MassBike’s Barbara Jacobson to Speak at The New England Bike Walk Summit

By Dana Henry, Traffic Safety Store

A large mural facing the road. A full scale Bochi ball court beneath an overpass. A public park inside a triangular intersection.

Complete Streets advocate Barbara Jacobson has seen countless examples of asphalt transformed into lively public spaces. She will share these during her presentation, “Bicycling: Going Beyond the Paint,” at the New England Bike Walk Summit hosted by the East Coast Greenway Alliance on Thursday, September 24th, in Worcester Massachusetts.

Jacobson recalls projects that go beyond infrastructure and embrace the unexpected. Barron Plaza in Cambridge’s Central Square, once a four lane thruway, is now it’s one of Boston’s liveliest destinations, supporting a bevy of nearby restaurants and venues. In Mexico City, a parking area has been revamped into a public meeting space furnished with sculptures, bike racks, and shrubbery. In San Francisco, a full scale park decked out with ball courts and swings sits beneath an underpass.

Some projects incorporate technology. “The Faces of Dudley,” a civil rights mural project proposal that Jacobson worked on for FEAST MASS, incorporates an iPhone accessible audio track that tells the story of the leaders pictured.

Effective transformations, however, aren’t limited to large public works projects. Simply reinventing a parking space as a “parklet” can excite local business owners and jumpstart collaborations. Small efforts – a movie screening beneath a bridge in Baltimore or a string of lights hung on dark overpasses in Austin – are evidence of complete streets ideals spreading across the U.S.

“Cities are living, they’re changing, they’re adapting,” says Jacobson. “It’s about viewing the streets as a place for people to be in rather than drive through.”


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