My name is Anna Peccianti and I am an urban planner living and working in California. I received my masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York where I studied physical and community-based urban planning and wrote my thesis on deterrents to bicycling for women. I have been fortunate to work on innovative physical planning projects in New York City and Los Angeles (including Los Angeles’ first street-to-plaza conversion project, Sunset Triangle Plaza) and my aim is to advocate for urban planning, policy and design that is accessible and relevant to the communities where these efforts take place. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT “THE ACCESSIBLE CITY”
Public space guru Jan Gehl has said that “we shape cities, and they shape us” and as a community-based urban planner, I have spent the last nine years learning as much as I can about how our public spaces are designed and how that design (or lack thereof) affects our behavior. Our public spaces are where we meet, socialize, play, relax, transport ourselves and congregate – but with varying degrees of success. It’s my belief that our public spaces should be accessible to diverse users, activities, modes of transportation and help contribute to a more equitable and interwoven city.
Vibrant and connected public spaces can improve community health through exercise (from walking and biking), reduced pollution from cars, provide traffic calming by slowing speeds and reducing the number of cars and improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. They can contribute to economic growth (successful public spaces can increase patronage of local businesses) and be conducive to community engagement and empowerment by bringing neighbors together to talk, exchange ideas and express themselves through art and culture, protest or collaboration on local projects.
In the absence of successful public and civic spaces, our neighborhoods become disconnected from one another and we live in segregated spaces. Spaces separated by our differences in physical ability, transportation opportunities, language barriers, environmental hazards, perceptions of safety or exclusion and often an inequitable distribution of resources and amenities. Despite these barriers, public spaces are so important to our sense of “community” that residents of neighborhoods that lack accessible public space will transform their home, block or entire neighborhood by expressing themselves through public art, sharing and displaying cultural traditions in innovative ways, and meeting up with friends and families wherever possible (garages, markets, sidewalks, front yards) to socialize, celebrate and feel comforted.
Our inaccessible public spaces can be reborn into accessible spaces through (often inexpensive) urban design and policy changes so that they can be enjoyed by a diversity of people instead of a select few. My objective is to use this blog as a platform to highlight formal and informal projects (as well as the people who work on them) that are contextual to their location, helping to create a better quality of life and ultimately, a more accessible city.