The Omnibus is all about ideas. From the beginning, Urban Omnibus has been a showcase of good ideas for the future of cities, conceived in the public interest and tried and tested in the five boroughs of New York. So, we have decided to surface some of the ideas that have appeared on Urban Omnibus over the past two years and broadcast them around the city.

In April 2011, we released a series of Idea Posters, pasted on fences, scaffolds and storefronts from Jamaica, Queens, to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and many places in between. With this poster campaign, we wanted to turn the tactics of ubiquitous marketing — in which every bus, taxi or construction barrier is a canvas for advertising anything and everything — upside down by using a similar language to share examples of creativity and innovation in the urban realm. We want to spread these ideas to the whole city, online and off. And we want to hear your new ideas too.

Below you will find 50 ideas for New York already explored on Urban Omnibus and a space for you to share your own. For each idea listed, click through to see a related Urban Omnibus feature that describes a specific project or perspective. We hope, in some small way, we can help re-enchant the urban environment as a landscape of possibility, a realm of action and intention, and a place that represents — and deserves — a long and evolving history of creative ideas.

1
Combat climate change by adapting our existing building stock

Changing our way of life doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. Retrofits and clip-on applications offer manageable, viable solutions.

2
Support the arts through asset-building

Foster cultural vitality by helping artists avoid displacement, debt and risk.

3

4
Make a small difference in a community you know

Helping people doesn’t always have to be a big production. Simple interventions in the public interest can improve urban life and landscape.

5
Map everything

Property, parks, wetlands, waterfront access, land use: know where everything is in order to learn about new urban challenges and opportunities.

6
Use temporary structures to offer amenities to underserved communities

Trial interventions that respond to inadequate services can inspire communities to demand permanent change.

7
Design for generational diversity

Help aging residents of the city stay in their homes and communities by capitalizing on urban density and convenience.

8
Look for excess capacity everywhere and put it to good use

The need to drive doesn’t mean you have to own a car. From infrastructure to the Internet, let’s get more out of what we already have.

9
Listen to your ecosystem

Be your own safari guide through the biodiversity of New York City and learn how ecology and urban systems compete and cooperate.

10
Support a diverse economy

A healthy urban economy should include making stuff right here in New York City.

11
Enliven schools to engage children

Good architecture and quality design can make learning appealing and fun.

12

13
Let the city tell you its stories

Investigating the history behind our city’s forgotten structures and spaces helps us appreciate how the city is made.

14
Use theater to investigate issues of neighborhood change and development

Find creative, accessible and non-partisan ways shed light on complex dynamics between citizens, the private sector and the city.

15
Look at the city through the lens of food

Our city is shaped by food culture and complex infrastructure that supplies, processes, distributes, stores and removes the waste of what we eat. Understand and improve those systems to create a healthy, resilient, sustainable urban environment.

16
Make rules and regulations easy to understand

Convoluted and incomprehensible laws can lead to excessive or undeserved fines and punishments. Let’s make it easier to understand our rights and responsibilities.

17
Take care of nature wherever nature is found

Forests and wilderness aren’t the only natural environments that need care-taking. Urban environmentalism allows you to cross the divide between the rural and the urban.

18
Encourage the private sector to create public amenities

Public space isn’t developed by the city alone. Let’s make it more appealing for developers to build spaces for shared use and enjoyment.

19

20
Reconsider where, how and with whom we work

Mobile technologies and flexible workspaces might mean it’s time to reinvent the office.

21
Harness renewable energy from the tides, not just the sun and the wind

Use the city’s waterways for more than recreation and industry. Tap into this natural resource for a predictable, invisible source of energy generation.

22
Use the city as a classroom

Encourage children to rethink the city they see every day and imagine ways to make it better.

23
Make our city's systems visible to increase understanding of how they work

See the city through someone else’s eyes to appreciate your surroundings in new ways.

24

25
Play with the implications of computing embedded in nearly every aspect of daily life

Our reliance on technology is changing the way we live, work, play, move and learn. Now let’s have it inform the way we design and build our environments.

