Contested Streets: Cars, Community, and Urban Planning

A thought-provoking documentary on cars and community, traffic congestion and productivity, using New York City as an example, and contrasting it with public transportation and pedestrian-oriented city planning in some European cities such as Copenhagen: Contested Streets. Would be interesting to look at Los Angeles of course, (also see Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which was all about a real-life alleged automobile industry conspiracy to shut down public transportation in favor of automobiles in Los Angeles and perhaps even nationwide in the mid-20th century, see the General Motors streetcar conspiracy).

CONTESTED STREETS explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to the present. This examination allows for an understanding of how the city – though the most well served by mass transit in the United States – has slowly relinquished what was a rich, multi-dimensional conception of the street as public space to a mindset that prioritizes the rapid movement of cars and trucks over all other functions.
Central to the story is a comparison of New York to what is experienced in London, Paris and Copenhagen. Interviews and footage shot in these cities showcase how limiting automobile use in recent years has improved air quality, minimized noise pollution and enriched commercial, recreational and community interaction.

Also see:

Kind of ironic right after a post about learning to drive stick, of course.


Food Deserts, and the documentary “Unnatural Causes…is inequality making us sick?”

An unfortunate cycle: some people get to live in neighborhoods with health food stores, Whole Foods, Trader Joes. People living in lower income neighborhoods might live in neighborhoods where there are no supermarkets at all, only fast food restaurants and liquor stores…increasing the likelihood of poor nutrition and diets, hypertension, diabetes, which may negatively affect educational and job performance and prospects, social mobility, etc. The concept is called Food Deserts:

Residents do without in America’s ‘food deserts’

Wikipedia: Food Deserts

Bread & booze; For too many Chicagoans the nearest grocer is a liquor store

What are any solutions? Changing zoning laws, tax incentives for grocery stores to move in to lower income areas, better public transportation? Reinstatement of home economic classes to teach about nutrition, higher sin taxes on fast food and liquor?

Also see the documentary as aired on PBS: Unnatural Causes …is inequality making us sick?