Saturday, March 20, 2010

Riverside: An Advanced Course

I'm writing on the train home from L.A. StreetSummit 2010, and I had a fantastic time, despite a serious Metrolink mishap on my way there. (I wasn't on the train involved, but the train I was on was delayed for two hours because of the crash. I cycled to the nearest Foothill Silver Streak stop and caught that into LA, just in time for some amazing street food.) I made a lot of contacts with folks, and hopefully we'll get Riverside plugged in to the larger livable streets movement soon enough. (Sirinya was introducing me around, and I felt a bit like a celebrity. Thanks!) One thing struck me, though, about some of the other attendees in the workshops I attended: whenever I asked a question about how to apply these lessons to Riverside, I felt like I was dismissed because I was from "the sprawl", that livable streets is a movement only for those who already live in large, dense cities.

Now, there are some places out there that are beyond salvation. Nobody's going to care about Hemet any time soon, nor is a movement for cycling likely to spring up in Alta Loma or Rancho Cucamonga. Hell, when I was caught in Covina it struck me how stunningly bad their transit and street amenities were, even compared to Riverside. But it is a mistake to dismiss everything in the IE as beyond help, as beyond saving. Riverside and San Bernardino were both cities in their own right before the sprawl subsumed them, and there is hope for both (though more for the former than the latter). Many of our elected officials out here get it, and are implementing the sort of reforms we want to see: Riverside has gotten on board with cycling in a big way, and San Bernardino is planning on making a vibrant transit village out of its bombed-out downtown mall. Claremont, while not *quite* IE, is definitely a suburb, and downtown Claremont has got a lot of livable streets things going on, including walkable, narrow streets and a BikeStation at the combined train station/transit centre. Hell, in Ryan Snyder's closing presentation today, where he had the slides of "dead streets" and "living streets", Riverside was featured in one of the slides... as a living street. (Specifically, it was Mission Inn Ave, in front of the street's namesake hotel.)

Therefore, I have decided to undertake a project this spring break, which will make excellent use of the recent amazing weather and Riverside's growing bicycle infrastructure. I am going to take you, my readers, on a photographic tour of my city, starting from my neighbourhood and moving west. I don't intend simply to show you the good parts of Riverside, but I do intend to show that there is not only life, but livability here. I hope you'll join me.


Eric said...

Interesting idea. Best of luck!

jessica said...

Hi Justin,
It was super great to meet you. There's lots of opp's in Riverside. Can't wait to hear you highlight them and bring them more into the conversation.