19 Dec 8 New Year’s Resolutions that Cities Should Make For 2018
It’s a wonderful time of the year where families and friends gather together and celebrate the holiday season. It may also be the time for the dreaded year-end tradition where that one relative of yours will inevitably ask about your new year’s resolutions.
Now unfortunately we’re not in the position to set personal goals for you. (One more slice of chocolate cake can’t hurt, right?) What we do want to do is to challenge you as city builders to rethink our priorities to ensure we are, indeed, creating cities for all. So, let us be your motivational coach of civic affairs and suggest these 8 new year’s resolutions for 2018!
1. Invite more children, youth, and older adults to the table.
Given our name, our #1 resolution for cities would be to get more children, youth, and older adults involved in the decision-making process. Find ways and places for these groups to participate, outside of the usual Thursday night town hall meetings at the local church basement. Make it fun. Make it accessible.
2. Be bold to try new things.
Think big, start small. Implement pilot projects to test run bigger ideas and plans. Give yourself the time and opportunity to learn from your hiccups and mishaps. Macon, Duluth, West Palm Beach…We’ve tried it everywhere we go, and it works. Even our hometown Toronto did it with its Bloor Street bike lanes and more recently the King Street Pilot with numbers to prove.
3. Walk the talk – take real action to implement Vision Zero.
We’ve heard a lot about Vision Zero here in Toronto and in many communities we’ve been to. Yet in a single week in October this year, there were five pedestrian deaths in this city. We’re not doing enough to save lives. We not only need to lower traffic speeds, but we must also be serious about building more and safer infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.
4. Go on a road diet.
If you’re like me, you’re probably still thinking about that cake. Like a good, go-to new year’s resolution for humans, cities also need to go on a cleanse. Many of our streets are built far too wide because we’re addicted to appeasing our need for speed with cars. They’re neither safe nor friendly to the 8 and 80 year olds who want to walk to their neighbourhood park. Looking for a recipe? Try this.
5. Make Open Streets happen, bigger and more often.
We had so much fun talking to people at Open Streets TO this summer, and we’d love this to happen more often. Open Streets, or Ciclovia, are an amazing way for people of all backgrounds to come together as equals, be healthy, and have a good time. Nothing can beat the amazing feeling of hanging out right in the middle of your city’s busiest street, it’s surreal.
6. Don’t listen to what others say, embrace winter!
I know. I’m guilty of complaining too. But especially after going to the Winter Cities Shake Up in Edmonton earlier this year, we understand the importance of embracing winter as a city, and making our communities livable and enjoyable all year round. If you’re looking to learn a new language in 2018, start with the word hygge.
7. Treat parks as outdoor community centres.
If you’ve had the chance to listen to one of Gil Penalosa’s awesome keynotes, you have probably heard about his push for better urban parks. It’s true, parks are the greatest assets that a city could have. As we would invest in staffing and programming at community centres, we also need to put as much energy and resources into parks to make them outdoor community hubs for people.
8. Learn from each other.
We all like to be the best, and cities are no doubt the same. Yet there’s so much we can learn if we just get to know each other better. From our 8 80 Copenhagen Study Tour to the Emerging City Champions fellowship program, we’ve seen the power of inter-city learning and relationship-building among our participants. We’re always impressed when our friends collaborate on projects and make great things happen.
Our team had a wonderful and productive 2017, and we’re thankful to all our great friends and partners across the globe. We’ll be taking a break starting December 25 and will be back on January 2. From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you a safe and joyous holiday season and a happy new year!