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Transportation is Destiny: Design for Happy People, Not Happy Cars

by Dom Nozzi

The following is a summary of a talk I was invited to give at a PLAN-Boulder County forum on Friday, January 24. As a town and transportation planner, I cautioned Boulder not to put too much emphasis on easing car traffic flows—particularly by such conventional methods as adding a second turn lane at intersections or requiring a developer to provide too much car parking. I described the ingredients of a healthy, vibrant city, summarized how a seemingly beneficial city objective of reducing traffic congestion can often undermine important Boulder objectives, and offered a number of strategies that would help Boulder both properly manage transportation and promote its long-range goals.

A great city is compact, human scaled, has a slow speed center, and promotes gatherings of citizens that catalyze “synergistic interaction” (brilliant ideas and innovations, as the sum becomes greater than its parts). Most importantly, a quality city does exceptionally well in promoting “exchanges” of goods, services, and ideas, which is the most important role of a city, and is best promoted by the interaction that occurs through compact community design.

About 100 years ago, automakers, home builders, and oil companies (“the Sprawl Lobby”) started realizing that they could make lots of money by creating what has since become a self-perpetuating vicious cycle in communities. If communities could be convinced to ease the flow of car traffic by building enormous highways and parking lots (and subsidizing car travel by having everyone—not just motorists—pay for such roads, parking, and gasoline), huge amounts of money could be made selling cars, homes and gasoline. The process eventually was feeding on itself in a growing, self-perpetuating way, because the highways, parking and subsidies were forcing and otherwise encouraging a growing number of Americans to buy more and more cars, use more and more gasoline, and buy sprawling homes that were further and further from the town center. Why? Because the subsidized highways and gasoline were powerfully promoting community dispersal, high speeds, isolation, and an insatiable demand for larger highways and parking lots. Each of these factors were toxic to a city, led to government and household financial difficulties, destroyed in-town quality of life (which added to the desire to live in sprawl locations), and made travel by transit, bicycle or walking increasingly difficult and unlikely (an added inducement to buy more cars).

The inevitable result of the Sprawl Lobby efforts has been that cities throughout America are dying from the “Gigantism” disease.

The “Gigantism” Disease

One of the most important problems we face is that cars consume enormous amounts of space. On average, a person in a parked car takes up about 17 times more space than a person in a chair. And when moving, a motorist can take up to 100 times as much space as a person in a chair. Cities are Untitledseverely diminished by this level of wasteful use of land by cars—particularly in town centers (where space is so dear), and especially in communities such as Boulder, where land is so expensive.

Overemphasis on car travel breeds and spreads the gigantism “infection,” and promotes ruinously higher travel speeds. What happens when we combine the gigantism and high speeds with the “travel time budget” (humans tend to have a budget of about 1.1 hours of round-trip commuting travel each day)?

People demand larger highways and parking lots. Gigantic highways, overpasses, and asphalt seas of parking are necessary to accommodate the space-hogging, high-speed needs of the growing number of cars. This process dramatically increases the “habitat” for cars, and because such places are so utterly inhospitable to people, substantially shrinks the habitat for people.

Because it is so dangerous, unpleasant, and infeasible to travel on these monster highways by bicycle, walking, or transit (what economists call “The Barrier Effect”), an endlessly growing army of motorists and sprawl residents is thereby created, which, of course, is a financial bonanza for the Sprawl Lobby.

It is surprising and disappointing that Boulder has, on numerous occasions, shown symptoms of the gigantism disease (surprising because citizens and city staff are relatively well-informed on transportation issues). A leading concern in Boulder is the many intersections that have been expanded by installing double left turn lanes. Installing a single left turn lane historically resulted in a fair improvement in traffic flow, but when a second left turn lane is installed, intersections typically suffer from severely diminished returns. There is only a tiny increase in traffic accommodated (and often, this increase is short-lived) and this small benefit is offset by a huge required increase in walk time for crosswalks that are now very lengthy to cross on foot (which necessitates a very long “walk” phase for the crosswalk). Indeed, some traffic engineers or elected officials are so intolerant of the time-consuming long walk phase that many double-left turn intersections actually PROHIBIT pedestrian crossings by law.

These monster double left turn intersections destroy human scale and sense of place. They create a place-less, car-only intersection where walking and bicycling (and, indirectly, transit) trips are so difficult and unpleasant that more trips in the community are now by car, and less by walking, bicycling and transit. And those newly-induced car trips, despite the conventional wisdom, actually INCREASE greenhouse gas emissions (due to the induced increase in car trips).

Double left turn lanes (like big parking lots and five- or seven-lane highways) disperse housing, jobs, and shops in the community, as the intersection—at least briefly—is able to accommodate more regional car trips. Because the intersection has become so inhospitable, placeless and lacking in human scale, the double left turn repels any residences, shops, or offices from being located anywhere near the intersection, and thereby effectively prevents the intersection from ever evolving into a more walkable, compact, village-like setting.

The following chart shows that, because of the enormous space consumption caused by higher-speed car travel, land consumption rate increases are far out-pacing growth in community populations. For example, from 1950 to 1990, the St. Louis population grew by 35 percent. chartYet land consumption in St. Louis grew by 354 percent during that same period.

Given all of this, a centerpiece objective of the Boulder Transportation Master Plan (no more than 20 percent of road mileage is allowed to be congested) may not only be counterproductive in achieving many Boulder objectives, but may actually result in Boulder joining hands with the Sprawl Lobby.

The congestion reduction objective has a number of unintended, undesirable consequences. The objective tells Boulder that the highly desirable tactic of “road diets” (where travel lanes are removed to create a safer, more human-scaled street that can now install bike lanes, on-street parking, and wider sidewalks) are actually undesirable because they can increase congestion. The objective provides justification for looking upon a wider road, a bigger intersection, or a bigger parking lot as desirable, despite the well-documented fact that such gigantic facilities promote sprawl, car emissions, financial difficulties, higher taxes, and lower quality of life, among other detriments.

The objective also tells us that smaller, more affordable infill housing is undesirable—again because such housing can increase congestion.

The Shocking Revolution

The growing awareness of the problems associated with easing car travel (via such things as a congestion reduction objective) is leading to a shocking revolution across the nation. Florida, for example, now realizes that if new development is only allowed if “adequate” road capacity is available for the new development (which is based on “concurrency” rules in Florida’s Growth Management law), the state is powerfully promoting sprawl. Why? Because the available road capacity tends to only be found in sprawl locations. In-town locations, where new development tends to be much more desirable, is strongly discouraged by this Florida concurrency rule because in-town locations tend to have no available road capacity (due to existing, more dense development in town).

As an aside, “concurrency” is a rule that says new development is not allowed if it will lower service level standards adopted by the community. For example, standards might state that there must be at least 10 acres of parkland provided for every 1,000 residents. While concurrency is clearly a good idea for such things as parks and water supply and schools, it is counterproductive for roads.

The shocking revolution in Florida, then, is that the state is now allowing local governments to create “exception areas” for road congestion. If the community can show that it is providing adequate bicycle, pedestrian and transit facilities, the state will grant the local government the ability to create road exceptions so that the road congestion avoidance strategy brought by Florida’s road concurrency rule does not significantly encourage new sprawl and discourage in-town, infill development.

Similarly, California is now acknowledging the unintended, undesirable effects of past efforts to ensure that roads are “free-flowing” for car traffic. “Free flowing” car traffic tends to be measured with “level of service” (LOS) measures. Road LOS is a measure of traffic delay. An intersection (or road) where a car must wait for, say, three cycles of a traffic signal to be able to proceed through the intersection might be given an LOS rating of “F.” An intersection where a car can proceed through an intersection without such delay is given an LOS rating of “A.”

California now realizes that too often, building wider highways or stopping new development as a way to maintain free-flowing car traffic (LOS “A”) is substantially counterproductive. The state now realizes that maintaining or requiring easy, free-flowing car traffic increases greenhouse gas emissions (shocking, since the opposite was formerly believed), increases the number of car trips, and decreases the number of walking, bicycling and transit trips. Free-flowing road “LOS” measures are therefore now being phased out in California.

The “congestion reduction” objective in Boulder’s transportation plan is, in effect, a “happy cars” objective that equates easy car travel with quality of life and sustainability. One important reason why this “happy cars” objective is counterproductive is that cars and people have dramatically different needs and desires—needs and desires that are significantly and frequently in conflict. For example, designing shopping for happy people means the creation of smaller, human-scaled settings where buildings rather than parking lots are placed next to the streetside sidewalk. Where streets are only two or three lanes wide and designed for slow-speed car travel. Where street trees hug the street.

Designing shopping for happy cars, by strong contrast, requires huge car-scaled dimensions. Giant asphalt parking lots are placed between the now giant retail store and the street, which invites easy car parking (but loss of human scale, sense of place, and ease of walking). Streets become what Chuck Marohn calls “stroads”:  5- or 7-lane monster roads intended for dangerous, inhospitable high-speeds. They are roads where streets belong, but their big size and high speeds make them more like roads. Street trees are frequently incompatible with happy cars, as engineers fear cars might crash into them.