26
Involve the city's newest residents

In a city known for its diversity, let’s make it easier for immigrant populations to participate in civic organizations and local government.

27
Celebrate and activate the city's ecology

Turn a modest design intervention — like a birdhouse — into the basis for lifelong learning about ecology.

28
See the city as software

Treat urban environments as system resources rather than a mute collection of disarticulated buildings, vehicles, sewers and sidewalks.

29
Coordinate like-minded, small-scale initiatives to activate otherwise isolated efforts

Envisioning urban agriculture as a citywide system and creating shared resources for local practitioners can help everyone involved — policymakers, supporters, growers — coordinate and advance their efforts.

30
Create ways for businesses to share space and resources

Communicating needs and opportunities with neighbors can help make more efficient use of our buildings and office space.

31

32
Look closely at the diversity of building types we have in this city

Foster a nuanced understanding of the city by illuminating the links between our housing stock and the economic and social forces that fuel its design.

33
Learn from the geologic material beneath your feet

By understanding how deep geologic time impacts our built environment, we can make better choices in what we build with today.

34
Design recreation space by watching how people play

Adapt your design to the way people use it. Test, observe, ask for feedback, improve.

35
Connect Web 2.0 talent with city governments

Enable policymakers and bureaucracies to act more like the citizens they serve.

36
Stop sewer overflow with creative preventive design

Stormwater management is crucial to our health, our waterways and our city. Let’s design it intelligently.

37

38
Ask citizens how they want to improve their cities

Public participation works best when you connect the people who enact change with the people who know what needs to be done. Let’s make it easy for them to talk to each other.

39
Allow accidents to happen

The way we work changes faster than our buildings do. Let’s make our commercial spaces flexible, adaptable and open to serendipitous encounters.

40
Think beyond shelter to help the homeless

Small-scale design and spatial choreography can address large-scale social issues.

41
Let citizens engage in the maintenance of infrastructure

Simple systems for creating alerts when something goes wrong can be a first step toward greater familiarity with and appreciation for complex urban systems.

42
Think of wandering and observing the city's streets as an art form

Looking closely at your surroundings can be as creative and illuminating as making something new to look at.

43

44
Turn toxic land into agriculturally productive lots

Property owners can use nature as their ally to clean up contaminated soil.

45
Share, discuss and tweak proposed works of public art, architecture and urban design

Let’s question and advance the established methods and norms of public review and participation to make the process more accessible and approachable.

46
Celebrate the urban beauty of the overlooked

Rather than using public art projects to cover over mistakes of the past, create public access to hidden beauty and invite visitors to engage with local history.

47

48
Learn from the unbuilt city

Designs that were never realized can tell us just as much about our city’s history as the buildings and spaces we see everyday.

49
Interrogate your assumptions about what sustainability means

Energy efficiency is a complex issue. Make more informed choices by understanding, challenging and exposing contending agendas.

50
Invite everyone to share good ideas for the future of cities

We want to hear from you.

Add Your Ideas!

What are your ideas for the new city?

    Destroy all cars.

    Replace the subways with a conveyor belt.

    -- Don

    Make more places to sit outside and enjoy the city for free.

    SUPPORT URBAN INDUSTRY BOTH SMALL AND LARGE SCALE – FROM FOOD TO FASHION – BOATS TO BICYCLES – FILMS TO FARMS.

    -- Claire

    Share resources–from bikes to vacuums–to relieve the burden of ownership.

    Make it easy for people to take advantage & create their own projects on vacant sites

    More plants. Have rooftop gardens- plants growing from planters on building sides. Hanging plants from lampposts. Gardens on medium strips. Flowers on street corners. Fruit trees in places where people can come to pick a piece to eat and share. We need more beauty. More plants.

    Let it be like the old city. Stop building new infrastructure for cars and let the natural innovations and demands of the human beings in it start to rebuild.

