Transportation is culture. It shapes our daily lives

Our cities are alive. In every corner, the circus of daily life takes place before our eyes. A woman surfaces from a subway station racing to get to work on time. At an intersection, a taxi driver speeds to cross on a yellow light. A business executive boards an elevator to the top of a high-rise office building. A novice bike rider takes her first commuting ride down 9th avenue, riding past outdoor diners and bikers rushing to make the next food delivery. 

Just like a living organism that requires the efficient movement of the right amount of energy and the right type of nutrients to function, a city relies on the movement of its people through its streets, around its architecture and up-and-down its layers. As a New Yorker and native of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, I have witnessed how the geography, culture and configuration of a city shapes transportation. With its tropical mountainous terrain, Port-Au-Prince is a dense city of walkers who rely on Tap Tap (street taxis), moto-taxis and private automobiles to get around. Bicycles are rare, as it would take serious calf muscles and stamina to navigate Port-Au-Prince’s topography. 

Like the core of Port-Au-Prince, much of New York City is arranged in a grid, which makes both cities extremely walkable but New York’s almost flat terrain makes it an ideal place for any mode of transportation. Boasting the largest subway system in the world (by number of stations), New York has surprisingly been a sleeper at untapping its potential above ground, where pedestrians navigate congested streets dominated by taxis, trucks, buses, cars-for-hire and private vehicles. 

I argue that the car is an inefficient mode of transportation for people to move in New York City. Bulky, loud and filled with pollutants, cars should only be a last resort as a means of transportation. Right now, we have an opportunity to improve our biking infrastructure to supplement public transportation and walking to get New Yorkers around the city more efficiently and more sustainably.

Transportation is culture. It shapes our daily lives: how we interact with each other and how we interact with the environment around us. It impacts how we carry ourselves in the world. It informs fashion. It can connect us but it can also reveal and deepen inequities. Transportation is the veins and arteries of a city. Along with its people, transportation is the pulse of the city. 

New York City is a circus of cultures and people with a goal and drive to be seen and heard by any means necessary. I am hoping that the Covid-19 crisis allows the city to breathe, slow down and find new ways to show off its creativity in all areas. I also hope it becomes a more sustainable city with happier, healthier and more adventurous people who are willing to live in the present moment. How we move around a city affects how we carry ourselves and how we participate as citizens in the story of that city. While cars can isolate us, bikes allow us to feel like a part of the pulse of the city, making us more conscious of our role in it and how we participate and contribute to its life.

Ouigi Theodore

Creative Director, cultural connector & lead curator

Ouigi Theodore, Creative Director, cultural connector & lead curator, has cultivated a unique style that has garnered recognition not only among the fashion pundits of New York, but also from streetwise fans as far away as Europe, South Africa, Japan, Korea and the UK. He has become a recognizable figure and has established himself as a trend forecaster for advertising and marketing agencies looking to get an edge in the market. He has consulted on campaigns for the likes of Hennessy/LVMH, Toyota, Casio G-Shock, American Express, PF Flyers, Liberty Fairs, ENVSN FEST, New Balance, Reebok, Deutsch Advertising, Sennheiser Audio. He’s been a featured speaker at the PSFK Conference, a trend-forecasting summit in New York, AIGA, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library and the Apple Store.

After graduating from the State University at Stony Brook with a degree in history, he went on to study Advertising Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. As founder of The Brooklyn Circus, one of the most influential retail concepts in the USA, he travels extensively sharing The Brooklyn Circus/BKc perspective as well as the 100 Year plan of Style + Character

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