Arsenal of Exclusion and Inclusion

The 99% Invisible podcast recently featured an episode about The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion, a glossary of the many visible and invisible tactics used by urban planners to bring people together — or keep them apart.

From armrests on public benches to Hamsterdam, the arsenal is a fascinating list.

In the podcast, the team travels through a “museum of exclusion”, a stretch of street in Baltimore called Greenmount Avenue. Affluent houses are separated from their poorer neighbors with roadblocks, one-way streets, residential parking permits, and impossible left-hand turns.

Daniel D’Oca, the urban planner leading the tour and co-author of the arsenal, points out that while these barriers are a nuisance, removing them obviously won’t directly bring about equality. They are more of a symbol of exclusion and one of the many ways cities can silently segregate its citizens.

That got me thinking about where I live in Berlin, and whether any items from the arsenal, either inclusive or exclusive, are nearby.

Right on my corner, for example, there’s a headache of an intersection. With fences and a weaving set of crosswalks, it can take up to an extra 3 minutes to reach the station. If you bee-lined it with a new crosswalk, it’d be much faster. We’ve thought about sneaking out at night to paint a pedestrian crossing.

On the other hand, immediately to the right of that crossing is a little public square. With an ancient tree, a mosque, several restaurants and now a bus/kiosk, there’s always a crowd gathered. The space invites people to linger and meet one another. The streetview image doesn’t do it justice, but the scene on a summery Friday night can be jammed packed.

Do you see the arsenal of exclusion/inclusion at work in your neighborhood?

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