Again, this comparison shows that by promoting “happy cars,” Boulder’s congestion reduction objective is undermining its important quality of life and city-building objectives.

Indeed, Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, Columbia, once stated that “a city can be friendly to people or it can be friendly to cars, but it can’t be both.” Boulder’s congestion reduction objective is in conflict with this essential truth.

Fortunately, congestion regulates itself if we let it. Congestion will persuade some to drive at non-rush hour times, or take less congested routes, or travel by walking, bicycling, or transit. Congestion therefore does not inexorably lead to gridlock if we don’t widen a road or intersection, because some car trips (the “lower-value” trips) do not occur. Many of those discouraged trips are foregone because of the “time tax” imposed by the congestion.

But widening a road (or, in Boulder’s case, adding a second left-turn lane) short-circuits this self-regulation. A widened road or a double-left turn lane intersection induces new car trips because the road/intersection is now (briefly) less congested. The lower congestion encourages formerly discouraged car trips to now use the route during rush hour. Car trips that used different routes to avoid the congestion now converge back on the less congested route. And some get back in their cars after a period of walking, bicycling or using transit.

The process is very much like the infamous Soviet bread lines. The Soviets wanted to reduce the extremely long lines of people waiting for free bread. Their counterproductive “solution” was to make more free bread. But more free bread just induced more people to line up for bread. Likewise, the conventional American solution to traffic congestion is to make more free space for cars (widening the road or adding a second turn lane). The result is the same, as the bigger roads and intersections inevitably induce more car trips on those routes. The efficient and effective solution, as any first-year economics student will point out, is to NOT make more free bread or wider, free-to-use roads or second turn lanes. The solution is to price the bread and the car routes so that they are used more efficiently (and not wastefully by low-value bread consumers or car travelers). Or, to let a moderate level of congestion discourage low-value rush hour trips.

Given all of this, widening a road or adding a second left-turn lane to solve congestion is like loosening one’s belt to solve obesity. Similarly, despite conventional wisdom, car traffic does not behave like water flowing through a pipe (i.e., flowing easier if the pipe is expanded in size). Car traffic, instead, behaves like a gas. It expands to fill the available, increased volume provided.

Boulder’s Overriding Objectives

Boulder (and PLAN-Boulder County) has outlined key community objectives.

1. One is higher quality of life and more happiness. But counterproductively, happy cars lower quality of life due to clashing values and needs.

2. Another objective is for a more compact, walkable, vibrant city. Unfortunately, over-emphasizing cars means more sprawl.

3. An objective that is much talked about in the area is more affordability. By inducing more car dependence via easier car travel, the congestion reduction objective undermines the affordability objective by making Boulder less affordable (more on that later).

4. Given the growing concern for global warming, Boulder is placing more emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Easing traffic congestion, however, induces new car traffic, which increases car emissions.

5. Boulder and PLAN-Boulder County seek more travel (and lifestyle) choices. But the congestion reduction objective in Boulder’s plan is again undercutting other objectives because it leads to bigger car infrastructure (bigger roads and intersections), thereby reducing travel and lifestyle choices.

As shown above, then, Boulder’s congestion reduction objective undermines each of these five essential community objectives.

Oops.

Conventional methods of reducing congestion include wider roads, bigger parking lots, one-way streets, and huge intersections. These tactics are a “win-lose” proposition. While they can reduce congestion (briefly), they also cause a loss of human scale and charm; a loss of social gathering; sprawling dispersal; more car dependence and less bicycling, walking, transit; higher taxes; economic woes (for government, shops and households); a decline in public health; and more air pollution.

By striking contrast, other less commonly used but much more beneficial transportation tactics are “win-win” propositions. Some of these tactics include road diets, designing streets for slower speeds, and designing for travel and lifestyle choices. They can result in:

  • More parking spaces
  • More civic pride (induced by human scale)
  • More social gathering
  • A more compact and vibrant community
  • Less car dependence and more bicycling, walking, and transit
  • Lower taxes
  • Economic health (for both government and households)
  • Improvement in public health
  • Less air pollution

If we can’t get rid of congestion, what CAN we do? We can create alternatives so that those who are unwilling to tolerate the congestion can find ways to avoid it. Congestion can be better avoided if we create more housing near jobs, shops, and culture. Doing this allows more people to have better, more feasible ways to travel without a car. We can also create more travel routes, so that the congested routes are not the only routes to our destinations. Some of us can be given more flexible work schedules to shift our work hours away from rush hour. And some of us can be given increased opportunities to telecommute (work from home).

How Can We Design Transportation to Achieve a Better Destiny?

An important way to start Boulder on a better destiny for the city is to revisit the “No more than 20 percent congested road miles” objective in the Boulder transportation master plan. Some possibilities: adopt a “level of service standard” not for cars, but for bicycle, walking and transit travel; “Level of service” standards for cars is becoming outdated because it is being increasingly seen as counterproductive, as described earlier. Other alternatives to the “congestion” objective is to have a target of controlling or reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) community-wide; or set a goal of minimizing trip generation by individual new developments in the city.

Another option is to keep the congestion objective, but create “exception” areas where the congestion rule does not apply. Those exception areas would be places where Boulder seeks to encourage new development.

Boulder needs to ensure that the community land development and transportation design tactics are appropriately calibrated within each “transect zone” of the community. (The “transect” principle identifies a transition from urban to rural, whereby the town center is more compact, formal, low-speed, and walkable; the suburbs are more dispersed, informal, higher-speed, and drivable; and the rural areas most remote from the town center are more intended for a farming and conservation lifestyle. Development regulations and transportation designs are calibrated so that the differing lifestyle and travel objectives of each zone are best achieved.) However, the difficulty with the transect principle in places like Boulder is that the demand for compact, walkable lifestyles and travel choices is much higher than the supply of such places in Boulder. There is, in other words, a large mismatch. By contrast, the supply of suburban, drivable areas is quite high. To correct this imbalance, Boulder should strive to create a larger supply of compact, walkable places similar to Pearl Street Mall, the Boulder town center, and even the CU campus. Opportunities now being discussed are the creation of new, compact villages and town centers at places such as street intersections outside of the Boulder town center.

As an aside, the community transect concept informs us that in the town center, “more is better.” That is, the lifestyle being sought in the community center is one where more shops, more offices, and more housing enhances the lifestyle, as this more proximate, mixed, compact layout of land uses provides the thriving, sociable, convenient, vibrant, 24-hour ambience that many seeking the walkable lifestyle want more of.

By contrast, in the more drivable suburbs, “more is less.” That is, the drivable lifestyle is enhanced in quality when there is less density, less development, more dispersal, and more isolation of houses from shops and offices. The ambience generally desired is more quiet and private.

While town center housing is increasingly expensive compared to the suburbs—particularly in cities such as Boulder—such in-town housing provides significant cost savings for transportation. Because such a housing location provides so many travel choices beyond car travel, many households find they can own two cars instead of three or one car instead of two. And each car that a household can “shed” due to the richness of travel choices provides more household income that can be directed to housing expenses such as a mortgage or rent. Today, the average car costs about $9,000 per year to own and operate. In places that are compact and walkable, that $9,000 (or $18,000) per year can be devoted to housing, thereby improving affordability.

In addition to providing for the full range of housing and travel choices, Boulder can better achieve its objectives through road diets, where travel lanes are removed and more space is provided for such things as bike lanes or sidewalks or transit. Road diets are increasingly used throughout the nation—particularly converting roads from four lanes to three. Up to about 25,000 vehicle trips per day on the road, a road that is “dieted” to, say, three lanes carries about as much traffic as a four-lane road. This is mostly due to the fact that the inside lanes of a four-laner frequently must act as turn lanes for cars waiting to make a left turn. Four-lane roads are less desirable than three-lane streets because they induce more car trips and reduce bicycle, walking and transit trips. Compared to three-lane streets, four-lane roads result in more speeding traffic. As a result, four-laners create a higher crash rate than three-lane streets. Finally, because the road-diet (3)three-lane street is more human-scaled, pleasant, lower-speed, and thereby place-making, a three-lane street is better than a four-lane street for shops. The three-lane street becomes a place to drive TO, rather than drive THROUGH (as is the case with a four-lane street).

If Boulder seeks to be transformative with transportation—that is, if the city seeks to significantly shift car trips to walking, bicycling and transit trips (rather than the relatively modest shifts the city has achieved in the past)—it must recognize that it is NOT about providing more bike paths, sidewalks, or transit service. It is about taking away road and parking space from cars, and taking away subsidies for car travel.

Another transportation tactic Boulder should pursue to achieve a better destiny is to unbundle the price of parking from the price of housing. People who own less (or no) cars should have the choice of opting for more affordable housing—housing that does not include the very expensive cost of provided parking. Currently, little or no housing in Boulder provides the buyer or renter the option of having lower cost housing payments by choosing not to pay for parking. Particularly in a place like Boulder, where land values are so high, even housing intended to be relatively affordable is more costly than it needs to be because the land needed for parking adds a large cost to the housing price. Indeed, by requiring the home buyer or renter to pay more for parking, bundled parking price creates a financial incentive for owning and using more cars than would have otherwise been the case.

