This past week, my program Girls in Gear moved into Urban Design, something I am very passionate about. Opening up people’s eyes at how our streets have been designed and how they can be so much more.
These girls, like the majority of our citizens have only viewed streets for one purpose – to get cars from point A to point B. Next time you take a walk, be conscious of if you even have sidewalks to walk on. So many of our neighborhoods especially the lower income neighborhoods, sidewalks have been eradicated to make more room for travel lanes.
Opening up these girls eyes and minds showing them how much more a street can be is critical. They should know that they deserve simple infrastructure such as a sidewalk when walking to school. They shouldn’t be ‘immune’ to gun-shells and used syringes in their playgrounds. The design of a neighborhood creates the tone in how a community will use that neighborhood. If you’re neighborhood is destroyed by four lane wide streets with cars moving at 4o mph, chances are there will be very little social interactions and enjoyment on these streets.
Aside from the aesthetics of a street, the people behind the scenes creating these streets are predominantly men. I want these girls to know and believe that if they want to become planners, architects, or engineers when they grow up, they have just as good of a chance as men. Have you ever stepped outside your house and taken a walk or a bike ride and stopped to collect the way that you ‘feel’ on a particular street? Do you feel safe? Intimidated? Is the street pleasant to be on? Is it soft with textures of trees, lights, benches, few travel lanes,gardens, etc. or is cold and isolated with a slab of concrete serving one purpose – to get you to your destination?
The majority of our streets have been designed by men. Imagine what our streets would look and feel like if the majority of them were designed by women? The majority of our streets built today are not women and children friendly in my opinion. This is one of the reasons I’m introducing Urban Design to these young girls. When a street is designed with women and children in mind, everyone will feel safer experiencing that street.
Enjoy the pics.
Be safe and keep riding.
Took the girls on a walk audit to score two streets.
Group discussion as we wait to cross the street.
The girls discussing what they saw and felt on the two streets we scored.
Abby Downs discussing streets more than just places for cars.
The girls beginning their designs of their ideal bikeable / walkable streets.