what is the big idea?

29 01 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about this project’s “big ideas” recently.  I’ve spent a lot time these past couple of weeks redesigning this blog to better fit CAB’s intention of establishing an online platform.  In addition to presenting the campus administration recommendations for improvement for their physical infrastructure (i.e. adding signage, new racks, adding “long-term” parking for on campus residents, covered racks, security cameras, adding more substantial lighting by rack locations, etc.) I am also working to propose an online platform that benefits the campus’s growing cycling community.  This blog is an attempt is the start.

The big idea is to use CAB as model that can be present to Universities, Master Planning groups, Advocacy organization or whomever else, and demonstrate the effectiveness of community input and the positive influence it can have on the policy and decision making process.

I am a strong believer, and I’m sure there is some data out there to support this, that when you give community members the credit for being capable of participating in the decision-making process (i.e. policy development) and value their input, you are much more likely to have a productive and useful outcome–generating much more efficient and effective policies.  On the contrary, when community members are left out of the discussion or, their opinions are not highly valued, the likelihood of negative inputs may often be greater.  I believe that this has been the case in regards to bikes at Pratt and I have seen that, with the minimal work that I have done to bring the cycling community at Pratt together, we have generated an incredible amount of positive inputs that will benefit the campus (and its surrounding community) as a whole.  The forthcoming notes from the Design Jam will illustrate this point.

CAB was created around this idea of community/people based planning and I believe it has the potential to influence other planning projects.  It is my hope to develop a wiki for this site that will allow Pratt students, staff and faculty to contribute their ideas, highlight their projects or bike/alt. transit curriculum, and share photos.  In addition to the discussions, I’d like to add two main features that I think have the potential to benefit the City’s needs as well as Pratt’s needs.  I’d like to create mapping page, as well as a “stolen bike reports” page.

How I do I imaging these to work?

Mapping:  community members can map their routes within the NYC bike map to campus and other frequented areas.  A line marks their route (much like map my ride) and then it is added and stored on the database.  Each time a route is added, where the routes overlap, the line receives a weight to it–showing the frequency of use.  One can enter notes about the route (i.e. “no bike lane but few cars” or “cars always park in bike lanes here”, etc), allowing students (and others) to see the best ways to get to and from campus (and beyond).  Mapping these routes along the NYC bike map is critcal, because we can see where bike lanes exist, and recognized frequented routes where a lane maybe needed.  This not only helps the students at PRatt, but also can help surrounding community members as well as demonstrate to City specific areas frequently ridden by cyclists, that don’t necessarily have a bike lane.

As for the “stolen bike reports” page: students can map/flag a campus map where there bike was stolen.  An online report can be written and then the report can link back to the campus Security/Facilities offices and further action can be taken.  Students/Staff can see the map of problem areas and again, further action can be taken–security cameras can be installed, more lighting, better racks, frequent pass bys by security offices, etc.  Streamlining the process and benefiting all parties.  This too can be modeled on the City level. I’m aware that some of these programs already exist–but, by integrating them into a more confined area–such as a campus or community block–people are able to directly connect the problem areas to their community or neighborhood.

What do you think?

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