New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Open the Streets

July 29, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

Cities Thrive by Going Footloose and Car-Free

by Jay Walljasper

Imagine diverting traffic from a major street in your neighborhood, then welcoming families on bikes, families on foot, babies in strollers, people in wheelchairs, toddlers on training wheels, grade schoolers on skateboards, teenagers on single-speeds, hipsters on fixed gears, grandparents on recumbents, couples arm-in-arm and even yoga classes in the middle of the road. What would happen?

If your neighborhood is anything like mine — which I am sure it is — get ready for a massive outbreak of smiles.

A few Sundays ago, Minneapolis debuted its first “Open Streets Ciclovia” by closing busy Lyndale Avenue for 2.3 miles south of downtown between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Despite relentlessly overcast skies, an estimated 5000-7000 people hit the street to walk, bike, look, talk, giggle, dance, eat, and thoroughly enjoy themselves. (more…)

Transforming City Life

July 06, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

Pedestrianizing Urban Space and Undoing the ‘Auto-cracy’

by Jay Walljasper

I am perplexed by the almost complete lack of pedestrian districts in North America.  Why is it that car-free streets — designed for pleasurable strolling, shopping, and hanging out — which have become as common as stoplights or McDonald’s in European city centers, are almost non-existent here?

I’ve only seen a few — a couple of blocks in downtown Boston, Rue Prince Arthur in Montreal, Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, and short stretches of downtown streets in college towns like Boulder, Ithaca, Iowa City, Charlottesville, and Burlington, Vermont.  (A glance at Wikipedia turns up a few more, although I notice many on the list, like the Nicollet Mall here in Minneapolis, are not truly car-free.) (more…)