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Brooklyn Spoke and Park Slope Neighbors Hosting a Jane Jacobs Ride on PPW

On Sunday, come ride on the PPW bike lane to celebrate the life, work and legacy of Jane Jacobs.

The Jane Jacobs Walk is a program of the Center for the Living City, which is a nonprofit organization created by people who knew Jane Jacobs, a community organizer who helped preserve her neighborhoods from destruction by the hands outside interests.

Jacobs, born in 1916 and died in 2006, was an urbanist, activist and writer whose writings bore a community-based approach to city development. Although she did not have any training in urban planning, her 1961 treatise, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” introduced a novel perspective on how cities function, evolve and even how they fail.

Now, her ideas almost seem to be common sense to architects, city planners, politicians and activists.

In Park Slope, Eric McClure from Park Slope Nieghbors and Doug Gordon, founder of the website Brooklyn Spoke, are hosting a “Jane Jacobs Ride” along Prospect Park West on Sunday.

Gordon said that the program is a way to celebrate “the legacy of Jane Jacobs, who literally wrote the book on cities.”

“She wrote about the ‘ballet of the sidewalk,’ the way in which so many different elements add up to give a neighborhood its vibrancy, Gordon said.

And why would a bike ride on Prospect Park West be an appropriate venue for the event?

“On Prospect Park West you can see exactly what Jane meant: the family riding to soccer practice, someone carrying groceries home from the farmer's market, sidewalk vendors selling artwork, people relaxing on the benches, kids eating ice cream, dog walkers going in and out of the park, you name it,” Gordon said.

So, everyone who is interested in celebrating the life and work of Jane Jacobs is welcome to meet at 12 p.m. Sunday, May 6 at Grand Army Plaza, on PPW and Union Street, and go for a bike ride along the bike lane.

But, there is also another reason they picked the PPW bike lane:

“The now-infamous story of the fight over the bike lane is probably as intriguing as any of the big battles Jane Jacobs herself fought when she was living in the Village in the 1960s,” Gordon explained. “We're hoping people come and bring their own stories and appreciations of the neighborhood, too.”

For other Jane Jacobs Walk events in Brooklyn, click here.

Time: 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Date: Sunday May 6, 2012

Event Start/End: Prospect Park West and Union Street, adjacent to Prospect Park

Host Organization: Eric McClure (Park Slope Neighbors) and Doug Gordon (Brooklyn Spoke)

Registration: No need to sign up, just show up at the posted meeting location.

Accessibility: Fully Accessible - This is a bike ride that will be suitable for all ages.

Rick Oshea May 06, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Oh and Mr McClure I have never heard any suggestions from you about how to keep pedestrians crossing in crosswalks from being seriously injured by bikers in Prospect Park?
Scott May 06, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Sounds like a fun idea. No need to be a grouch.
Rick Oshea May 06, 2012 at 02:19 PM
A fun idea sure but it doesn't seem to me to be in the spirit of Jane Jacobs. She wanted people to walk around and look at this great city and engage with people. You don't do that zipping by on a bike. I walk a mile and a half to work each day and a mile and a half home again. And on each walk I see something new. I enjoy looking at the great achitecture of this neighborhood and find lots of great books and other cool stuff left out on the sidewalk for the taking. And of course dodge bikers running lights. Often on weekends I walk Through the Slope, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and Dumbo down to the Brooklyn Bridge. Then I walk across the bridge being very conscious and careful to stay out of the bike lane. You see a lot by just walking and watching how the city unspools and reaveals itself, looking at how buildings and the style of the neighborhoods change. You see things tucked back out of the way. Interesting things in peoples' yards. I suggest you try it. So have fun on your bike ride but don't think that you are really seeing and engaging as you ride by.
Doug Gordon May 06, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Thanks for the great post, Patch! And thanks to everyone who came today. Special thanks to the person who brought along the great weather.
Park Sloperstein May 07, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Rick, before the bike lane, most everyone used to ride their bikes on the sidewalk on PPW. So, in fact, the bike lane has vastly enhanced the "ballet of the sidewalk" on that street. Likewise, Jane Jacobs was an avid bike commuter herself. Check it out: http://ow.ly/aJCVF.

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