Boulder should also strive to provide parking more efficiently by pricing more parking. Too much parking in Boulder is both abundant and free. Less parking would be needed in the city (which would make the city more affordable, by the way) if it were efficiently priced. Donald Shoup recommends, for example, that parking meters be priced to ensure that in general, 2 or 3 parking spaces will be vacant on each block.

Efficient parking methods that could be used more often in Boulder include allowing shops and offices and churches to share their parking. This opportunity is particularly available when different land uses (say churches and shops) don’t share the same hours of operation. Again, sharing more parking reduces the amount of parking needed in the city, which makes the city more compact, walkable, enjoyable and active.

Like shared parking, leased parking allows for a reduction in parking needed. If Boulder, for example, owns a parking garage, some of the spaces can be leased to nearby offices, shops, or housing so that those particular land uses do not need to create their own parking.

Finally, a relatively easy and quick way for Boulder to beneficially reform and make more efficient its parking is to revise its parking regulations so that “minimum parking” is converted to “MAXIMUM parking.” Minimum parking rules, required throughout Boulder, are the conventional and increasingly outmoded way to regulate parking. They tell the developer that at least “X” amount of parking spaces must be provided for every “Y” square feet of building. This rule almost always requires the developer to provide excessive, very expensive parking, in large part because it is based on “worst case scenario” parking “needs.” That is, sufficient parking must be provided so that there will be enough on the busiest single day of the year (often the weekend after Thanksgiving). Such a provision means that for the other 364 days of the year, a large number of parking spaces sit empty, a very costly proposition.

In contrast, maximum parking rules tell the developer that there is an upper limit to the number of spaces that can be provided. This works much better for the community and the business because the business is better able to choose how much parking it needs and can finance. Since financial institutions that provide financing for new developments typically require the developer to provide the conventional (read: excessive) amounts of parking as a condition for obtaining a development loan, the big danger for communities in nearly all cases is that TOO MUCH parking will be provided rather than too little. The result of setting “maximum” instead of “minimum” parking rules is that excessive, worst case scenario parking developments become much more rare.

The reform of parking is easy: simply convert the existing minimum parking specifications to maximum parking standards (“at least 3 spaces per 1,000 square feet” becomes “no more than 3 spaces per 1,000 square feet). An incremental approach to this conversion is to apply maximum parking rules in those places that are already rich in travel choices, such as the Boulder town center.

Again, what will Boulder’s destiny be? As the preceding discussion sought to demonstrate, much of that destiny will be shaped by transportation decisions.

Will destiny be shaped by striving for happy people and happy places for people? Or will it be shaped by opting for the conventional, downwardly-spiraling effort of seeking easy car travel (and thereby unpleasant places where only a car can be happy – such as huge highways or parking lots)?

Will Boulder, in other words, retain or otherwise promote place-less conventional shopping centers full of deadening parking, car-only travel, lack of human interaction, and isolation? Or will the city move away from car-happy objectives such as the congestion reduction policy, and instead move toward a people-friendly future rich in sociability, pride in community, travel choices, sustainability, place-making and human scale?

An example of these contrasting destinies is Pearl Street. West Pearl features the charm and human scale we built historically. West Pearl Street exemplifies a lovable, walkable, calm, safe and inviting ambience where car speeds are slower, the street is more narrow, and the shops—by being pulled up to the streetside sidewalk—help form a comfortable sense of enclosure that activates the street and feels comfortable to walk. The shops tend to be smaller—more neighborhood-scaled.

East Pearl Street near 28th Street is starkly different. There, the street is a “stroad,” because it is an overly wide road that should be a more narrow, lower-speed street. Shops are pulled back long distances from the street. The street here is fronted not by interesting shop fronts but enormous seas of asphalt parking. The layout is car-scaled. The setting is hostile, unpleasant, unsafe, stressful and uninviting. The shops tend to be “Big Box” retail, and serve a regional “consumershed.” There is “no there there.”

East Pearl Street was built more recently by professional planners and engineers who have advanced degrees that far exceed the professionalism and education of those who designed the more lovable West Pearl Street. Where has the charm gone? Why have our streets become less pleasant in more recent years (by better trained and better educated designers, I might add)? Is it perhaps related to our more expensive and sophisticated efforts to ease car traffic and reduce congestion?

There is an inverse relationship between congestion and such measures as vehicle miles traveled and gas consumption. At the community level—despite the conventional wisdom—as congestion increases, vehicle miles traveled, gas consumption, air emissions DECREASE. And as conventional efforts to reduce congestion intensify, quality of life and sustainability also decrease.

Again, is Boulder aligning itself with the Sprawl Lobby by maintaining an objective of easing traffic flow – by striving to reduce congestion?

 

On Controlling Size

David Mohney reminds us that the first task of the urban designer is to control size. This not only pertains to the essential need to keep streets, building setbacks, and community dispersal modest in size. It also pertains to the highly important need to insist on controlling the size of service and delivery trucks. Over-sized trucks in Boulder lead the city down a ruinous path, as street and intersection dimensions are typically driven by the “design vehicle.” When trucks are relatively large, excessive truck size becomes the “design vehicle” which ends up driving the dimensions of city streets. A healthy city should be designed for human scale and safety, not for the needs of huge trucks. Indeed, because motor vehicles consume so much space, a sign of a healthy, well-designed community is that drivers of vehicles should feel inconvenienced. If driving vehicles feels comfortable, it is a signal that we have over-designed streets and allocated such excessive spaces that we have lost human scale and safety.

A proposal for human-scaled streets: in Boulder’s town center, no street should be larger than three lanes in size. Outside the town center, no street should be larger than five lanes in size. Anything more exceeds the human scaling needed for a pleasant, safe, sustainable community.

It is time to return to the timeless tradition of designing to make people happy, not cars. Boulder needs to start by revisiting its congestion reduction objective, putting a number of its roads on a “road diet,” and taking steps to make the provision of parking more efficient and conducive to a healthy city.

__________________________________

 More about the author

 Mr. Nozzi was a senior planner for Gainesville FL for 20 years, and wrote that city’s long-range transportation plan. He also administered Boulder’s growth rate control law in the mid-90s. He is currently a member of the Boulder Transportation Advisory Board.

 Studies Demonstrating Induced Traffic and Car Emission Increases

Below is a sampling of references to studies describing how new car trips are induced by easier car travel, and how car emissions increase as a result.

http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/articles/hwyemis.asp

http://www.vtpi.org/gentraf.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_demand

http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/1993/04/18/does-free-flowing-car-traffic-reduce-fuel-consumption-and-air-pollution/

TØI (2009), Does Road Improvement Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions?, Institute of Transport Economics (TØI), Norwegian Centre for Transport Research (www.toi.no); summary at www.toi.no/getfile.php/Publikasjoner/T%D8I%20rapporter/2009/1027-2009/Sum-1027-2009.pdf

Robert Noland and Mohammed A. Quddus (2006), “Flow Improvements and Vehicle Emissions: Effects of Trip Generation and Emission Control Technology,” Transportation Research D, Vol. 11 (www.elsevier.com/locate/trd), pp. 1-14; also see

www.cts.cv.ic.ac.uk/documents/publications/iccts00249.pdf

Clark Williams-Derry (2007), Increases In Greenhouse-Gas Emissions From Highway-Widening Projects, Sightline Institute (www.sightline.org); at

www.sightline.org/research/energy/res_pubs/analysis-ghg-roads

TRB (1995), Expanding Metropolitan Highways: Implications for Air Quality and Energy Use, Committee for Study of Impacts of Highway Capacity Improvements on Air Quality and Energy Consumption, Transportation Research Board, Special Report #345 (www.trb.org)

D. Shefer & P. Rietvald (1997), “Congestion and Safety on Highways: Towards an Analytical Model,” Urban Studies, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 679-692.

