Stick around the rain cape business long enough and you learn a thing or two about desire lines. Also known as cow paths or social trails, they’re a universal indicator of preferred behavior. They mark the way people (and cows) interact with a space. It’s an instructive philosophy for designers of cities and rain capes.
Urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs was an advocate of arranging cities by desire lines. She championed a vigorous community-based approach to city planning. “There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them…that we must fit our plans,” she said.
A smart city encourages people to familiarize themselves with the places where they’re living, working and playing. Before you know it they’re walking more, riding bikes, taking the bus. The democratic approach to desire lines is to learn from them.
There are many ingredients that make a city nice and livable. We get a lot of insight from people in cities all over the world. But it’s been an education to see the profound effects of an equitable transportation network. A city that goes multimodal fosters diversity, local commerce, clean streets and open space.
Our data may be skewed, but that stuff appears to make people happier too. That’s in spite of the rain (or because of it?).
There are a lot of champions for mobility out there. Every community has them and they can all use our interest and support. There’s a lot to learn. That’s why we’re supporting the War on Cars. It’s a smart podcast that exposes the bad ideas and shares good ones.
Emanating from NYC, the three bright, inquisitive hosts consider car culture, mobility and the future of cities. Renown for their journalism, advocacy and leadership, Sarah Goodyear, Aaron Naparstek, and Doug Gordon make thinking fun again!
Let us know if you’re a fan of the War on Cars. If it’s all new to you this is a good place to start. You can get the War on Cars podcast at all the usual spots. We promise this isn’t policy talk — this is a wild romp! *
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