Archive for March 11th, 2012

March 11, 2012

Two ideas for a sidewalk – Gowri

I found this video below on sidewalks. The guy in the video talks about what is a better sidewalk design.  He claims that placing trees between the traffic and the sidewalk, will increase feeling of safety amongst people and produce happy pedestrians. I found this interesting , since we had just discussed  how the curb produces a feeling of segregation of the cars, giving cars more importance and so on. We had also briefly looked at the Woonerf images, showing how a sidewalk without  a curb will encourage street side cafes, vendors and reduce the superiority of cars, often even slowing them down. However, this video claims that not only should we have a curb but have trees after the curb, which further separates the pedestrian from the traffic. Would this actually benefit or be detrimental in terms of encouraging usage of sidewalks? I feel that in terms of having vendors and people use the sidewalks more than just  a way of transportation , the Woonerf system is better. Think about how narrow sidewalks are already, if a row of trees were added, where would a street vendor set up shop? However , maybe the method demonstrated in this video might work for certain streets or specific contexts, for e.g if there is a street where the curb doesn’t exist but there isn’t enough activity to slow down traffic, then maybe setting up a sidewalk such as this one will help people feel safer from the speeding cars? What do you guys feel about this?

March 11, 2012

Street Vending as a Way to Ease Joblessness- Zoe

Check out this article:

March 11, 2012

Response to: Food Delivery Workers- Jean

The article gives privileged readers a glimpse into the life of a marginalized person in the US. The two main areas that I want to focus on are: The appeal of the uncertainty of their jobs to the public eye, and what that means in relation to citizenship.

In the previous class, we talked about street vendors and how they enhanced the experience of a city. In the same vein, many food delivery workers help to make living in a city easier. We often take food delivery workers from granted, but Singer certainly attempts to change that. He carefully crafts his story, writing about the daily struggles of Mr. Lin, the food delivery worker that Singer follows. Mr. Lin has to work tirelessly from the time he clocks in, gets small tips, faces criticism from residents in the area he works in, and puts up with New York City’s traffic on a motorbike. Mr. Lin has been working as a food delivery worker at a Chinese restaurant for a year, the longest he has ever held on to a single job. Mr. Lin, as Singer describes, is a victim of circumstance, and as Singer knows, the public always likes a good story about a victim of circumstance. The appeal of the underdog is in and of itself, both a fascinating and beautiful aspect of American culture. When I first came to the US, I was surprised by how many people cared about this idea of human rights (there is no such major in any university in Singapore), and how many “liberals” fought for those who were marginalized in society. The class we had on street vendors was an excellent case in point about what I am talking about. Moreover, while I know that the number of people who are willing to support the rights of street vendors and food delivery workers is small in relation to the rest of the country, America has a stronger spirit of compassion than anywhere else I have ever been to.

However, all that being said, it is important to think about the impact of such passion on citizenship. In the last few paragraphs in the article, Singer writes about how happy Mr. Lin was to get a green card, and ends his article there. However, that issue is also fascinating. Mr. Lin, a victim of circumstance, was forced to come to America to find work, and even though he now has a green card, does this mean he calls America home? A green card means that he can stay and work in America for as long as he wants, but the key word there is: work. There is a fine line between those who want to be citizens and those who want to reap the benefits of being treated like a citizen. That boundary separating the two is complex, and I cannot wait to discuss it more in class tomorrow.

March 11, 2012

Recycled, Rubber Sidewalks! – Sorrel

In trying to find a topic to write about for this week’s blog post, I stumbled upon this urban planner’s blog post about sidewalks. While there are several standard sidewalk materials out there— concrete, of course, and brick— she notes that permeability and long term cost effectiveness also must be considered. Yeah yeah, okay, we’ve heard this before. But at the end of the post she mentions rubber sidewalks. In following her links and doing a little research, I found a bit out a bit about this intriguing option.

The first inspiration for this came in 2000, when Lindsay Smith was presented with urban tree cutting as the only option to save the sidewalks. She knew there must be another way, and Rubbersidewalks, Inc. was founded in 2005. It creates and installs sidewalks made entirely out of recycled materials. Unlike concrete, which cracks under the stress of tree growth, vibrations, or repeated frosts and thaws, Rubbersidewalks and “Terrewalks” are impervious to these elements. Although it is more expensive at installation, these sidewalks can stretch and grow with their environments and last many times longer than concrete’s maximum ten years and offer a new place for a portion of America’s 300 million discarded tires (american recycler article). Additionally, rubber sidewalks can be given permanent color and lend themselves more easily to becoming a positive part of any urban space.

While the company has yet to make it really huge— most cities have many varying laws and restrictions regarding their sidewalks— Smith acknowledges the importance of starting small, and I personally think that rubber/recycled sidewalks have a big future. In terms of the Fallkill creek’s degraded walls, I wonder if perhaps rubber sidewalks could replace the crumbling stone and concrete channels.

The website for Rubbersidewalks is here, and I urge you to poke around it for just five minutes! It has a nice interface and is quite informative and inspiring. NPR also has a short but wonderful and comprehensive (hi)story and review of the rubbersidewalks which is also really worth a listen.

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