We’re already well into February, but the New Year is just getting started. 2014 saw the public interest evolve to include new ideas for liveable cities nation wide. 2015 will see the implementations of these ideas in social and creative ways. Trends such as safe urban biking options and a new focus on “local” will be among the list of things to watch for near you as the year unfolds.
As urban dwellers reach their limit with crowded transportation systems, more and more citizens are turning to alternative methods, most notably biking to work. City planners and local governments across the country are encouraging the wave of popularity biking is experiencing as a commuting option, because it lessens the overcrowding of public transportation systems and increases the participation of city dwellers with public spaces. In order to encourage new and timid riders to utilize bike lanes put in place, cities are increasing the safety and protection of riders through non-obtrusive barricades and bike lanes separated from the general roadway by a sidewalk or other separation. This allows bikers to ride along the same routes as other commuters, without feeling vulnerable to the cars and busses that share the roads.
WiFi is being incorporated into mass transit systems in major cities across the country, making the lives of commuters much easier, and the use of public transportation more appealing in general. WiFi is being successfully installed in trains, subways, and in bus shelters among other high-traffic transit spaces. This addition, in tandem with the creation of more safe options for transportation, helps to streamline the transit experience in cities that can have issues with overcrowding and commuting options, such as Manhattan and Chicago.
Locally sourced products, businesses, and organic foods are expected to grow exponentially in popularity this year. As the public becomes more interested in the ethical issues facing corporate business and food practices, they in turn narrow their scope to the local level. This leads to increased participation in local food programs, small businesses, and locally made products by both the consumer and the vendor alike. Look out for farmers markets, co-op programs, hand-made products and locally focused restaurants near you.
History is becoming a priority for the public and corresponding municipalities. Historical buildings are being repurposed as their antiquity and significance are recognized and venerated by the public. These buildings are being revitalized and incorporated into city centers, rather than being torn down or replaced by new construction projects. Get involved with your local historical preservation society or municipal government to find out how this idea is being put into action in your city.
The new recipe for a successful downtown is a combination of large scale and small business, chain and artisan restaurants, and a smattering of various retail spaces, all in one walkable space. This ideal balance of mom and pop shops and corporate structures allows for a wide variety of participants in the downtown space. The presence of various interests and intent by members of a diverse community demands an equal array of businesses, from thrift and music shops to high-end restaurants and retail. In 2015, take a look around your downtown. Notice the unique qualities it possesses, and what it could use to become a more diverse and interesting place to live and work.
These trends are all reactions to the public interest in cities across America. It is clear that local and statewide lawmakers, planners, architects and others are listening to what community members want out of their cities. Trends like these are evidence of a strong movement toward community-centrism, and it is clear that city living in 2015 will begin to feel a lot more localized.