The key to revitalising PoS
THE EDITOR: The discussion about improving Port of Spain is welcome but before we spend millions making changes we need to establish the key points that make a city an amazing place to live. They are: good housing, reliable transportation, pleasant walking and biking areas.
When housing needs are not met many problems descend on the city: unaffordable housing leading to homelessness, which in turn often leads to increased drug use, gentrification as low-income residents fleeing their homes due to rising rents spurred by increased demand, and people choosing to live further from the city, leading to long commutes and more traffic.
To avoid these problems, housing must be affordable and plentiful. For this to happen we must enable more low and mid-rise buildings in our most lucrative neighbourhoods such as Belmont, Woodbrook, St James.
Low-rise buildings are four floors and under. Mid-rise buildings have between five and 13 floors. A six-floor building is the optimal height, with ample real estate at a reasonable cost and is still connected to the street, unlike skyscrapers and high-rises that are isolated from the neighbourhood and are quite costly for private developers to build.
Port of Spain cannot realise its full potential unless it embraces modern transportation technology. A light rail transit (LRT) system would do wonders to improve traffic by reducing the demand on private vehicles for travel.
Investing in an LRT system doesn’t mean buses become obsolete. Rather, buses work with the LRT system to move passengers to and from stations. And improving the bus service by increasing frequency and reducing delays by adding more bus lanes throughout the city will have immediate benefits.
A pleasant walking experience is what makes or breaks a city. Pedestrians are more likely to shop at local businesses, which is why Charlotte Street is one of the best streets for vendors. Pedestrians demand clean, wide sidewalks, trees to provide shade and better air quality, benches and streets safe from vehicular traffic.
It would also be wise to make it easier and safer to cycle in the capital city as this is the best way to travel distances too far to walk but close enough that it would be illogical to hop in a car, adding to the already burdensome traffic.
Many cities around the world are embracing cycling as a viable means of transport and have reaped the benefits of better air quality, less vehicular traffic, with businesses seeing an increase in patrons.
I advise the mayor and decision makers to walk the sidewalks of Port of Spain to experience the city as the everyday people do and see how they can make our capital city a better place.
"The key to revitalising PoS"