    Taxshift to Land Value Taxation and phase out taxes on productivity

    Close the Gaps in the Manhattan Greenway for safer, more enjoyable, biking

    Use agency and pension money to fund a State Bank, making loans to New Yorkers, not investments for Wall Street (to lose)

    no tax for small shops and activities at street level in monofunctional neighboorhoods / with low activity rate

    My own favorite idea for ALL cities, is that they include at least one (or more) fully operating farm and dairy, for the benefit of the populace, i.e. food, milk, and wisdom. A wonderful adjunct to life, to the education system, to wider realities. It would certainly tie in with #11 and #22.

    harness energy from cardio machines at gyms! why does it have to take energy for people to burn off energy?

    -- common sense

    let’s use EVERY rooftop.

    -- Emma

    I love the city, but I also love nature. Let’s make it easier to take a day trip!

    -- Emma

    bigger sidewalks, smaller streets.

    -- Emma

    Public art and opportunities for everyone to engage culturally. Grassroots artists expand the realm of possibilities for all of society.

    -- Ryan Thomas

    Destroy all cities

    -- Godzilla

    People First

    Integrate buildings with vertical agriculture and green roofs.

    Support the following:
    1) Urban Marketing as a permanent substitute for banners and advertisements.
    e.g. Make non electrical stairs at train stations fun to use by adapting them to be functional piano keys. thefuntheroy.com
    2) programs that provide wireless internet as a public service. Starting on public transportation systems and public spaces like trains and bus stops.
    3) Let Sunday mornings be times in which certain streets in the city become pedestrian only. Extend to other weekdays.

    Enable a good middle class environment to help reduce class disparity in urban areas by ensuring better schools and good, affordable housing.

    Have a space within 1 minute from each persons home that is greenspace – enough for each one to feel the earth and practice yoga each morning.

    -- Melissa

    SEE MANHATTAN’S RIM AT 3 M.P.H.
    WALK THROUGH 20 WATERFRONT PARKS IN ONE DAY

    COME ON THE GREAT SAUNTER OF 2011
    SAT. MAY 7TH.

    -- cy a

    CREATE THE GREEN BIKE RING
    A DEDICATED, 30 MILES LONG CAR-FREE BIKE RING,
    BY TRANSFORMING ONE OF ROBERT MOSES’ SIX CAR LANES AROUND MANHATTAN
    INTO A DEDICATED BIKE LANE:

    -- CY A

    BRING TRUE BATTERY-POWERED BUSES TO NYC.
    ASSEMBLE THEM IN NYC -WE HAVE THE TALENT.
    USE NON-POLLUTING BUSES
    INSTEAD OF THE SMELLY MTA HYBRIDS WHICH NEVER SHUT THEIR DIESELS OFF.

    -- CY A

    CREATE
    THE HARLEM RIVER VALLEY RECREATION AREA
    BY COORDINATING AND CONNECTING THE DOZEN PARKS AND HISTORIC SITES
    ALONG THE HARLEM RIVER TO CREATE A PARK AREA
    BIGGER AND MORE VARIED THAN CENTRAL PARK.

    -- CY A

    BUILD”
    THE CENTRAL PARK TOLL TUNNEL
    FROM 125TH STREET TO MIDTOWN UNDER CENTRAL PARK
    TO RID THE PARK OF CARS AND SPEED BUS TRAFFIC.
    THE CPTT WOULD PAY FOR ITSELF.

    CREATE
    THREE-R ISLAND
    13 MILES OFFSHORE IN THE NEW YORK BIGHT.
    3-R ISLAND WOULD RECYCLE NYC’S SOLID WASTE. AND CONVERT IT TO ELECTRICITY.
    3-R ISLAND WOULD HANDLE INDUSTRIES NO ONE WANTS IN THEIR BACK YARD

    DEDICATE
    THE GREAT SAUNTER FOOT PATH
    A 32-MILE WALKING TRAIL, FREE FROM BIKES CREATED BY THE SHOREWALKERS
    ALONG THE ROUTE OF THE GREAT SAUNTER- .
    THE GSFP GOES THROUGH OVER 20 WATERFRONT PARKS AND PROMENADES

    -- CY A

    STRAIGHTEN OUT THE M-96 BUS ROUTE
    BY CHANGING THE FOUR RIGHT- ANGLE TURNS AT BROADWAY AND 96TH STREET INTO ONE U TURN
    ON THE UNUSED TRAFFIC ISLAND AT THE WEST END OF 96TH STREET.
    SAVE TIME AND MONEY AND REDUCE POLLUTIONN.

