This timely, important book should be required reading for city planners – and anyone simply hoping for a more walkable downtown.
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He takes his reader on a stroll down Main Street, slaughtering the sacred cows of city planners and traffic engineers as he goes. Among the surprising claims he makes: Green zones are for the birds, and excess downtown parking is the proverbial kiss of death.Skip to next paragraph
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But Speck is wise enough to recognize that following his laws to the letter “would bankrupt most cities.” Sadly, he notes, “the universal application of walkability criteria is simply not in keeping with the way that cities actually work.” However, he suggests, his formula provides a place to start. And for cities needing something fast and cheap, he recommends a first step: “urban triage.” Specifically, fix the downtown. A city’s reputation rests on its downtown; it is “the rising tide that lifts all ships ... a little bit of great downtown can help push a whole city into the great category. That is the place to begin.”
“Walkable City” is timely and important, a delightful, insightful, irreverent work – a book designed to knock us out of complacency and make us aware of the simple but real possibilities. It should be required reading for any city planner, architectural designer, traffic engineer, and, need I say, hapless burgher, like yours truly, who pines for a more ingratiating downtown through which to walk.
Richard Horan is a novelist and nonfiction writer. His most recent book is “Harvest: An Adventure into the Heart of America’s Family Farms.”
10 STEPS OF WALKABILITY:
How to make America's cities more walkable, one step at a time
From: ‘Walkable City,’ by Jeff Speck
1. Put the cars in their place: Put an end to “autocentric” city planning.
2. Mix the uses: Residents should be able to work, shop, eat, drink, learn, recreate, convene, worship, heal, visit, celebrate, and sleep downtown.
3. Get the parking right: There should be less parking that costs more.
4. Let transit work: Make public transit more convenient and comfortable.
5. Protect the pedestrians: Shorter blocks, narrower traffic lanes, and two-way streets favor pedestrians.
6. Welcome bikes: Make cyclists safe and welcome.
7. Shape the spaces: Get the design right.
8. Plant trees: Judiciously planted trees confer numerous benefits.
9. Make friendly and unique faces: Features like awnings and outdoor dining are crowd pleasers.
10. Pick your winners: Be realistic about what will really attract.