Tag Archives: pedestrian mall

Dom’s Top Five All-Time Favorite Festive Walks

By Dom Nozzi

Walking, in my opinion, is one of the great pleasures of life. That makes sense, as humans are hard-wired to be a walking species. Indeed, we all know that a person notices more architecture and landscaping and street design – and certainly is better able to engage in neighborly conversation with fellow citizens – when walking on a city street compared to driving a car down that street. Walking, in other words, is more HUMAN than driving.

But I have noticed during these days of pandemic in April 2020, where my partner and I do a lot more walking (in part to escape cabin fever!), that even though I tend to get around my neighborhood streets by bicycle, even bicycle travel is not as able to allow me to “smell the roses,” as they say, as when I walk. On many of my “pandemic neighborhood walks,” I find myself regularly thinking that “I’ve never noticed that before in all of my bicycle rides down this street!”

Walking truly is a way to be most human. Most part of your world. Not to mention a great way to be healthy and happy!

I have started calling my neighborhood walks “Smell the Roses Travel.”

Now that I am enjoying walking more than I have ever done so in the past – and doing a lot more of it each week these days! – I’ve given some thought to what my all-time favorite walks happen to be.

Here are my criteria for a great festive walk.

First, the walk should be vibrant, bustling, festive, and therefore entertaining. On a regular basis.

“Festive” is defined as a street that is full of people happily walking or otherwise socializing. The street is often festooned with colors and lights, and occasionally benefits from live street music and other street performers.

Second, the dimensioning of the street – how wide the street is, and how close buildings are to the street – is human-scaled rather than sprawling car-scaled.

Third, the street is flanked by plenty of retail, culture, services, or civic activity – so that the street is regularly energized and enlivened.

Fourth, the street is convivial and slow-speed. When I walk the street, I am likely to engage in conversation with people along the way, and the street design is such that motorists – if not on a car-free “walking street” — are obligated to drive relatively slowly, quietly, and attentively.

Quadrilatero District, Bologna, Italy, Dec 2016 (66)

Using the above criteria, the following are my five all-time favorite festive walks.

 

  1. Via Pescherie Vecchie in the Quadrilatero neighborhood of town center Bologna, Italy during Christmas season.

 

  1. Corso Umberto, Taormina, Italy.

Corso Umberto in Taormina, Dec 8, 2019 (194)

  1. The Ortigia/Siracusa outdoor food market on Via Emmanuele de Benedictis in Sicily. A happy, boisterous walk full of delicious, fresh Italian fish and produce.
  2. La Passeggiata on Via Maqueda in Palermo, and Mercato di Ballaro outdoor food market in Palermo, Italy.
  3. La Ramblas, Barcelona. Barcelona, Dec 5, 2017 (1)

 

In sum, as the Italians would say, “Andiamo per fare una passeggatia!” Which in English proclaims “Let’s go for a walk!”

Honorable Mentions

Monopoli Centro Storico (Old Town)

Bari Centro Storico (Old Town)

Via Tribunali in Centro Storico (Old Town) of Naples/Napoli, Italy

Via di Città and the Piazza del Campo outdoor food market in Centro Storico (Old Town) of Siena, Italy

Corso Italia in Centro Storico (Old Town) of Sorrento, Italy

Centro Storico (Old Town) of Venice, Italy

Marktplatz, Centro Storico (Old Town) Aachen, Germany

Bonn Old Town

Copenhagen Old Town

Dusseldorf Old Town

Madrid Old Town

Sevilla Old Town

Toledo Old Town

Valencia Old Town

Honorable Mention streets part one

Honorable Mention Streets two

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Filed under Transportation, Urban Design, Walking

Raining on a Sustainability Parade

By Dom Nozzi

Recently, a good friend and colleague indicated in an email that it was important for us to stop pussyfooting around when it comes to attacking or otherwise opposing car-happy tactics such as road widening, removal of on-street parking, fighting against mixed use development, or keeping residential densities low in a new development. That if we continued to be too timid in going after these counterproductive design ideas, we would continue to fail to meaningfully improve and induce more bicycling, walking, or transit use in the US.

We must, he urged, move aggressively to ban cars from certain streets, for example.

As much as I was thrilled to hear him make these bold observations, I’m not sure the time is ripe.

Frankly, I was SHOCKED to hear myself say that.

I’ve spent a lifetime being on the other end of this, with friends and enemies regularly telling me “Gainesville [where I used to be a town planner] is not ready for your idea, Dom,” or “Your idea is too radical, Dom, and will marginalize you.”

But I find that I must urge caution in proceeding too rashly – and I do believe my friend is being somewhat rash.

I STRONGLY agree that we need to stop pussyfooting around with cars and what we bend over backwards to provide them, if we are serious about promoting bicycling, walking, or transit use. Anything else is almost a complete waste of time. I probably agree with him more than anyone else I know!

BUT [it is very painful to have a “but” here…] I’m convinced that the US still has made it way too cheap to own and drive a car. Given that on-going state of affairs — that we’ve had now for several decades — I cannot imagine that an explicit anti-car crusade will resonate with anyone – even our allies.

Given what I’ve seen over the past 20 years with the very quick disappearance of openly anti-car organizations in the US during a time where it is very affordable to drive a car everywhere, I think that an openly anti-car agenda by an organization (or individuals) must regrettably wait for the cost of car ownership and use in the US to become significantly higher. We are starting to get close to that long-awaited tipping point – increasing gas prices, for example – but the prices are still too low overall.

I regrettably urge patience. We are still in the low-cost motoring world that will inevitably marginalize those calling for car-attacking tactics.

I’m saying this because philosophically, I am a materialist. Behavior and values are largely shaped or driven by underlying conditions such as prices. No matter how skillfully conveyed, even the most inspiring rhetoric needs to patiently wait for the conditions to be right, and the prices are just not there yet, I’m afraid. I say this even though I fully agree with him on the effective tactics.

Have I lost my revolutionary radicalism in my “old age”? Or have I just matured into someone who is now more politically savvy than I once was in my younger days?

_________________________________________________

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, Politics, Road Diet, Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design, Walking

Is the Call for “Car-Free” Streets a Good Idea?

by Dom Nozzi

Long ago, I was somewhat enthusiastic about “car-free” efforts. However, my view of such efforts has matured since then. It seems to me that car-free advocacy is both premature and counterproductively extreme. As long as the price of gas, cars, roads, and parking remains reasonably affordable, as it still is in the US, calling for a car-free world has very, very little chance of gaining any political traction.

An analogy is the “zero population growth” movement.

In both cases, there is much to be said – theoretically — about each idea. But neither has a chance of motivating large numbers of leaders, professionals, and planners in today’s world.

By contrast, the new urbanism movement – which strives for a return to the timeless tradition of building walkable, sustainable, lovable neighborhoods — is brilliantly pragmatic by recognizing the toxic-to-cities nature of making cars happy without calling for their elimination.

Calling for the elimination of cars would marginalize new urbanism and make it impossible for the new urbanism movement to do anywhere near as much as it has done to reform our communities. Instead, the new urbanist movement has inspired a great many to reform communities by design that forces cars to behave themselves (which is an enormously beneficial achievement), rather than calling for their elimination.

We’ll eventually live in a car-free world with zero population growth, but not in our lifetime.

It seems to me that both the zero population growth and car-free movements slow down the needed revolutions because such goals seem so kooky and extreme that the entire baby is thrown out with the bathwater.

_________________________________________________

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 Miscellaneous, Urban Design, Walking