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Recent Blog Entries: Public Spaces

Public transit, safety, and the public realm

March 21, 2013 By Debra Efroymson Public Spaces, Public Transit Post a comment!

At a meeting I recently attended on transport spending, a couple of the women in the audience objected to the promotion of public transit on safety grounds. How can we ask women to use the bus, they demanded, when it is unsafe? I have a few problems with their argument. One, concerns about safety are often based more on perception than reality. That is, public transit is often far…

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The connected life

February 12, 2013 By Debra Efroymson Public Spaces Post a comment!

I suggested to a colleague recently that as part of our research on the contribution of the beach near our home to public life, we should do a networking map, showing the connections between the different people who come to the beach. He laughed, presumably imagining the same thing I did: a very messy diagram with an awful lot of lines. A friend at the beach who manages public…

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The high entertainment value of public spaces

July 3, 2012 By Debra Efroymson Public Spaces Post a comment!

Yesterday on my morning dog walk I was accosted by an elderly acquaintance. He started by complaining that he is “growing rust”, then grabbed my hand, interlaced his fingers through mine, and said that a married woman has suddenly, for no reason he can imagine, showed an interest in him. Finally he leaned towards me to whisper: “She is using me!!”

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Another paean to public spaces

May 3, 2012 By Debra Efroymson Public Spaces Post a comment!

The last few days I have not been feeling well, and as I walked with my dogs at the lake this morning, I began to have some sharp pains in the stomach. I kept my head down, waiting for them to pass. When I finally looked up, I was welcomed by a virtual storm of greetings from others out walking: “Hello hello! We haven’t seen you…

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Public spaces need the public

January 15, 2012 By Debra Efroymson Dhaka, Public Spaces Post a comment!

One day during the monsoon season, as I was walking with my dogs at Dhanmondi lake in Dhaka, it started to pour. Shortly after, a beggar who I regularly greet passed by and urged me to take her umbrella. I could imagine people’s reaction: foreigner takes umbrella from beggar, so I refused despite her insistence. Recently I heard that a decision has been made to start a…

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Introduction to my blog

December 4, 2011 By Debra Efroymson Public Spaces, Public Transit, Urban Planning Post a comment!

A big part of my job is to work with people in different Asian countries to advocate for the kinds of policies that make it easier for people to lead healthy lives. The issues I address include tobacco control, urban transport, urban planning, and gender issues.

The hardest part of the work is the various obstacles one faces: objections from people that what we are campaigning for…

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