In these politically turbulent times an interest in the role of public spaces playing an important part in civic engagement within a city has been rekindled. The Women’s March in Los Angeles on January 21st was a powerful expression of political dissent, one representing overwhelming concern for the future of human rights in this country. It was grand, but I don’t have to tell you that because you were there – everyone was there (at least it seemed like it, with participation estimates in Los Angeles alone ranging from 100,000 – 750,000).
During the day of the march Metro ridership was up by 360,000 riders compared to an average Saturday. Some might complain about the stresses on transit and the resulting inconvenience it posed to non-march oriented riders, but it was only a single day on inconvenience. The benefit is now countless members of the local population have become somewhat familiar with the public transit system. Metro reports that 40,000 TAP cards were sold that day. Civic engagement and public transit go hand in hand.
Cities are weird. People are weird. And how does one expect to bask in this weirdness without exposing yourself to it. This is where the magic of cities is generated. It’s not all good nor all bad – it’s everything in between. You might catch a cold from a stranger on the bus, but you might also fall in love with the person sitting next to you after seeing the look in their eyes while they’re reading your favorite book. (more…)