News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rails-with-trails

Flagpole's Athens Rising column explores informal uses of urban space and how "the way people use the city doesn’t necessarily correspond with the planning and design intentions of the government."

W
hen families and otherwise “adult” people join the exploring kids as benign trespassers, this may be a symptom of some larger issue in the built environment. Rather than working to eliminate these symptoms, we ought to understand their underlying causes. The guerrilla SPOA (Skate Park of Athens) illustrated a need, which ultimately resulted in a sanctioned skate park being built at the Southeast Clarke Park. The High Line, in New York, is another example of informal park uses taking on a formal status.
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The spaces that people choose to occupy with these informal uses are ones that have been disregarded or left undefined in some way.
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Consider the folks who walk along the railroad tracks. The rail right-of-way provides a useable route between destinations. People who walk along the tracks are interested in the route, and not the rails themselves. Building a formal walking path with a fence between it and the tracks gives people a safer alternative than walking on the rails in the same way that a sidewalk along a road is safer than people walking on the shoulder. This logic has been implemented in many communities around the country, leading to the creation of “rails-with-trails” (the logical outgrowth of the rails-to-trails movement).

That sort of logic should be applied to address the alternative ways people use the city in every case. People do things for reasons, and by understanding the causes of actions, we can build a city which is more interesting and more equitably accessible.

1 comment:

Greg said...

ex: Legalizing and maintaining the Dirt Loop