Urbanist Bracket Challenge: We Have a Winner!

The stunning conclusion to the pedestrian streets vs. bike lanes nail-biter.

Now that the Unpaid Pro Basketball Championship is out of the way, we can finally get to the competition that has consumed much of my desktop for the last month: the Urbanist Toolkit Bracket Challenge of 2013.

From the moment Amanda Erickson and I began arranging index cards at an empty desk, we knew we were onto something -- something that might infuriate much of our readership with its reductionist, head-to-head framework of the concepts we hold so dear in our thinking about urban design.

But readers were more fond than furious, and the thing turned out to be a pretty lively undertaking, with plenty of good discussion in the comments section, on Twitter and third-party blogs, and scrawled in the margins of the brackets we received.

Here, as always, is your bracket for download. Let us know if you want it as a poster for the bathroom or something.

As you can see, pedestrian street beat bike lanes, by a fittingly narrow 53-47 margin -- a difference of fewer than a hundred votes.

It wasn't the most popular choice to win it all in the brackets, but it wasn't a huge long shot either.

There had been some strong debate on the subject on the last post, as readers wondered whether pedestrian streets could be year-round useful, or if a strong bike lane network would lead to heavy pedestrian activity anyway. It was a choice between getting there and being there, which is quite a conundrum in any match-up -- if you provide smart, efficient transit do amenities sprout like mushrooms? Or do people need a reason to come downtown? Hard to evaluate the one against the other, which is why we tried to put "getting there" on the left side of the bracket and "being there" on the right.

Anyhow, the people have spoken, and that means the 2013 Urbanist Toolkit Bracket Challenge Champion is Alex Dodds. Congratulations Alex! (Honorable mentions for Joey Sandmann, in second place, and James Gross, in third.)

How did Alex do it? For one thing, she took the campaign to Twitter, pulling for pedestrian street and even knocking bike lanes a little bit:

Most importantly, though, she predicted with near-perfect accuracy the way that readers would vote on the bracket: her bracket was 15/16 in the first round, 7/8 in the second, 3/4 in the third, 2/2 in the fourth, and, obviously, had the pedestrian street winning it all.

So, a hat tip to her, and hearty thanks to all of you for playing along!

If you have suggestions for other fun urban-themed games we could design, tell us in the comments.

About the Author

  • Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.