Bike Summit: Complete Steets I (and a rant about gentrification)

Before I go on, I want to link to an article which is unrelated to this post, Excuses for Not Cycling.

On to regularly scheduled post:

This was a very well attended meeting. The goal was for us to discuss complete streets.

The agenda was: figure out our goal, increase cycling, tally up pluses and minuses, find allies and opponants, and finally determine some tactics.

As per the normal tradition, by the time most of you hear this you’ll have to realize that the cool kids have moved on.

Sure Complete Streets are cool, but the avante guard among us is now talking about Complete Communities. 🙂

At the beginning of the talk, I asked a question about how to visualize complete streets. I thought it would be nice to see a map where we were coloring it all in so I could track progress.

I was told that Complete Streets isn’t so much about building a network as it is a process on a case by case basis. Thus a street can become more and more “Complete”.

During the meeting, I found that the Long Beach reps were super-helpful because they all ready had a success story to share. Long Beach is giving the rest of the state something to go after, a target.

Next, we identified allies which were business improvement districts, home owner associations, media, and enlightened engineers.

I found this interesting as it brings up that dreaded term “gentrification”.

Ug, how I hate that word because it’s such a hot button issue, but unlike other hot button issues, it’s so vague.

I mean, we all know what a gun and an abortion is, but what’s a gentrification?

Making things better in poor areas. And why is that bad? What’s the opposite of this? Slumification. And that’s good? We need poor people to live in slums?

But we need to have places for poor people to live.

So build them all ready and make them nice. I had very little money for years, and I did not want to live in a shit hole.

Talk with any poor person and ask her what her problems are. You can go for hours and never hear about gentrification.

Why?

Because poor people want to live in nice places.

In fact, I bet one of her long term goals is to get enough money together to get the fuck out of her slum and to move into a nice GENTRIFIED area.

In fact, instead of worrying about keeping slums as slums how about focusing on getting more money to poor people so that they can pay higher rents?

What I am saying is that among all the poor person’s problems living in a nicer place is the goal NOT a problem.

While I’m ranting, I’m sick of how people use the words like “slum” for non-white areas, only. A neighborhood can have low crime and have a strong community, but if it’s non-white, it will be called a slum.

Then you will have old white dudes coming in to tell the government that they shouldn’t do anything to fix the place up because rent will be too high.

I suggest a better alternative is to make the areas nicer and to help the people who live there to stay. This will make an even stronger community.

Also, it’s helpful not to think in terms of “nice areas” and “slums” but to travel freely to all parts of town. The whole notion of a slum is a creation of the human mind, first, and it’s reinforced by people’s prejudices.

So if a standard is good for one area, a “nice one” then it should also apply to another area no matter who lives there.

Have a nice day.

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