Alison Cassady, Tony Dutzik and Emily Figdor (2004). More Highways, More Pollution: Road Building and Air Pollution in America’s Cities, U.S. PIRG Education Fund (www.uspirg.org).

http://www.opr.ca.gov/docs/PreliminaryEvaluationTransportationMetrics.pdf

 

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Filed under Bicycling, Economics, Energy, Environment, Miscellaneous, Peak Oil, Politics, Road Diet, Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design, Walking

Incrementally Reducing Excessive Car Use

By Dom Nozzi

Recently, a colleague and friend of mine noted that he felt that a new residential development proposed for my compact, walkable, historic neighborhood should provide more parking than would be offered in my vision (I recommended that the new development only provide metered on-street parking, and no off-street parking). He indicated that if he were buying at that location, he would want at least one garage space (but wouldn’t want it on the front of the house). He added that alley garages are good compromises, presuming there are alleys. Overall, he agreed with my position about reducing the excessive American pampering of car use as a long-term strategy. His reservation was that in the near term, during the transition to walkable places, “97 percent of us are stuck needing cars, and alienating 97 percent of potential buyers is a problem.” I responded by pointing out that with regard to metered parking, I agree with parking guru Donald Shoup (author of the influential, must-read book The High Cost of Free Parking): For both new and existing residential developments, install parking meters that are free to use by the adjacent residents. Because the meter revenue can (and should) be spent only for improvements to that vicinity, residents would have a choice: Either use those spaces and lose revenue that would have otherwise been used to improve their neighborhood, or don’t use those spaces and increase that neighborhood improvement revenue. I told him that I agreed with him that one alley-loaded garage space is acceptable, and that front-of-house off-street parking is not. I apologized for the fact that my comments sometimes seem, undiplomatically, so blatantly “anti-car.” It is not my intent to “get rid of all cars” or to alienate those who must use a car, I told him. I fully understand that most of us must have the option of using a car. I also understand that transitioning to a world of less excessive car use needs to be incremental. I therefore favor price signals and compactness. Neither of those tactics prohibit cars. But pricing car use and car storage adds equity and signals to the motorist that the car has significant negative impacts (those impacts are mostly hidden in the US because we have over-allocated space to cars and have underpriced car use). Compactness is a companion tactic that adds a needed inconvenience signal. Again, the option of using a car is maintained, but the increased inconvenience (from tighter parking or more narrow streets and roads) sends another needed signal to the motorist: In this case, that the motorist (at least in a town center) is in a PEOPLE habitat (and should therefore feel somewhat inconvenienced and uncomfortable). It is in the drivable suburbs where it becomes more appropriate for the motorist to feel convenienced and comfortable. I reiterate: My suggestions retain the option to use a car. But I believe my approach can incrementally move us in the direction of providing a needed wider range of lifestyle and travel choices. The status quo of underpriced, convenienced cars in town centers undercuts the important need to provide more and better lifestyle and travel choices for those who seek a more walkable lifestyle. Yes, my tactics would be politically unpopular (and perhaps unpopular in some of our housing markets as well). But I know of no other effective ways to engage in what I believe is the essential task of creating more and better lifestyle and travel choices. The good news is that the approaches I support ARE working successfully elsewhere, so we know it is not impossible. Shoup’s book, The High Cost of Free Parking, is a book that I highly recommend. It is the best book I’ve ever read about planning in America. It is telling that the book contains so many powerful, important messages that many professional planners and architects are highly respectful of his work, and he is regularly hired throughout the nation to consult on parking problems. I told my friend that I was puzzled by his noticeable disdain for pricing parking, and his calling it “punishing drivers.” Punishing? Really? Is it “punishing to charge people to rent a hotel room, or should staying in a hotel room be free? What about those priced lockers at airports and ski resorts? Is it punishment to charge people to use those? Should we give rooms and lockers (and real estate) to people for free if those people are poor? (to avoid “Lexus” hotel rooms and “Lexus” lockers – in reference to his disparagingly calling toll lanes “Lexus” lanes) I asked my friend if he disagreed when Shoup points out that “free” parking is not free? Is there a way, I asked, to avoid full parking lots and an absence of available on-street parking other than pricing it? The only ways I know of other than pricing are building WAY too much parking so that you have a lunar landscape of endless parking (and kill the community in the process). Or you keep residential densities and commercial intensities at very low cow town levels. How do we avoid congestion on major congested roads in Colorado without tolling them, I asked. We have known for several decades that road widening is bankrupting and counterproductive (and is like solving obesity by loosening your belt). Sure, it is easier for the rich to pay for tolls than the middle class. But isn’t that true with all goods and services in our society? Does it reward the rich and punish the middle class (who have no choice but to use utilities) to charge a price to use electricity or water? Or should those be free so that we don’t have Lexus Sewers? I’m fairly sure that even the middle class would much prefer to drive on uncongested major roads in Colorado by paying a “punishing” $1.50 than to sit in gridlock on those highways for free. I did that for years when I lived in Richmond VA, and was happy to pay the toll in exchange for having uncongested urban highways, even though I was unemployed there and hardly even had a middle class income. Shoup makes an essential point that those of us who advocate for much higher densities should be fully aware of. That the provision of excessive provision of parking (which is inevitable when the parking is free and the intent is to avoid parking congestion) will utterly prevent the provision of higher residential densities. Counterproductively, most all local governments require enormous amounts of parking — parking required by land development codes. Again, this is possibly the most powerful way local governments establish and maintain low residential and commercial densities. Shoup correctly notes that it is impossible to create walkable densities when conventional parking (read: excessive) standards are used. He rightly blasts the great many new urbanists who don’t “get it” regarding parking. New urbanists who insist on excessive, suburban and free parking supply in many developments. I believe parking is the biggest blind spot that many new urbanists have. Therefore, “fixing the zoning” to allow higher residential densities is not our first task, despite what my friend suggested as a solution. We could have the best in compact, walkable, higher density zoning, but if the zoning is coupled with conventional parking requirements, that higher density zoning has a hidden consequence: It may look like it will deliver higher densities on paper, but when coupled with the parking rules, one finds that the developer typically cannot get anywhere near the allowable density because so much of the site must consist of parking. Side note for libertarians: It is socialist, top-down, centralized government planning to have parking be required by law. Instead, libertarians should be leading the charge to eliminate government-mandated parking and replace it with parking maximums. This does two things: It allows the private sector to decide on its own how much parking to provide (rather than being forced to provide at least X number of spaces per square foot of building), and rightfully inverts the standard parking rule by calling for a MAXIMUM. Why is it proper for government to have a maximum? Because constitutionally, government laws must promote the health, safety and welfare, and a very important way governments can do that is by not allowing people to install excessive amounts of parking (ie, parking that substantially reduces densities – see above – and parking that harms quality of life, in part by establishing asphalt, gap-toothed moonscapes that kill the agglomeration economies necessary for a healthy town center economy, and dramatically reduces walking, bicycling and transit). The big problem in a world of underpriced gas and excessive/underpriced roads is the provision of too much parking, not too little (both underpriced gas and underpriced/overprovided roads artificially induce extremely high levels of car use, which induces excessive parking demand). While I’m one of those who desires pricing car use (punishing them?), I strongly object when my neighbors attack traffic congestion. Any city worth its salt, I say, has congestion. Why? Because cars take up an enormous amount of space, which means only a few drivers are needed to congest a road or a parking lot. If your road or parking lot is not congested, then, we’ve got “ghost town” problems. I also strongly object when neighbors in my compact, walkable, town center neighborhood attack new development as being “too dense.” One key thing I’ve learned in the profession of town and transportation planning is that “happy cars” MUST have low densities to be happy. Cars are a huge pain in the ass – inevitably – when there is any level of density, or any amount of pleasing, charming, attractive walkablility. You can have happy cars or walkable densities, but you can’t have both. _________________________________________________ Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life. Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com 50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Road-Ruin-Introduction-Sprawl-Cure/dp/0275981290 My Adventures blog http://domnozziadventures.wordpress.com/ Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog http://domdangerous.wordpress.com/ My Town & Transportation Planning website http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/ My Plan B blog https://domz60.wordpress.com/ My Facebook profile http://www.facebook.com/dom.nozzi My YouTube video library http://www.youtube.com/user/dnozzi My Picasa Photo library https://picasaweb.google.com/105049746337657914534 My Author spotlight http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/domatwalkablestreetsdotcom

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Ingredients of a Walkable Street

athensga

By Dom Nozzi

How does a community create “walkable” streets? Streets that feels safe for all— particularly for seniors and children? Streets that are sociable due to large numbers of pedestrian users? Streets that are richly interesting? Streets that provide comfort? Streets that breed a strong sense of civic pride?

 

There are a number of essential ingredients that a community can (and sometimes must) use to craft and sustain a walkable street.

 

Convivial Concentration of Pedestrians. First and foremost, a walkable street must contain relatively large numbers of (preferably friendly) pedestrians. This obvious ingredient would go without saying, except for the fact that there are many who believe that various physical street design features are sufficient to create walkability. Actually, even the best-designed streets are not truly walkable if few walk them. On the other hand, even a poorly-designed street (in the physical sense) can be memorably walkable if it contains large numbers of pedestrians. Very little is more attractive and enjoyable to most humans—an inherently sociable species—than a vibrant, festive place filled with happy, friendly people.dublin-ped-st

This partly explains the overwhelming popularity of street festivals and public markets that are well known in their ability to create and sustain such gatherings.

 

Residential Densities. In order for a street to draw large numbers of pedestrians, large concentrations of people must either live within walking distance of the street, or the street needs to be a connecting conduit between two (or more) highly attractive destinations—destinations that are no more than, say, 3 to 5 blocks from each other. For example, a major university campus linked by a Main Street to a healthy downtown.

