By Dom Nozzi
February 10, 2010
Town centers are fundamentally different in character, purpose, and objectives. Distances and setbacks are smaller. Speeds are more modest. There is more walking and less driving.
Therefore, design and development regulations should be calibrated so that town centers do not see the application of inappropriate suburban design.
For example, in town centers, in nearly all cases, residential single-family, residential multi-family, commercial and civic uses should all have on-street parking.
In a healthy town center, there are three design imperatives:
- Low speeds.
- Modest dimensions for streets, destination distances and building setbacks.
One of the most effective, low-cost ways to do that is to provide as much on-street parking in a town center as possible, for all land use categories.
As one moves out of the town center, design starts incrementally changing. In the first few rings outside of the town center, transit and bicycling become the imperative. Speeds increase and dimensions, distances, and setbacks are larger. Bike lanes become more appropriate and on-street parking becomes less appropriate.
In the more drivable outer suburban rings, cars become the design imperative. Speeds are relatively high, as are sizes. On-street parking is largely non-existent, and bike lanes become rather important and appropriate.