Thursday, May 26, 2011

Urban Repair Squad and the Perfect is the enemy of the Good

Image of DIY sharrow from URS website
I was at an advocacy committee meeting last night, and the subject came up of the perfect being the enemy of the good in infrastructure.  One of the guys at the meeting works for the T,  and often at a bus stop there will be a crumbling curb, or a cracked and broken sidewalk.  Unfortunately the way things work, if you touch it at all, you have to make it 100% compliant with current codes, including access ramps, pavement textures etc.   Now I think that all those things are good and I understand that the mechanism for making them universal is to tie them into repairs, so that they get done piece by piece and eventually they'll be everywhere.   But unfortunately too often it becomes an incentive to delay maintenance, because there isn't the money to do it "Right"  we can't do anything.

Anyway,  the guy was saying that we needed an Urban Repair Squad.
Evidently this is a loose collective that started in Toronto that dressed up as city workers and installed DIY sharrows, bike lanes, bike boxes. etc.   Obviously painting lines and stencils is easier than repairing curbs and patching potholes, but there's some appeal to having citizen initiative on things...

Their Manifesto is quite amusing-lots of great doodle cartoons explaining basic infrastructure types.  I think there are a couple of traffic engineers who could get something out of it.


  1. I've always wanted to this. I would particularly like to pull out uneven bricks, relevel the base and replace. There are some bad brick walks and they drive me crazy.

    Sharrows are good. Or put in way finding signs, it is easy to get around on primarily side streets if you don't get lost.

    This reminds of the guy in Somville who shovels the snow out of bus stops when the city, the T or the adjacent property owner is unwilling to do so.

    Last year I suggested that cyclists should get together to plow/shovel the various paths around town since our governments won't. But many cyclists were more interested in telling someone else (i.e. government)what they should do rather than figuring out how to get the job done.

  2. Did you hear about the DIY group in Mexico from earlier this year?

  3. I'm from Toronto, and while I love the Urban Repair Squad, they unfortunately cost the city even more money because the city feels the need to go out and cover up all the DIY lane markers. Which defeats the purpose.