 

Human-Scaled Dimensions. People tend to feel most comfortable and safe when they are in “human-scaled” spaces. That is, spaces that do not dwarf them, make them feel insignificant, or over-exposed. Crucially, this means that horizontal and vertical dimensions of the surrounding physical elements of a street are relatively modest in size. In general, this means that streets are no more than two or three lanes wide. In the more urban areas of a town, buildings are pulled up to and abutting street-side sidewalks, and front porches are within “conversational distance” of sidewalks. Surface parking lots are tucked behind buildings and walls. Street lights are no more than about 20 feet tall (modest street light structures effectively establish a romantic ambience). The urban fabric is un-interrupted by gap-tooth parking lots. Instead, a continuous street wall is maintained. Buildings tend to be no greater than five stories, such as is found in Paris. Note, however, that buildings along a walkable street should generally be at least two stories in height in order to more effectively create the pleasing sense of enclosure. And to increase opportunities along the street for vertical mixed use buildings in which a first floor is occupied by an office or store, and above stories are occupied by a residence.

charming-street-in-phillyHuman-scaled streets create the overwhelmingly pleasant feeling of being within an “outdoor room.” And, as a result, creating that all-important “sense of place.”

 

Active and Diverse Retail. An essential ingredient for a street to be walkable in the more urban area of a town is for the street to be lined with a rich collection of healthy, diverse, local retail establishments. Such an assemblage of enterprises ensures people that strolling down such a street will nearly always reward one with a fascinating cornucopia of sights, smells, sounds and potentially satisfying purchases—no matter how often the street is walked.

 

Traffic-Calming. For retail establishments and residences along a street to be healthy, and for pedestrians to feel comfortable, a walkable street nearly always must contain relatively low-speed motor vehicle travel. The most important way to provide such modest, comfortable speeds is to provide ample on-street parking, which not only slows cars but creates an extremely healthy, safe buffer between the pedestrian and moving motor vehicles. To calm motor vehicle speeds, it is also important that the street be no more than two or three lanes (ideally two travel lanes with “turn pockets”). Travel lanes should be no more than 10 or 11 feet wide. A prominent canopy of street trees and buildings pulled up to the sidewalk also create a moderating influence on motor vehicle speeds. A common mistake is to assume that the ideal form of traffic calming or creation of a walkable street is to create a “pedestrian mall,” a pedestrian-only street where motor vehicles are prohibited. However, such malls have nearly always failed in America. The lack of sufficient, nearby residential densities and the cultural dis-inclination to walk or bicycle means that the well-intentioned effort to establish such car-free areas typically (but not always) creates a “ghost-town” atmosphere in which there is so little pedestrian activity that the mall seems abandoned and vacant. Often, such malls end up being so little used that retail along the mall quickly dies from lack of patrons, and many cities that established car-free areas have converted them back to once again allow car travel.

The key is not to ban car travel on a street intended to be walkable, but to design the street in such a way as to obligate motorists to drive slowly and attentively.

 

24-Hour Activity. A walkable street must be alive day and night, instead of closing down at 5 pm. 24-hour streets tend to be not only more interesting and fun, but also much safer due to the benefits of “citizen surveillance” and “eyes on the street.” Again, 24-hour activity is promoted by the development of relatively high residential densities within the walkable catchment area of the street. Residences provide after-hours pedestrian activity as residents will walk to stores, services, culture, parks, and the homes of friends and family throughout the day and night. Studies by the nation’s leading investment indicator firms have shown over and over again that “24-hour” cities harbor the most healthy, profitable investment opportunities. Businesses and residences tend to thrive in such cities, which are seen as hip, cutting edge, exciting (yet safe) places to be for what Richard Florida calls the “Creative Class.” Some cities find it useful to control and restrict the percentage of buildings along a street intended to be walkable by limiting the number of offices along the street, since offices tend to be closed (and therefore deadening) after 5 pm.outdoor-cafe-at-night

 

Narrow Lots. An important way to create a lively, exciting and interesting street life is to establish relatively narrow property widths along the sidewalk. Doing so increases the frequency of doors that enliven the street, as well as windows and other elements essential to an enjoyable pedestrian experience.

 

Weather Protection. For comfort in hot climates or rainy climates, it is important on more urban sidewalks to provide awnings or colonnades on the front facades of buildings along the sidewalk. Another extremely important element is a canopy of tall, formally-aligned, same-species street trees overhanging the street and sidewalk (and limbed up so as not to obscure the view of retail building facades).

 

Wide Sidewalks. It goes without saying that a walkable street should provide sufficiently wide sidewalks. In general, such sidewalks should range from 8 to 20 feet in width, depending on the pedestrian volumes expected. Note that there is too much of a good thing when it comes to sidewalks. Overly wide sidewalks can be just as undesirable as sidewalks that are too narrow, because wide sidewalks that carry only a handful of pedestrians creates the undesirable sense that the area is not very active or alive, whereas a narrower sidewalk with the same modest number of pedestrians can seem “bustling with life.” Therefore, it is important that sidewalks use a width that corresponds to expected pedestrian use along the street-striking a balance between pedestrian comfort and the need to create a lively ambience even when there are not enormous numbers of pedestrians.

 

Unobtrusive Equipment. Trash dumpsters near (or on) sidewalks tend to create an unsightly and often smelly character for the sidewalk, and send the message that the sidewalks and public realm are disregarded—and that pedestrians are therefore not respected. For these reasons, a walkable street keeps dumpsters remote from public, streetside sidewalks, or has dumpsters use compatible, attractive screening. Similarly, outdoor mechanical equipment (such as heating and air conditioning equipment) can create an unattractive, noisy ambience for a public sidewalk. Walkable streets keep this equipment on building roofs or on the side or rear of buildings so that they are remote from public sidewalks.

A powerful mechanism for keeping unsightly, obtrusive equipment away from the public sidewalk is the alley behind buildings, where garbage and utilities can be inconspicuously placed. Walkable streets therefore tend to feature alleys.

 

Active Building Fronts. Increasingly, streets are neglected and degraded by buildings that turn their back to the street. On a walkable street, the fronts of buildings face the streetside sidewalk. Having doors and ample windows facing the street creates visual interest for the pedestrian, and energizes the street by providing a view of the inside of the building and having pedestrians enter and exit the building onto the sidewalk. Doors facing the street substantially reduce pedestrian walking distances.

Likewise, walkable streets feature residences with front porches, where porch occupants can interact with those on the sidewalk, and where pedestrians can enjoy seeing a home that sends a walkable, friendly character to the public realm, even when the porch is unoccupied. To be an active, interesting street, buildings along a walkable street have very little in the way of blank walls (which creates monotony and reduces security). Garages on walkable streets are recessed to avoid conveying the unpleasant message that a car, not people, lives here.

 

Modest Turn Radii and Crossing Distances. An important way to create safety and human-scaled dimensions is to create a street which has modest turn radii at street and driveway intersections. Small “corner curves” slow down the speed of turning motor vehicles, and can substantially reduce pedestrian crossing distances. In addition to the value of small turn radii, features such as landscape islands, “bulb-outs” and landscaped (or hardscaped) street medians can provide a street with attractive features and significant safety increases for the pedestrian crossing a street. Not only does such street landscaping improve the visual appeal of a street, but they also tend to slow down motor vehicles and provide a refuge area for the crossing pedestrian.

 

Proximity. For a street to be truly walkable, destinations from residences to places of work, school, parks, and shopping need to be in close proximity (no more than approximately one-quarter mile from homes). Note that a useful way to reduce walking distances is, when possible and appropriate, to align sidewalks diagonally. Proximity strongly promotes walking trips, which tends to increase pedestrian volumes on sidewalks, thereby creating a safer, friendlier, more enjoyable sidewalk ambience.

Walkable streets also tend to contain what Ray Oldenberg calls “Third Places.” Third places are typically corner pubs, groceries, post offices or other facilities where neighborhood residents frequently run into each other and interactively chat or wave hello. They build neighborhood bonds and friendships, and their ability to act as “social condensers” promotes sociability, familiarity and trust.

 

Short Block Lengths. Block lengths on a street must be short to create modest walking distances. Generally, a block should be no more than 500 feet in length-preferably 200 to 300 feet in length. Short block lengths are an effective way to reduce motor vehicle speeds. It is no coincidence that the most walkable cities have the shortest block lengths.

 

Vista Termination. A powerful means of creating a memorable, picturesque street is to locate important civic buildings such as churches, city halls and libraries at the termination of a street vista. Such termination emphasizes the importance and visibility of buildings that are located in such places, which is precisely what should be done with the most important civic buildings in a community. By doing so, church-terminates-charlestoncivic pride is cultivated, and those within the community are sent a strong message about what the community believes are the most significant institutions in the community. Vista termination also creates the impression that the walk does not seem onerously “endless,” as a goal is in sight in front of the pedestrian. As Andres Duany has said, nothing is more satisfying than a prominent civic building grandly terminating a street vista.

 

 
 

 

Appropriate Businesses. Walkable streets tend to heavily regulate or prohibit the establishment of car-oriented businesses. Such businesses—because they depend on attracting large volumes of motor vehicles—are typically create visual blight, and excessively scaled for large vehicles instead of pedestrians (for example, by incorporating large parking lots between the street and building, or having an enormous building footprint that is difficult to negotiate on foot). Often, such businesses deploy glaring, flashing lighting, and can be the source of substantial levels of noise pollution. Walkable streets therefore commonly prohibit “Big Box” retail, drive-through’s, auto sales and service, stand-alone parking lots, car washes, and gas stations. By discouraging pedestrian activity, such businesses drain vitality from public sidewalks.walkable-storefronts

 

 

_________________________________________________

Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.

Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com

Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Ruin-Introduction-Sprawl-Cure/dp/0275981290

My Adventures blog

http://domnozziadventures.wordpress.com/

Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog

http://domdangerous.wordpress.com/

My Town & Transportation Planning website

http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/

My Plan B blog

https://domz60.wordpress.com/

My Facebook profile

http://www.facebook.com/dom.nozzi

My YouTube video library

http://www.youtube.com/user/dnozzi

My Picasa Photo library

https://picasaweb.google.com/105049746337657914534

My Author spotlight

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/domatwalkablestreetsdotcom

 

 

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Filed under Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design, Walking

Top Ten Urban Design Books

 
 

 

By Dom Nozzi

In no particular order, here are the ten best, most influential urban design books that I have ever read. Each of these books changed the course of my life and how I view city planning and the world at large. I would strongly recommend that each of these ten books be required reading for every student, local government elected official, planner and engineer in your community.

 

The High Cost of Free Parking

By Donald Shoup (2005). My book, “Road to Ruin,” claims the key to quality communities is driven by how we build our roads. But in this groundbreaking work, the best planning book I’ve ever read in my 20 years as a city planner, Shoup persuasively shows that the excessive parking required throughout the nation is the primary factor for how our communities form, and plays a powerful role in how we travel. The parking we require new development to provide is scientifically unsound, economically irrational, counter to our community objectives, and thereby catastrophic for our cities and our quality of life. Shoup makes the pesuasive, disturbing case that how we manage our parking is the lynchpin to the future of our cities. Shoup’s book is exceptionally readable, witty and insightful. The book is thin with regard to urban design concepts, but as Shoup effectively points out, without the proper management of parking, quality urban design is not possible.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

By Jane Jacobs (1961). This book is universally and appropriately considered a classic in urban design, and is a pioneer in accurately describing what is necessary for a healthy city. Many of the timeless concepts used in urban design first gained prominence as a result of this book. It motivated (and continues to motivate) a great many professionals to become urbanists. As the author says, “Lowly, unpurposeful and random as they appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life must grow.”

Cities and Automobile Dependence

By Jeff Kenworthy and Peter Newman (1989). The revolutionary, breakthrough book that changed my life as a planner. In its day, it turned conventional wisdom on its head with regard to traffic congestion, road widening and parking. Their international survey of cities shows that gas consumption and air pollution go DOWN as a result of congestion. That free-flowing traffic, big roads and excessive amounts of parking INCREASE gas consumption and air pollution (and also destroy community quality of life). This work also clearly shows the fundamental role that transportation plays in how a city forms. “The land use and urban form of cities are…fundamentally shaped by priorities in transportation…the essential character of a city’s land use comes down to how it manages its transport…higher average traffic speed appears to spread the city, creating lower density land use, a greater need for cars, longer travel distances and reduced use of other less polluting or pollution-free modes. The benefits gained in terms of less polluting traffic streams appear to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of extra travel and the resulting bulk of emissions.”

Home From Nowhere

By James Howard Kunstler (1996). The author combines an impressive understanding of quality urban design with hilarious, vitriolic, provocative observations about architecture in America. I have never laughed so hard in any book I have read. Or learned so much about the awful nature of buildings in the United States. Kunstler has made the point that, “what’s bad about sprawl is not its uniformity, but that it is so uniformly bad.” His other books about town-building and transportation are also worth reading: Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, The City in Mind.

Cities in Full

By Steve Belmont (2002). The best case I’ve ever read about the merits of high residential densities in cities, and why such densities are essential for city health. A stupendous discussion about what ingredients are necessary for the well-being of a city. And why it is so important for a downtown to be the centralized community focus for jobs, housing and retail (instead of a polycentric city form). Excellent discussion about why the monocentric city is best for commuting.

The Great Good Place

By Ray Oldenburg (1991). Oldenburg discusses the crucial importance of “The Third Place,” the place we would traditionally go to after the work day for socializing with friends and regularly finding a sense of community, the place where “everyone knows your name.” They are distinctive, informal gathering places, they make the citizen feel at home, they nourish relationships and a diversity of human contact, they help create a sense of place and community, they invoke a sense of civic pride, they provide numerous opportunities for serendipity, they promote companionship, they allow people to relax and unwind after a long day at work, they are socially binding, they encourage sociability instead of isolation, they make life more colorful, and they enrich public life and democracy. Their disappearance in our culture is unhealthy for our cities because, as Oldenburg points out, they are the bedrock of community life and all the benefits that come from such interaction.

Suburban Nation

By Andres Duany, Jeff Speck, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (2000). A superb summary of the downfall of the American neighborhood and how it can be restored. “In [the traditional New England town], one can live above the store, next to the store, five minutes from the store or nowhere near the store, and it is easy to imagine the different age groups and personalities that would prefer each alternative. In this way and others, the traditional neighborhood provides for an array of lifestyles. In conventional suburbia, there is only one available lifestyle: to own a car and to need it for everything.”

Cultural Materialism

By Marvin Harris (1979). This book is about anthropology, not urban design, but it transformed how I think about human behavior, and therefore plays an essential role in my understanding why humans behave the way they do. For us to be effective in our urban design, it is necessary to know that humans behave largely due to the material conditions they face in their everyday world, and how very little behavior is due to the exhortation of ideas.

Trees in Urban Design

By Henry Arnold (1985). This should be a regularly consulted reference book on the shelves of all urban designers. An enormous wealth of information from an arborist who learned a great many things, in a long career, about the proper placement of trees to achieve better urbanism— how proper tree placement and selection can play a powerful role in creating a better city ambience. His prescriptions, while highly accurate and vitally important for a quality city, quite often run counter to what is frequently sought after by contemporary utility companies and other municipal engineers, which helps explain why most of our cities tend to be quite awful when it comes to their trees.

Stuck in Traffic

By Anthony Downs (1992). Another landmark book that changed how I think about transportation and city planning. In this highly readable book—required reading, by the way, for elected officials—Downs popularizes the concept of induced travel—what he calls The Triple Convergence. Why it is impossible for us to build our way out of congestion. He writes in an extremely understandable way about topics that are complex, yet crucially important—given the hundreds of billions of public dollars we spend to try to ease congestion.

 

Once you have read the above, there are ten additional, magnificent books worth your time.

 

The Car and the City. By Alan Durning (1996).

Zoned Out. By Jonathan Levine (2005).

Urban Sprawl and Public Health. By Howard Frumkin, Lawrence Frank, Richard Jackson (2004).

Getting There. By Stephen B.Goddard (1994).

Tomorrow’s Cities, Tomorrow’s Suburbs. By William Lucy (2006).

The Transportation/Land Use Connection. By Terry Moore & Paul Thorsnes (1994).

Fighting Traffic. By Peter Norton (2008).

Crabgrass Frontier. By Kenneth Jackson (1985).

How Cities Work. By Alex Marshall (2001).

Twentieth Century Sprawl. By Owen Gutfreund (2004).

The Wealth of Cities. By John Norquist (1998).

Visions for a New American Dream. By Anton C. Nelessen (1994).

Changing Places. By Richard Moe, Wilkie Carter Wilkie (1997).

Restoring the Rule of Law & Respect for Communities in Transportation. By Steve Burrington (1996).

Take Back Your Streets. By Conservation Law Foundation (1998).

The Next American Metropolis. By Peter Calthorpe (1993).

A Better Place to Live. By Philip Langdon (1994).

Divided Highways. By Tom Lewis (1999).

 

_________________________________________________

Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.

Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com

Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Ruin-Introduction-Sprawl-Cure/dp/0275981290

My Adventures blog

http://domnozziadventures.wordpress.com/

Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog

http://domdangerous.wordpress.com/

My Town & Transportation Planning website

http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/

My Plan B blog

https://domz60.wordpress.com/

My Facebook profile

http://www.facebook.com/dom.nozzi

My YouTube video library

http://www.youtube.com/user/dnozzi

My Picasa Photo library

https://picasaweb.google.com/105049746337657914534

My Author spotlight

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/domatwalkablestreetsdotcom

 

 

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Filed under Economics, Environment, Miscellaneous, Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design, Walking

Measuring Walkable Urbanity

What are the benefits of Walkable Urbanity?

amsterdam-ped-st

By Dom Nozzi

A community fortunate enough to contain walkable urbanity is a community to cherish, celebrate and protect. A walkable place is lively, physically and financially healthy, fashionable, affordable, sustainable, sociable and safe. It is, in other words, a crystal clear sign of a high quality of life. Almost by definition, an attractive community is walkable and an unpleasant community is unwalkable.

 

Walkability exists when there is convenient access. The home is so close to a park, a grocery store, a movie theatre, places of work, nightlife and civic institutions that it is an easy, short walk to nearly all of life’s daily destinations. Car ownership must be optional if a walkable lifestyle is to exist.

