't mind walking in the Makati CBD but most others would prefer to take a 30-minute cab ride for a distance more easily covered by a 5-minute walk.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


In some ways, I agree that the general climate in our latitude discourages walking. on the other hand, we don't design our streetscapes to be friendly to pedestrians either.

our first target would be the 5-minute walk in the CBDs or the 5 minute radius from MRT and LRT stations.

streetscapes can be designed to improve the microclimate. i.e.-a canopy from shady trees, building awnings, greenery in front of buildings contribute to lowering the temperature at ground level by as much as 5 degrees.

if you've ever walked around the UP Diliman cCampus, or the Ateneo campus - even on a summer's day, the trees bring breezes and the greens generally absorb most of the heat.

On a more ambitious note, we can consider policies that require green roofs for office and government buildings. Check out what Chicago is trying to do

Ivan ManDy said...


Theyre doing that in NYC?? And I thought the Big Apple was one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in North America...woe is Manila!

Here in MM, the street is something be feared. And loathed. For a generation now, people have turned their backs against the street and shuttered themselves inside their self-imposed cocoons. Can't really blame them.

In Singapore, they battled their heat disadvantage by turning their city green. In Manila, we plant tree boxes, yes, but oversized ones leaving the pedestrians walking on the streets.

And I hate it when Im told that I cannot jog (SM vicinity) in the morning or have my bags frisked 'for security'(Mendiola in San Miguel district). And on a street too.

Metro Manileño's need to reconnect with her streets once more.

Ever wondered why I became a 'street walker'? ;op

Urbano dela Cruz said...


"the street is something be feared. And loathed"

that's not unique to Manila. In the US, the response was to accomodate more traffic by widening roads or tearing down whole neighborhoods -which was what got Jane Jacobs started on her critique.

We couldn't tear down old neighborhoods (unless they were "slums") -so instead we took out the sidewalks.

Then, some 'enlightened' clean-and-greeners (mostly car-owning upper and middle-class pols) decided that we need "landscaping" (i.e. token trees -mostly for decoration) so they did what they do in their homes -put the trees in planters.

I lived in the Zobel-Roxas area for a while -beautiful neighborhood, but the sidewalks were oppressive and the streets were re-worked to benefit the traffic from La Salle.

Check out what other people are doing to reclaim the streets.

Maybe your street walking tours are a good way of making street activists out of people. (If you'll kindly point to the condition of our sidewalks while you're at it.)

Ivan ManDy said...

Of yes, there's always a critique or two about our urban landscape during the walks. Where but in Ongpin can you find 3 different kinds of lamp posts, each built by a seperate government entity- the baranggay, city government and Pagcor respectively?

Hay naku.

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