urban planning

Ah, the Days of Disneyfied Speculation

Currently my days are filled researching communication techniques and visualization tools employed in the realm of transportation, and my work brought me to this gem of a video, an excerpt from the 1958 Disneyland TV Show, Magic Highway USA.

Perhaps you’ve seen it, or perhaps this will be your first time to witness the awesomeness. Yes, the paternalistic mindset is a bit vexing but it does hail from over a half century ago. I breathe a huge sigh of relief that many of the speculative technologies and ways of transport have not become part of our urban (or rural) vernacular. (And thank goodness my day is not filled with taking Junior to the mall for “effortless window shopping on a moving walkway.”) But, I also smile and give a silent cheer in support of those who dared to speculate. Where has that gone? Why don’t we see crazy futuristic imagery like in the days of Bucky Fuller or Frank Lloyd Wright?

Wright, F.L. 1958. The Living City. New York: Horizon Press.

Is it that we have more access to information than ever before, making us all arm chair speculators? If access to information has increased, is there no need to employ Disney to visualize these grandiose ideas by planners, landscape architects, engineers and the like? Or perhaps our speculation has turned to different matters, like smaller technologies and communications? We’re all ears if you have some thoughts on this matter. Darn if they didn’t get some things right in this, like some safety features and increased commuter radius (code for suburbanization). Enjoy and let us know what you think.

Jefferson Avenue Bike Boulevard


At BrainstormOverload we care not just about bikes, design, and design communities but we care about designing communities, too. We’ve decided it is time to put our interests and skills to good use in our own community. Wednesday night was a small but important victory for citizens in the Saint Paul area, and we were glad to be just a small part of the effort. Saint Paul gained city council approval (6-1) on the very first bike boulevard in Saint Paul. The roughly 4.25 miles of Jefferson Avenue will, in the next year or so, become an important part of the non-motorized transportation infrastructure of the Twin Cities.

In future posts I’ll write more about the policy that paved the way for this project, the people behind the effort, and what I see as the boulevard design positives and negatives, but for now I just want to revel in the warm fuzzies of a community coming together to consider public good as paramount to private good. Eight came out in opposition, largely talking about “my streeet”. On the flip side twenty-eight people agreed to speak in support of the boulevard as a small step in the right direction for our community, our street, our health, and our children. Four of which were a family from the east side of Saint Paul (far away from this boulevard). All four members, the daughter, son, mother, and father spoke about how important this step is for families who rely on safe non-motorized options in the Cities. They bike for nearly every trip from their house, and they felt strongly enough about affecting change that they took three and a half hours out of their evening to support this. I know there are many who have been involved in bike advocacy for years in our region; I commend every one of them and am inspired by their efforts to personally do more for our city and community. More to come on the boulevard implementation, but for now….a warm fuzzy public good feeling.


family with eight wheels