Reclaim The Streets (RTS) is a collective with a shared ideal of community ownership of public spaces. Participants characterize the collective as a resistance movement opposed to the dominance of corporate forces in globalization, and to the car as the dominant mode of transport.
“Before developing in New York, Reclaim the Streets was founded in London in the fall of 1991, at the beginning of a movement there to oppose road building. The group described themselves as being ‘FOR walking, cycling, and cheap or free public transport, and AGAINST cars, roads, and the system that pushes them. (Reclaim the Streets, London 1998a). From the start, RTS in London unified behind an ‘anticar’ banner that was not waved as prominently in New York. But even in London, the car was seen as symbolic of a larger problem.
We are basically about taking back public space from the enclosed private area. At its simplest it is an attack on cars as a principal agent of enclosure. It’s about reclaiming the streets as public inclusive space from the private exclusive use of the car. But we believe in this as a broader principle, taking back those things which have been enclosed within capitalist circulation and returning them to collective use as a commons (Jordan, 1998, 139-140).
From the start, RTS used its opposition to the car as a symbol of its broader opposition to the systems RTS groups around world variously identified as capitalism, neoliberalism, privatization, and the domination of corporations. Even in its earliest, primarily ecological focus, RTS identified capitalism as the cause of the symptoms it opposed.”
Benjamin Shepard, The Beach Beneath The Streets: Contesting New York City’s Public Spaces