The (Block-by-Block) Fight for a More Just and Livable American Street

Authors: David Prytherch*, Miami University
Topics: Transportation Geography, Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: mobilities, transport geographies, social justice, planning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Blue Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores the struggle for a more equitable and welcoming American street. Drawing from wide-ranging debates on the politics of mobility -- in transport geography and mobilities studies – it approaches streets as infrastructure for movement and social space integral to the right to the city. Articulating a “right to the street” in terms of mobility equity and livability, it explores ongoing struggles for a more just streets through policy, infrastructure engineering, and on-the-ground protest. First, it begins with broad national movements to promote Complete Streets policies and transform how streets are planned and engineered, as well as innovative efforts to remake streets safer through Vision Zero planning. Second, it focuses on physical transformation of street spaces through freeway removal, retrofitting of vehicular corridors for Bus Rapid Transit, creative place making, and green alleys. Third, it concludes with more ephemeral but symbolically-powerful efforts to take over streets through critical mass rides, 'ghost-bike' memorials, and the transformation of parking spots into pop-up parks. This paper highlights how intensely local fights over public roadways reflect the broad redefinition of the American street as social space of mobility equity, livability, and justice.

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