Trend Watch April 2024

Guerilla urbanism “asking forgiveness, not permission”

A grassroots movement known as ‘guerilla urbanism’ is emerging in the US, where community groups bypass bureaucracy with innovative improvements to the urban spaces they care about. Their mantra is ‘ask forgiveness, not permission.’ 

The guerilla urbanism movement was the focus of a recent webinar hosted by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) – ‘On the Park Bench: Guerilla Urbanism.’

Robert Steuteville from the CNU writes, “From toilet plungers for bike lanes to community gardens on vacant lots to locally sourced incremental development, citizens are finding creative ways to make urban space.”

During the webinar, small developer, Jason Hyman talks about a not for profit organisation in Houston D3tM, or Do the Things That Matter, guerilla urbanism that ‘disrupts’ existing systems to create change. They’ve been working on ‘disrupting’ the gentrification of Texas and bypassing the ‘traditional systems’ to create affordable housing for everyone. They take turns teaching each other, assisting with capital and sharing wisdom.

Planner for Houston, Margaret Brown, talks about taking a practical approach to creating better roads, noting the group, ‘Crosswalk Collective’ who paint their own crosswalks with yellow and white paint.

Each speaker encourages everyone to get involved in Guerilla Urbanism. Hyman said, “Be vocal. Get involved. Take action.”

Brown said, “Come and talk with us, be vocal.”  

Read more and view the webinar on the CNU Journal, Public Square.

Photo: Margaret Brown at a Houston community garden, screenshot from the CNU webinar.

Could seating be the secret to boosting active travel?

The UK Walking and Cycling Index, a biennial study by Sustrans last published in 2023, offers research for understanding city centre active travel trends and how to better support walking, wheeling and cycling.

The People and Places Partnership, publisher of guides for LGAs on revitalising town centres, writes that “the most popular change to encourage residents to walk more is to create nicer places along streets to rest” – with benches, trees and shelters.

To encourage walking and wheeling, resting spots were found to be even more important to respondants than better pavement accessibility such as level surfaces and dropped kerbs, and than more frequent and quicker road crossings, they write.

Sixty percent of respondants agreed that increasing space for people socialising, walking and cycling on their local high street would improve their local area.

The partnership’s article also highlights key data around opportunities to increase the role of cycling in cities, trends around balancing modes of travel, and changes found by the Sustrans study over time. Read the full article.

Photo by Jorgen Larsen on Unsplash

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