This post by Trudy Ledsham is part of Spacing‘s partnership with the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank at the University of Toronto. Find out more about the think tank, and the series, here.
Canadians suffer a collective amnesia; we have forgotten that our roads and streets are public spaces. When we talk about public space, we tend to talk about squares and parks and sometime even sidewalks-but rarely do we talk about roads and streets. ‘Google’ images of public space and what comes up are squares and parks and trails and art, but never streets filled with traffic. Academics, and advocates and planners are starting to talk about streets as public space but this is not yet part of the zeitgeist. And yet our streets are our most significant public space-both in terms of the physical space they occupy and in terms of function. They connect us.
While listening to yet another “bikes don’t belong on the road” or “bikes scare me” rant from otherwise reasonable folks, the simple statement that ‘roads are public space’ receives a start of recognition. We may have forgotten, but in our gut, we all know this to be true: roads are public space. I call this forgetting, auto-amnesia.