10 Techniques for Making Cities More Walkable – Design – The Atlantic Cities
January 9, 2013 Leave a comment
- Put cars in their place. Streets are public spaces for people, not conveyors for cars.
- Mix the uses. In particular create more affordable housing in growing neighborhoods prone to gentrification.
- Get the parking right. Consolidate it and make people pay for it.
- Let transit work. Plan transit in tandem with urban investment, make housing dense enough to support it, and make it an enjoyable experience (I’m looking at you, SEPTA).
- Protect the pedestrian. Cars go slower, and thus pedestrians are safer, when drivers are afraid of crashing into things. Speck, and some others, encourage getting rid of signage and road striping all together and forcing drivers to concentrate.
- Welcome bikes. Cycling allows people to have another choice beyond the car.
- Shape the spaces. Create outdoor rooms and a sense of enclosure.
- Plant trees. Trees improve auto safety, naturally cool cities, and contribute to stormwater retention.
- Make friendly and unique [building] faces. Interesting architecture will keep people entertained and encourage them to walk.
- Pick your winners. Focus initially on downtowns and transit corridors.
Benfield also has a few critiques for Speck. He criticizes the “cars suck” idea that he and many designers (I will admit, often myself included) have a habit of exhibiting. He also criticizes Speck’s dismissal of green space as important to the city, although Benfield does agree that it is important to make sure green spaces contribute to the urban nature of a place rather than making it feel more suburban or rural. He also agrees with John Norquist’s statement that there is good and bad congestion, and that small cities such as Pittsburgh shouldn’t try congestion pricing because it will give people just another reason to stay out of the city.