Contesting the City: Street Vending in Chicago and Mumbai

In cities across the globe, street vendors and local officials are engaged in distinct forms of antagonism, tolerance, and collusion, with vendors sometimes protected by local officials and sometimes removed from public space. While these contentious relationships between city authorities and street vendors leave vendors in a vulnerable position, this article argues that vendors are not passive or helpless in the face of urban authorities. In order to demonstrate how street vendors are able to contest city policy and practices, this research draws on theories of urban informality and resistance which are largely predicated on scholarship of the Global South, and applies these theories in a comparative analysis of distinct cities with significant unauthorized vending populations: Chicago and Mumbai. By comparing different cities, the objective is to create a broader understanding of resistance efforts and urban informality that is sensitive to local contexts but not bound by geographical distinctions. To this end, a spectrum of contestation acts are identified, from the physical occupation of space to the formal use of urban institutions like the court system, which can help explain the local and proximate patterns of street vending and removal enforcement. This argument is drawn from research in three neighborhoods in Chicago and three in Mumbai from 2011 to 2015. The analysis presented here shows how different resistance methods can have specific outcomes, ranging from formal policy changes to unofficial acceptance or toleration of vending activities, and how city rules can be negotiated from below.

Walking the Streets: No More Motorways for Belfast

This article explores how the spatial qualities and diversity of one of Belfast’s main arteries, North Street/Peter’s Hill, was transformed by urban planning decisions throughout the twentieth century. It looks specifically at how a car-dominated planning system contributed to the deterioration of the street fabric. Predicated on ideas of plot-based urbanism, the analysis of historic maps and plans points to the ways in which the function and dimensions of the buildings have contributed to the vibrancy of North Street/Peter’s Hill and how the more recent transformation of those functions and dimensions damaged these streets. The article acknowledges that streets are made of the social and cultural context in which they exist, while their form and function is instrumental to their embedded public life.

Reducing Sprawl, Riding the Bus, and Losing Weight in America

There is a well-established relationship between exercise and weight in individuals. Recently, relationships between certain urban characteristics usually associated with less sprawl and more exercise, especially walking, have been found. This paper examines one probable less sprawl–more exercise–lower weight sequence by hypothesizing that counties in metropolitan areas with higher population density will have more people complete their journey to work by walking, biking, or taking public transportation, and therefore have fewer people who are overweight. Data on journey to work, population density and other urban characteristics from the U. S. Census, and on obesity rates and other health factors from the U. S. Center for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were collected for 176 counties in metropolitan areas of the United States. The data is analyzed using Instrumental Variables (2SLS) Regression. A statistically significant relationship from population density through journey to work mode to obesity rates is found. This finding implies that arranging urban and suburban space with greater density and less sprawl encourages walking, biking, and taking transit and should help in the battle against obesity.