 

Ironically, in the 20th Century, travel by car was seen as the most convenient form of travel. Increasingly, however, we are coming full circle and realizing that past civilizations were right. That easy, quick access by foot, not car, is the key to convenience. And, importantly, living a rich, joyful life.athens-ga-walkable

 

A walkable lifestyle is the most sustainable, low-impact, convivial way of living. Achieving and sustaining a walkable community is the most effective way to promote a high quality of life. More walking—not just for recreation, but also for trips to work, to school, to shops—is an ideal way to:

1. Improve one’s health, by warding off obesity and a host of chronic illnesses.

 

2. Increase affordability, by substantially reducing travel costs.

 

3. Get to know your neighbors, because the serendipitous experience of bumping into those who live on your street frequently occurs when one walks, but nearly vanishes when one drives a car. Healthy neighborliness is a necessary ingredient if a sense of community is to be achieved.

 

4. Promote travel independence and travel choice, because children, a large number of seniors, the disabled, and many low-income people are unable to use a car and are unable to travel on their own back-bay-boston-on-st-parkingwhen a car is mandatory. Indeed, approximately one-third of all Americans are unable to drive a car.

 

5. Reduce air & noise pollution, as motor vehicles are a prime source of nearly all forms of noxious discharges to our skies. Indirectly, the compactness required for walkability reduces energy consumption per capita, which effectively reduces regional air pollution. The largest source of noise in most cities comes from car travel.

 

6. Promote a human-scaled neighborhood, because the existence of pedestrians leverages provision of modest sizes, speeds and dimensions. Very little is more effective in creating a high quality of life.

 

7. Reduce stormwater & “heat island” problems, because a reduction in use of motorized vehicles results in a reduction in petroleum products being released to surface- and groundwaters, and a reduction in the amount of impervious surface that must be provided. “Heat island” problems decline because of the reduction in needed impervious surfaces.bath-england-ped-st

 

8. Reduce injuries and deaths, because motorized vehicle travel results in tens of thousands of injuries and deaths each year.

 

9. Increase the feasibility for smaller, locally-owned businesses, as larger pedestrian volumes are a necessary ingredient for the establishment and survival of smaller, neighborhood-based shops and services.

 

10. Increase citizen surveillance, as larger numbers of pedestrians on sidewalks increases the “eyes-on-the-street” phenomenon (also known as “citizen surveillance”), which increases public safety.

 

A walkable urbanism featuring convenient access is a powerful way for beatles-do-it-in-roada community to attract and retain Richard Florida’s “Creative Class”, the young, smart citizens that communities depend on for a health economy and healthy overall community. “Brain Drain” is most likely to occur in placeless cities which lack the character, vibrancy, “hip-ness” and attractiveness provided inherently by a walkable community.

 

Ironically, despite all of the talk of the need for “sustainability,” improving the local economy, and improving neighborhood quality in America today, walkability is rapidly vanishing as a lifestyle choice throughout the nation.

 

Measuring Walkable Urbanity

Ann Breen and Dick Rigby (InTown Living, 2004) provide what I catania-italy-walkablebelieve are clear, accurate criteria that describe the essential elements of walkable urbanity. They list four characteristics, which they point out should be present, to some extent, in all places that wish to be considered “urban.” Besides the obvious “walkability” criterion, they list

* Density

* Diversity

* Hipness

* Public Transit

 

I would add “Human Scale” to the list, although this can be considered to be implicit within the “Walkability” criterion. Properly modest building heights (no more than 5 stories, ideally), modest lot sizes, modest lot widths and building setbacks from streets and intersections, as well as modest dimensions for street widths, block lengths and intersection turning radii, are indispensable elements of urbanity (streets should also be connected, instead of cul-de-sac’d, to reduce walking distances).

 

A crucial scaling mechanism for creating a human scale pertains to off-street parking. If such parking is in front and pushes the front of the chapel4building far back from the street or intersection, all semblance of human scale (not to mention walkable distance) is lost.

 

Human scale sends the powerful message that a neighborhood or street is designed to welcome pedestrians rather than cars. The ambiance is one of safety, peacefulness, dignity and neighborliness. Walking is welcomed, and the character created promises that the stroll will be delightfully interesting, thereby ensuring frequent walks.

 

BIPSM

While walkability “guru” Dan Burden lists his own criteria for walkable places on his web site, I really like this from him in April 2006: “…a powerful new way to measure the walkability and livability of a community…”Bump Into’s Per Square Minute.” (BIPSM)

 

BIPSM measures how many friends or acquaintances one bumps into per minute of walking on a sidewalk. A superb measure of the level of conviviality and sense of community.

 

A Comparison of Walkabilitycopenhagensquaretower-st

The Natural Resources Defense Council (Environmental Characteristics of Smart Growth Neighborhoods: An Exploratory Case Study) compares two neighborhoods in Sacramento, California with dramatically different densities, to show how density plays a profound role in creating walkability.

 

Metro Square

(20 dwelling units/acre)

North Natomas

(6 dwelling units/acre)

Distance to:    
     
Convenience Store

815 feet

15,388 feet

Supermarket

1,941 feet

14,458 feet

School

1,962 feet

17,181 feet

Bus Stop

666 feet

11,055 feet

Parks

347 feet

702 feet

Jobs in One Mile

29,266

0

 

How Many Businesses Are Within Walking Distance of Your Home?

A powerful way to assess the walkability of your home location or a location you are considering moving to is to determine the number of businesses within a one-mile walk of your home. A quick and easy way comes from Alan Durning (an author who wrote the superb book, The Car & the City). With this tool, you can, within seconds, find out how many businesses you can walk to from your home.

The method:

To get a count of businesses within a mile of your home (your “walkshed”), go to the Qwest online phone directory: http://www.dexonline.com/#, select the business listings, type “all” in the category field, click “near a street address,” type in your address, and choose “1 mile.” The Qwest site will rapidly list how many businesses there are within a one-mile walk of your front door, as well as their name and address.

My house has 148 businesses within a one-mile walking distance. Not bad, but homes within a big city downtown are usually within a mile of several thousands of businesses. But still, the number near my home is a lot better than the suburban home I grew up in when I was a boy. That home has a score of 0.

Durning goes on to point out that more than one quarter of car trips in the United States are shorter than one mile. That is a lot of trips that could have been walked. (In my opinion, most of these short trips are by car rather than by foot because for at least 98 percent of all car trips that Americans take, there is a free parking space at the destination, which begs us to arrive by car.)

Durning also indicates that “realtors provide detailed information to prospective home buyers on schools and resale values. They could as easily report the Walkshed Index—high scores translate into thousands of dollars of potential savings in fuel and car payments.”

A more recent, and in some ways better, Internet method of finding montorgueil-ped-stout the walkability of various locations is to use the http://www.walkscore.com website. As this site points out, Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.

_________________________________________________

Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.

Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com

Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Ruin-Introduction-Sprawl-Cure/dp/0275981290

My Adventures blog

http://domnozziadventures.wordpress.com/

Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog

http://domdangerous.wordpress.com/

My Town & Transportation Planning website

http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/

My Plan B blog

https://domz60.wordpress.com/

My Facebook profile

http://www.facebook.com/dom.nozzi

My YouTube video library

http://www.youtube.com/user/dnozzi

My Picasa Photo library

https://picasaweb.google.com/105049746337657914534

My Author spotlight

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/domatwalkablestreetsdotcom

 

 

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Filed under Environment, Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design, Walking

Top Five Recommendations for a Bicycle-Friendly Community

kids-biking1

By Dom Nozzi

What are the ingredients for creating a bicycle-friendly community? A community that feels safe, convenient and pleasant for all ages and abilities to ride a bicycle. It is important to understand, to begin with, that there are no easy, painless, overnight solutions. Over the past several decades, we have unconsciously done everything we could possibly do to make bicycling an exceptionally dangerous, unacceptable way to travel. It will therefore take quite a while for our cities and towns to see bicyclists crowding our streets. And change will need to be incremental and from a great many sources. There are no silver bullets.

Here are my top 5 recommendations for how to make a more bicycle-friendly community.

1. Parking Cash-Out. Local employers (particularly local government agencies and large private employers) must establish a parking cash-out program. By ending this enormous subsidy for driving a car to work, cash-out is the most effective tool we know of to recruit new bicyclists. An increased number of bicycle commuters dramatically increases bicyclist safety and comfort while riding, and promotes political action to improve bicycling conditions. bike-lane-in-suburbs

2. Centralization and Residential Density. Important facilities and events, such as the county farmers market, the conference center, the major movie theatre complex, the major fitness center, the main post office, major government facilities, and annual festivals must only be allowed in the central area of the city (subsidiary or duplicate facilities and events can be allowed in the periphery). Those facilities and events that are currently located in peripheral locations must be incrementally moved to central locations. Locating these facilities and events at peripheral locations substantially reduces their accessibility by a large percentage of commuter bicyclists. Such an effort is not only crucial to bicycling, but is also essential in creating a sense of community. Similarly, a city must establish higher density residential development within the central areas of the city. Doing so dramatically increases bicycling because such housing increases the convenience, safety and practicality of bicycling. Destinations such as school, retail, recreation, government facilities, jobs and culture become more proximate (more within bicycling range).