    -- CY A

    FESTOON MANHATTAN’S RIM.
    HANG HIGH A SILVER CORD AROUND THE 32 MILES OF MANHATTAN’S WATERFRONT.
    ON THE CORD DISPLAY FLAGS AND BANNERS FROM ALL 50 STATES,
    AND FROM ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD.

    -- CY A

    DEDICATE AND MAINTAIN
    THE ROBERT MOSES FOOT PATH
    A TWO MILE DESIRE PATH CREATED BY WALKERS AND JOGGERS
    IN RIVERSIDE PARK RUNNING FROM ~80TH TO 129TH STREET.
    THE ROBERT MOSES FOOT PATH RUNS MAINLY ON TOP OF THE CONCRETE-STEEL PLATFORM
    BUILT BY MOSES IN THE 1930′S.

    -- CY A

    DESIGN ALL CITY BOLLARDS
    SO THAT WALKERS CAN RELAX AND SIT ON THEM.

    -- CY A

    PUBLIC-SCHOOL PARENT-SERVICE. PS-PS
    PARENTS ARE THE PRIME TEACHERS OF CHILDREN.
    PARENTS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS WILL BE ASKED
    TO SPEND TWO WEEKS PER TERM AT THEIR CHILD’S SCHOOL
    TO HELP THE SCHOOL FUNCTION AND TO LEARN HOW TO HELP THEIR CHILD.
    THE PARENTS WOULD BE PAID TO HELP THE SCHOOL
    AS JURORS ARE NOW PAID TO HELP THE LEGAL SYSTEM.

    DEDICATE
    THE BATT TO BEAR TRAIL,
    THE 56-MILE FOOT PATH FROM THE BATTERY IN MANHATTAN
    TO BEAR MOUNTAIN.
    HAVE THE GOVERNORS OF NY AND NJ MEET ON THE G.W. BRIDGE,

    BUILD THE VOID

    Deeply link human activities with the regeneration of living systems for a mutual coevolution towards greater health

    Free busking everywhere.

    free hotdogs.

    -- Your Name

    Wood-seated light rail on city streets and accurate signs telling when the trains are coming (Switzerland).

    make the city much greener.

    -- aluphia

    Run a Gondola up the West side from Battery Park to the Seventies — right over tenth avenue? Run one across 34th Street. And maybe 42nd Street. And maybe right down Fifth Avenue.

    Put some stations/stops on the street, and some in buildings. Go through some buildings. (They did it with trains – look at the high line.)

    Its clean, its cheap, its fun, and it may even be really good looking.

    -- C Lemonides

    Provide accessible, exceptional health care to all residents, especially vulnerable populations.

    -- Blake

    you clean your own shit, you get your own water. let the cities be creative, let us search, not as a hobby but as a necessity. expect less, do more.

    -- llcc

    Benches! Lots of them! In subway stations and on the sidewalks!

    End noise pollution — on the streets and in the subways! Outlaw useless car alarms. Outlaw the pointless “beep” as people leave/approch their cars. End the idiotic “emergency” alarms that sound constantly in the subways as people with strollers and large loads leave. End the idiotic ding-ding-ding that sounds as subway employees try to close the doors while people are still boarding.

    Appreciate what you have to consume less.

    Close more streets to pedestrians only permanently.

    -- Lara

    Collect food waste for compost in neighborhoods (not just at farmer’s markets)

    Make more outside subways.

    Better landlord/tenant’s rights education.

    Underground aquaculture — growing plants in abandoned spaces.

