SEPTA’s Top 10 Bus Routes
Our friends at MOTU (Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities) created this very attractive infographic about SEPTA’s 10 busiest bus routes as part of their ongoing Tidbit Tuesday series (if you don’t read this already, check out their blog).
Anything strike you about this ranking? A few things stand out to us as nerdy planners:
1) 5 of the 10 lines do not pass through Center City. The 18, 52, 60, 26, and G never come anywhere close to the city’s highest concentration of jobs. This is not a criticism at all. It’s just a reminder for those of us whose professional lives do center on Center City that SEPTA’s system is not just about getting people in and out of the core. It used to be more so, as is evidenced by the spoke-like design of our rail system, but as land use patterns have changed, following preferences about where people work and live, buses have been able to respond as our most nimble mode of public transit. MORE
Trail Master Plan Update 2: FULL DRAFT Available for Comment!
At the beginning of the year, we shared a map and some initial thoughts from our forthcoming Trail Master Plan. We’ve been getting questions about it for awhile, and so today, we’re pleased to announce that a complete draft plan is available for your review!
What can you expect to find within its pages? The meat and potatoes of the plan is an inventory of trail projects, organized by geographic location and/or current construction status:
1. Watershed Park Trails
2. Schuylkill River Trail
3. Delaware River Trail
4. Sidepaths/Roadway Adjacent
6. Completed or Under Construction
Within this structure, every trail project is numbered. This number is a score based on an extensive list of factors that you can read all about in the plan itself. Why score and rank trail projects? To help ourselves – we’re speaking as “The City”, broadly speaking here – understand how best to support different projects as they progress and seek funding from a variety of sources.
We’re eager for feedback on the plan, which you can leave in the comments section below, hit us up on Facebook or Twitter, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Happy reading!
Planning Haiku…cause it’s been awhile
Planning Under Attack
Forbes hates comp planning
Do you think they’re right?
Canal Street project
5 hour hearing this week
Decision yet to be made
New York launches soon
Who should sponsor ours?
Top Down, Bottom Up…or something in between?
Those who have some understanding of (or personal experience with) the history of urban planning in this country from the last 50 or so years know that we’ve seen the paradigm shift from one of “expert-driven” or “top-down” planning – most often personified by Robert Moses, the New York City change agent who thought nothing of ripping neighborhoods apart for the sake of transformative infrastructure projects. In response to this came Jane Jacobs, a Greenwich Village Denizen whose treatise on cities, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” became something of a bible for folks who recognized the need for a less heavy-handed approach to urban revitalization. Her writings helped articulate many of the planning principles that practitioners still preach today – eyes on the street, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods – and ushered in an era wherein the next Robert Moses could not so easily decide to bulldoze a city landscape without consulting the public.
To talk about planning as a simple question of Moses v Jacobs is a dangerous proposition. If an overarching goal of planning is to guide decision-making to produce healthy, accessible, functional, successful cities that serve the needs of their residents, then it’s obvious that neither way of thinking has led to total success. Granted, physical planning is not the sole solution to endemic problems of poverty, crime, segregation, disinvestment, and education, but it is a piece of the puzzle, and thus far, one cannot say that the Moses or Jacobs approach has produced the ideal outcome that we’d like to think we collectively share. One could, of course, debate the relative merits of top down and bottom up for a very long time, but we’re not here to do that.
We’re here to say that you should read this piece from the Place Makers website that brings up an important point so often forgotten: a 180-degree shift in the way we approach an entire field/practice/civic exercise is not the way to go. To say that “experts” got it wrong and they should move aside and let communities manage their own destinies, regardless of what data, knowledge, or powers they may or may not possess is no more likely to build the cities we want than when we entrusted all of the decision-making power to lone individuals or autonomous agencies. What we all need to succeed is something in the middle. In case you don’t have time, here’s the best part:
“Expertise is just a tool to be leveraged… And if your community wants safer streets for walking and cycling, or a new park, or some walkable businesses nearby, or aging-in-place solutions embedded in the neighborhood, it’s equally key to seek out whatever expertise you lack — those skilled in transportation or landscape design, commercial development, neighborhood planning or zoning reform — necessary to empower the effort. Not at the expense of citizens but in partnership with them. Not exclusively top-down or bottom up, but both. Such an approach is not disempowering. It’s liberating, because it allows communities to focus on their own expertise — their wants, needs and concerns — while still leveraging the tools necessary for meaningful implementation. Those who believed that top-down planning would save us were wrong. But doing an about-face exclusively in favor of bottom-up — in effect, another 180-degree course correction — is no better.It’s just deja vu all over again.”
Cultureblocks: our latest data obsession
Did everyone enjoy Philly Tech Week? Are you impressed with Philadelphia’s leadership in open data? If so, then you’ll love Cultureblocks!
This had not been on our radar screen until recently. Essentially, Cultureblocks maps our creative economy: arts organizations, grant recipients, etc. What makes it even more interesting to us planners is that it also allows you to overlay that arts information with other indicators, like demographics, or even zoning! This free tool has the potential to help all different types of organizations understand opportunities for investment and to start to understand trends in terms of where the creative economy is and where it’s going.
Check it out, and tell us what you think!