Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time
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"Timely and important, a delightful, insightful, irreverent work . . . Should be required reading." ―The Christian Science Monitor
A Best Book of the Year according to Planetizen and the American Society of Landscape Architects
Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability.
Making downtown into a walkable, viable community is the essential fix for the
typical American city; it is eminently achievable and its benefits are manifold. Walk-
able City―bursting with sharp observations and key insights into how urban change
happens―lays out a practical, necessary, and inspiring vision for how to make American
cities great again.
people hunting for parking? Underpriced curb parking is no fairer than giving random discounts on other municipal services like water or electricity based upon who circles the block the longest, and just as counterproductive. A study of six different urban sites found that roughly a third of all traffic congestion was made up of people trying to find a parking spot. In one Los Angeles neighborhood, Westwood Village, it was twice that amount—and between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., an astounding 96 percent
taken Portland by storm and can also be found in Madison, Tucson, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and a handful of California cities. To create a bicycle boulevard, you take a street that is long enough to be of regional significance and hobble its intersections so that only bicycles can flow quickly from block to block. Residents can enter with their cars, but diverters at the cross-streets quickly free the street of cut-through traffic. Then, if you’re really serious, you time the signals at each
people on the street, and the superlative pedestrianism of Manhattan and Hong Kong suggests that inhumane, vortex-generating skyscrapers have little negative effect on street life. Indeed, it is essential to recognize that, in Manhattan, it is precisely the continuous presence of tall buildings along the avenues that allows them to support a continuous array of shopfronts for block after block after block. It is for this reason, among others, that while some urban designers rail against tall
technique can be practiced even more cheaply with surface parking lots, where a thin crust of wood-frame structures can conceal acres of tarmac. At Mashpee Commons, a strip mall on Cape Cod that was retrofitted into a new downtown, this feat is accomplished by tiny one-story shops, each about the size of a two-car garage. Enlightened developers like the ones at Mashpee know that hidden parking boosts retail sales and property values. Enlightened mayors like Joe Riley know that hidden parking
In Australia, maybe three, and in Atlanta, maybe two, because you’ve gone way, way farther and way, way faster but you haven’t been in an accessible place that allows a lot to happen. You’ve spent a lot of time sitting in traffic.”33 This discussion raises a larger theoretical question that scientists have just begun to take on: are there underlying universal rules that govern the success of a place? The theoretical physicists Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt believe so. They do not believe in