    -- Harrison Fox

    1st Floor commercial window boxes with vegetables and flowers.

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Less messaging, of any type! I want urban spaces to offer more tranquility. Even non-commercial activity can be oppressive!

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Create ONE website gathering information about all of the cities job training and employment programs in one place: help much needed by and for unemployed and new workers!!

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    An interactive social media site regarding housing, where those looking for housing, landlords and renters can interact, input information and users can get specific custom info on neighborhoods to find housing.

    -- Seth

    More comfortable, staffed public toilets with corporate sponsors — free to cab drivers with parking spaces.

    Weave your plastic — go to facebook: ‘Dancing Weavings’

    Make the Brooklyn Bridge Walkway pedestrian only — No bikes!

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Way too many cars.

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Connect the two ends of long train systems to form a loop, like Tokyo’s!

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Plant green roofs on every flat roof and keep the city cool and biodiverse.

    You can increase the deposit fee for plastic and canned beverages so that money can made in recycling! Or, just put out 1,000s of recycling bins on the streets.

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Put entertainment on subway.

    -- Leo

    No more Central Park carts using fuel! Make them electric!

    Make it easier to start a small business.

    Make Landmark Status more flexible! (RIP 35 Cooper Sq)

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Give out rain barrels.

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Make all car horns as loud inside car as outside car.

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Put a premium on plastic water bottles and have portable water fountains like the one here at the Festival of Ideas.

    Reduce air conditioning in NYC subways.

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Make street art legal, to encourage it, to love it and to respect it. Let the people have creative control over their visual space.

    -- Ana Fisyak

    Eliminate plastic bags “we don’t need them except for the garbage can”

    -- Elisa Gonzalez-J

    More bike paths in Manhattan!

    -- Visitor at Festival of Ideas Streetfest

    Get more funding for online publication about urbanism in NYC.

    -- W. Martin

    Create edible landscaping.

    Buses and garbage trucks with flywheel-battery power

    enjoyable sidewalks/urban pockets that will make people want to experience a walkable city

    SIDEWALKS=ARTWALKS

    -- Elle

    More public nudity

    Utilize rooftops for greenspace.

    Create spaces of virtue. Whether it be a park or an office, every space should be designed and created with the intention benefiting the masses.

    Great!

    Few, vital, logical laws.
    Zoning and master planning + free market development.
    Decentralized and localize the agriculture system. Agriculture ecosystems utilizing innovative methods and systems, i.e.; green house aquaponics, roof top farms, park farms.
    Purpose green space for recreation and for ecological cleansing, flood management and water table replenishing.
    Break up major cities into many small dense nearly autonomous communities, to reduce need for transportation and infrastructure, and to provide close knit and diverse communities that are self reliant within the self sustainable city. Eliminate suburbia as we know it, and replace it with dense autonomous communities of garden homes and high density apartment housing within rural communities.
    Assist with the refocusing and creation of niche businesses such as major retailers altering their supply chain to utilize locally farmed produce, create business in place of yard care – yard farmers.
    Utilize waste and waste disposal energy, human waste-syngas, plastics eating microorganisms-bio fuels, geothermal, etc.
    Utilize both ancient wisdom and cutting edge design coupled with state of the art tech to design and construct buildings that require little to no energy.
    Cluster blocks together to eliminate space used by infrastructure.
    Revitalize education with a developmental approach, designed with the best aspects from all methods. Provide work incentives such as “trade” education programs, so that youth may see the benefits of education at an early age and may become economic contributors at an earlier age, boosting our economy, increasing number of high school and college graduates, reducing the welfare system which will in turn alleviate the tax payers burden and improve the quality of the communities.

    -- stephen

    talk to your neighbor in the subway ride

    balance in quality, not in quantity

    Encourage stronger partnerships between New York City’s public schools and community gardens. A high quality learning environment for students. A wider network of patronage for gardeners.

    Design everything in the city to be as quiet as possible. Having quiet at night to sleep is important for human health.

    NEED MORE TREES