Streetsblog.net

Clicking to Connect With Government and Get Things Fixed

An update today from Design New Haven, the excellent Streetsblog Network member that has been promoting the use of SeeClickFix. This rapidly growing service gives citizens a way to document problems in the public space, and back in March the issue getting the most attention in New Haven was the dangerous situation that exists for cyclists on US Route 1 at the Tomlinson Bridge, where a railroad grade crossing has caused multiple bike crashes.

Back in March, Design New Haven had this to say about SeeClickFix:

Tomlinson.JPGDangerous conditions for cyclists on the Tomlinson Bridge in New Haven.
DNH believes that SeeClickFix will be rapidly adopted by individuals concerned with transportation safety and downtown retail districts, particularly as walking, bicycling and transit use all continue to skyrocket to record levels and beyond. Creating a transportation system that serves these millions of new users requires a much greater attention to detail -- for the simple reason that a small transportation system "gap" such as a crack, missing crosswalk, pothole or gravel in the road is far less likely to damage a truck axle than it is to critically injure a pedestrian, cyclist or bus rider crossing the street.

Yesterday the blog's author, Mark Abraham, posted an update on the Tomlinson Bridge issue. Unfortunately, while advocates succeeded in bringing the dangerous conditions to the Connecticut DOT's attention, the solutions proposed fall short:

The [New Haven] Register has another piece on the Tomlinson Bridge, indicating that more serious "fixes" to the problem are not currently being considered by the DOT, despite the large number of ongoing cyclist crashes at the site. A couple of small metal warning signs will be installed by August, however, which is a good start -- but still grossly inadequate at addressing the situation by any federal or state design standard.

We have a feeling that Connecticut transportation officials haven't heard the last of this. It's a great example of how bloggers like those in the Streetsblog Network (now more than 300 strong) are effecting change in their local communities, and how the Internet is changing the way people interact with government.

Speaking of which, thanks to network member Sprawled Out for alerting us to a piece in the Boston Globe about a new iPhone app being launched in that city. Called Citizen Connect, it will allow iPhone users to instantly register their complaints about everything from potholes to overflowing garbage directly with the city:

The application, which will be free to download from Apple, will allow residents to use the global positioning system function on their iPhones to pinpoint the precise location of the problem for City Hall. After submitting a complaint, users will get a tracking number, so they can pester city officials if the problem persists.

More from around the network: Human Transit analyzes the virtues and drawbacks of streetcars, Complete Streets Blog suggests the next steps for getting complete streets provisions in the house transportation bill, and The City Fix reports on a new meeting between carpooling and Facebook.