Some good reconnecting

Today’s review is of the work of the organisation Reconnecting America. It describes itself as follows:

“Reconnecting America is a national nonprofit that advises civic and community leaders on how to overcome community development challenges to create better communities for all. Reconnecting America develops research and innovative public policy, while also building on-the-ground partnerships and convening players needed to accelerate decision-making”.

They indeed do good work of great relevance, if like me, you are interested in where transport, land use and urban design meet. Their mission statement is:

“we help transform promising ideas into thriving communities, where transportation choices make it easy to get from place to place, where businesses flourish, and where people from all walks of life can afford to live, work and visit”.

I have followed their work over several years. I get their daily email called “The other side of the tracks” which rounds up “all the transit and TOD news that’s fit to print or blog”, on which editor Jeff Wood does a heroic job. It’s worth a scan every day, and there are always a few links worth following.

I first became aware of the organisation when chairing our Queensland State Government Transit Oriented Development Taskforce, who had a visit from a group including (now) Transportation Commissioner of New York City, Janette Sadik-Khan, who at that time was on their board and working at Parsons Brinkerhoff I think. I also visited their office in San Francisco a few years ago and meet with Jeff Wood and others.

As an example, here’s some quotes from a blog called Walkable Dallas Fort Worth I picked up from a link in their latest email:

“the cities that are world-renowned today for a variety of reasons, particularly livability plus economic activity like Vancouver, NYC, and Copenhagen began deprioritizing the car, car-dependence, and car-based infrastructure that coerces it back in the 1960’s in a variety of ways. CPH began removing parking lots and converting streets to pedestrian ways. YVR never allowed freeways, as they had a plan which looked much like Moses’s to criss-cross downtown island with freeways (which incidentally would have half the car capacity of the current YVR downtown street grid). And NYC had little old Jane Jacobs.”
“I specifically mention a variety of cities with a variety of unique aspects and densities because I’m not saying Dallas should be like New York. I’m merely using this as an example to show that the world doesn’t end without high-speed cut-through traffic. It will actually get a whole lot brighter. No, it won’t be New York. Instead, it is the grid that will allow the coming together of Dallas citizens to exchange ideas, goods, services, laughs, and love, that allows Dallas to be the best Dallas that it wants to be. That it can be.”
“Nobody today takes Robert Moses’s side vs. Jane Jacobs in the fight to build cross-town highways through Manhattan. Why? Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of history. Well, maybe a few. But without vision, it’s far easier to take the side of status quo, inertia, and fear of change. I prefer roads less traveled.”

You can follow Reconnecting America on most social media, includingTwitter (@reconnecting), by liking their Facebook page, or on LinkedIn.

I use and recommend it.


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