3. Traffic Calming and Road Diets. High-speed, inattentive car travel is one of the most significant reasons bicyclists feel unsafe and uncomfortable while bicycling—and why so many are discouraged davis-bike-lane-parking2from bicycling at all. Each time a street is traffic-calmed, or has travel lanes removed (road dieting), bicycling is dramatically improved and there is a significant increase in bicycling. A large percentage of streets carry car traffic that features uncomfortably and dangerously high speeds, and a number of streets can greatly benefit from travel lane removal (for example, 5- or 4-lanes to 3). Many of these diet opportunities provide a way to install an in-street bicycle lane on streets that do not have space today, and in-street bicycle lanes are, by far, preferable to off-street paths for commuter bicycle travel. Because 4-, 5-, and 6-lane streets are a primary cause of high speed car traffic and inattentive, reckless driving, it is important for a community to avoid building them, and to “diet” those that are already at that size. High-speed, inattentive driving significantly discourages bicycling in most every community.

4. Off-Street Path System. The off-street bicycle/pedestrian path system in nearly every community is either non-existent, or contains a number of path opportunities that have languished—unbuilt—for decades. The gaps in this “greenway” system must be eliminated. While completing the system will not result in a significant increase in bicycle commuting, it would dramatically increase recreational bicycling. A completed greenway system also plays the crucial role of recruiting novice bicyclists and non-bicyclists into becoming regular, confident bicyclists, because off-street paths provide a “training ground” that allows large numbers of untrained bicyclists to learn the skills and joys of bicycling in a safe, non-threatening, sociable environment. creek-trail-after2

5. In-Street Bicycle Lanes. Despite what is often believed, in-street bicycle lanes are much more desirable to a commuter bicyclist than are off-street paths or sidewalks. Paths can only feasibly link a tiny number of destinations that a bicyclist seeks to travel to, and even for the small number of destinations that can be reached by a path, using the street is nearly always faster and more direct than using an off-street path. And just like motorists, a primary desire by bicyclists is to find the fastest route to a destination when commuting. In addition, contrary to popular belief, studies have shown for several decades that in urbanized areas where there are numerous crossing driveways and streets, in-street bicycle lanes are significantly safer than sidewalks. Because paths usually create the same safety hazards as sidewalks (by having numerous driveway and street intersections), they are generally discouraged as a design treatment within urbanized areas. Given all of this, a bicycle-friendly city must ensure that as many major streets as possible contain in-street bicycle lanes. It is important to keep in mind that one size does not fit all. In general, in-street bicycle bike-lane1lanes are not appropriate on low-speed downtown streets or neighborhood streets. Their application tends to be most appropriate on higher-speed suburban arterial streets.

 

_________________________________________________

Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.

Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com

Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Ruin-Introduction-Sprawl-Cure/dp/0275981290

My Adventures blog

http://domnozziadventures.wordpress.com/

Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog

http://domdangerous.wordpress.com/

My Town & Transportation Planning website

http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/

My Plan B blog

https://domz60.wordpress.com/

My Facebook profile

http://www.facebook.com/dom.nozzi

My YouTube video library

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My Author spotlight

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References for #5 above:

Florida Dept of Transportation (1998). Florida Bicycle Facilities Planning and Design Manual. Tallahassee FL.

Florida Dept of Transportation (2002). Plans Preparation Manual. Tallahassee FL.

Wachtel, A. and Lewiston, D. (1994). Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections. ITE Journal. September.

Forester, J. (1984). Effective Cycling. MIT Press.

Forester, J. (1983). Bicycle Transportation. MIT Press.

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Filed under Bicycling, Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design

Context-Sensitive Access Management

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Access_management)

By Dom Nozzi

Wikipedia defines “access management” as “…the regulation of interchanges, intersections, driveways and median openings to a roadway. Its objectives are to enable access to land uses while maintaining roadway safety and mobility through controlling access location, design, spacing and operation. This is particularly important for major roadways intended to provide efficient service to through-traffic movements…” (

 

As a planner in FL for the past 20 years (where “growth management” is essentially a code word for ensuring that new development does not delay or slow down cars), I observed that “access management” was touted strongly—to the detriment of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users. And the overall quality of life.

 

Detrimental because speeded up car traffic (particularly “through” traffic) is toxic to safe, comfortable, convenient walking, bicycling or transit use. Common access management tools, such as longer block lengths, funneling car trips onto fewer and therefore larger roads, and less road crossings, are obstacles for pedestrians, bicyclists or transit users.

 

Tellingly, because we operate in the “Happy Car” paradigm, even pedestrian, bicycle and transit advocates have become advocates of access management, even though such management typically undercuts pedestrian, bicycle or transit travel.

 

The Zero-Sum Game

Design for motor vehicle transportation is a zero-sum game. Almost inevitably, when conditions for cars are “improved” (“speeded up,” “made more efficient,”, etc.), conditions for all other forms of travel (bike, pedestrian, transit) are degraded.

 

An enormous part of our problem here is what economists call “The Barrier Effect,” which is a principle stating that certain things create barriers to the use of something else. In this case, the Barrier Effect is caused by cars. Single-mindedly designing our transportation system for cars creates substantial barriers for those wishing to use transit, walk or bicycle. Who in their right mind, for example, would feel safe bicycling on a six-lane road?

 

In other words, whenever we modify a road to create “efficient” or “free-flowing” or “less congested” roads (usually by widening the road or adding turn lanes), the Barrier Effect means that we are simultaneously and unintentionally making it harder to walk, bicycle or use transit. A classic “zero-sum” game where, when cars win, all other forms of travel lose. It means that road “improvements” for cars recruits even more motorists who were formerly walking, bicycling or using transit.

 

A self-perpetuating vicious cycle of unintended consequences. One where spending millions of dollars of our tax money on road widenings makes us our own worst enemy.

 

The Need for Context-Sensitivity

The first task for a planner seeking to determine appropriate design is to first determine where in the community the design will occur. Once this is known, the design can be tailored to be “context sensitive.”

 

One must know if the design is to be applied in suburban/drivable locations, or urban/walkable locations. If the former, conventional access management tactics tend to be appropriate, as the imperative is to minimize car travel delays and maximize car speeds.

However, in urban/walkable/compact/mixed-use locations, the pedestrian is the design imperative. In such locations, it is therefore essential that slow-speed (and “attentive motorist”) design be emphasized to maximize pedestrian comfort and safety. Access management tends to undercut such a design objective, because motorists can drive faster and less attentively when access management is successful.

A quality pedestrian environment must include relatively short block lengths, as well as mid-block crossings and cross-access within blocks. Again, access management tends to undercut these essential design tactics in walkable locations.

 

Speaking as a bicycle commuter, I tend to find a reduction in driveways (another common access management tool) to be an inconvenience for bicycling. I understand the safety problems associated with too many driveways, but we shouldn’t forget unintended consequences.

 

When the words “safety” and “efficient” and “mobility” are used in the field of transportation, such words tend to be euphemisms for higher speed, unimpeded car travel. And the last thing a healthy, low-speed, pedestrian-friendly downtown needs is faster, unimpeded, through car travel. Higher speed (“efficient”) car travel in a downtown (not to mention excessive, under-priced off-street parking) drains the lifeblood out of a downtown.

Again, be careful about where various designs are applied. Avoid “one-size-fits-all” solutions. What is beneficial for higher-speed suburbia is almost always detrimental to lower-speed walkable downtowns, where transportation choice must be emphasized. 

 

Be sure you are context-sensitive—that you are applying the right design tools to the appropriate locations of the community.

 

A Solution

A solution to this dilemma, then, is to establish zones in your community. In your suburban (drivable) zone, conventional access management tactics can be employed appropriately. In your more compact, urbanized, higher-density (walkable) zone, access management tools should be avoided.

 

The walkable zone (or zones, if the community intends to create additional walkable locations other than in its downtown) should be exempted from access management. More appropriate tools, such as short block lengths, connected streets, mid-block crossings, on-street parking, cross-access within blocks, and narrow streets, should be employed. Unlike in the suburbs, in the walkable zone it is desirable to slow car traffic and obligate motorist attentiveness.

 

One-size-fits-all, when applied to such strategies as access management, is detrimental to the diversity of lifestyles and transportation choices found in healthy cities. Let the suburb be a suburb. But let the city be a city.

_________________________________________________

Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.

Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com

Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Ruin-Introduction-Sprawl-Cure/dp/0275981290

My Adventures blog

http://domnozziadventures.wordpress.com/

Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog

http://domdangerous.wordpress.com/

My Town & Transportation Planning website

http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/

My Plan B blog

https://domz60.wordpress.com/

My Facebook profile

http://www.facebook.com/dom.nozzi

My YouTube video library

http://www.youtube.com/user/dnozzi

My Picasa Photo library

https://picasaweb.google.com/105049746337657914534

My Author spotlight

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/domatwalkablestreetsdotcom

 

 

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Filed under Bicycling, Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design, Walking