The Citizens Handbook
Street Reclaiming

The car-free streets of cities in the past were filled with people. They were places for "accidental encounters". Today, with few places for accidental encounters, we all must make formal arrangements to see friends. Its a clumsy and difficult system that results in social isolation and creeping facebookosis.

Street Reclaiming helps people address neighborhood traffic problems, and make the street a place for families and neighbors to socialize. It can begin with one person, or a neighborhood project that brings a community together.

Street reclaiming changes the psychological feel of a street; it becomes "outdoor living room" rather than a thoroughfare overrun by traffic. Examples include, community-designed "wiggly" streetscapes that slow traffic, celebrations in the street, art and gardens, reading on the sidewalk, and other every-day activities that fill the streets with people.

Street reclaiming can start with temporary closures on neighbourhood "Car-Free Days". It can then extend to "thin streets" where one lane of a residential street is closed and turned into a park, or some other use. Finally, the whole street can be closed in one block and converted to a park or used as site to address some community need.

See Street Reclaiming: Creating Livable Streets and Vibrant Communities by David Engwicht, New Society Publishers, 1999.

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The Troublemaker's Teaparty is a print version of The Citizen's Handbook published in 2003. It contains all of The Handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots rot, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from bookstores, Amazon or New Society Publishers.