When governments don’t build infrastructure, citizens usually complain, but can’t do much about it. They pressure public officials and protest against proposed projects, but that’s as far as citizen participation in city building usually goes. It’s reactive, not proactive.
However, this model of citizen participation is being rethought by citizens around the world. They are taking control over what happens in their cities. They are helping to build them, mostly with paint. Local groups all around the world are taking the initiative and are building the infrastructure that governments refuse or are slow to do.
One example of this type of action is Toronto’s Urban Repair Squad. This group specializes in painting bike lanes and bike boxes. Although their actions are illegal (and sometimes even reversed by the city government), they respond to a need for this type of infrastructure that isn’t being met. They even put out a manual with instructions on how to paint bike lanes youself that has inspired groups all over the world to do the same.