Parks are the new roads

How would our cities change if we replaced most of our roads with parks?

This week on podparks, we are advocating for green networks, which are webs of parks and corridors and walkways that allow people to navigate the city through green public spaces.

Green networks center non-motorized transport and human mobility to create alternative pedestrian routes that connect neighborhoods, parks and other open spaces without the need to follow a streetscape. This allows people to immerse themselves in parks on their daily commutes, receiving the physical and mental health benefits of green spaces and reducing the need for cars. 


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Phil Berczuk, Head of Design at Steer Group, discusses these challenges of continuity of green spaces in cities, and how connecting parks and green corridors with public transportation systems can create efficient transit networks. But creating green networks requires being critical about how cities are designed, and transforming the transit priorities beyond 9-to-5 daily work commutes. Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director at 8-80 Cities, equates this to redesigning a city with a gender and inclusion lens. Green corridors can benefit those smaller trips that happen in a 15-minute city, and by doing so they create more inclusive environments where everyone can access their surrounding neighborhoods without depending on a car.

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A great example of these transformations is taking place in Pittsburgh, US.  Gavin White, Director of Planning and Projects at Riverlife, discusses the regional effort Pittsburgh is undertaking to connect its three riverfronts with its citizens by converting them into active corridors for pedestrians and cyclists. The project seeks to promote active transportation through the use of these trails, and to ensure that every citizen of Pittsburgh has access to green spaces and waterfront recreation areas.

Medellin, Colombia is spearheading a similar large-scale green corridor project. Jorge Perez Jaramillo, Advisor for the Government of Antioquia, Colombia, explains what it means for the city to champion its Parques del Rio, a new park project that is burying highways to create the biggest green corridor the city has ever seen. 

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