Durable Growth

Can twenty be plenty?

Typical California arterial street

In my last post, I wrote about how our grandparents and great-grandparents yielded our streets to the automobile in the early 20th century, with the result that we’re no longer even allowed to hold block parties in the street.

Before the advent of the automobile, most street uses occurred at […]

Durable Growth

Thoughtful balancing better than rigid rules

Building in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York

My last three posts might have projected a curmudgeonly air. I didn’t feel curmudgeonly when writing them. But when I read back over them, I realize that I may have come across as grumpy by challenging the civic value of some parks, by suggesting that the environmental […]

Durable Growth, Transportation

Northern California tour: Freedom Park Road

Freedom Park Road

Two weeks ago, I began recounting a recent daytrip I took through Northern California. My goal was to look, however briefly, at destinations that I hoped would offer urbanist insights. I began my day in Suisun City, a city center of well-conceived urban redevelopment and a personal favorite. I continued with […]

Durable Growth

Allocating sidewalk width

Poorly allocated sidewalk

For the past few months, Petaluma Urban Chat has been reading “The Smart Growth Manual” by Andres Duany, Jeff Speck, and Mike Lydon. Unfortunately, our discussions were disjointed because we had several speakers scheduled over the same period.

It was a shame that we couldn’t focus more effectively because the book […]

Durable Growth

Maintaining pedestrian interest in Petaluma

Fence along McDowell

In Walkable City, Jeff Speck identifies the four elements that must be present for walkability. His four fundamentals are usefulness, safety, comfort, and interest. Speck effectively argues that the absence of any of the four undermines walkability.

The interest element has been undervalued in a pair of recent Petaluma situations.

The […]

Durable Growth

City Repair: The concept and the book

Intersection project (from Streets Wiki)

Urbanism has many facets, but walkability is integral to most of them. A goal of much of my blogging is encouraging more new walkable urban development. I also write about enhancing walkability in places where it exists, but is flawed.

It’s also imperative to add walkability to existing neighborhoods […]

Durable Growth

Jeff Speck and walkability still riding high

Walkable marketplace in Italy

Earlier this year, I wrote several times about Jeff Speck, including a review of his “Walkable City”. The book was also a reading selection for Petaluma Urban Chat. We spent several meetings chewing over the lessons imparted by what many consider the urban planning book of 2013.

It’s been a […]

Durable Growth

A ten-minute neighborhood is essential but insufficient for walkability

Wallkable street near Iowa State campus

A walkability rule-of-thumb is that motivated pedestrians will walk to destinations that are ten minutes away before resorting to cars. So time is a fine initial measure of walkability. But it isn’t sufficient. Others factors also affect walkability.

In “Walkable City”, Jeff Speck offers four criteria for a […]

Durable Growth

Five Bs leave Council Bluffs with a failing grade

Council Bluffs sidewalk detail

In “Walkable City”, author Jeff Speck writes about the failures of past urban beautification programs. He recalls “the famous ’Five Bs’ of the eighties – bricks, banners, bandstands, bollards, and berms – that now grace many an abandoned downtown.”

I smiled at the description, picturing a generic deserted downtown with […]

Durable Growth

Is urbanism legal in the North Bay?

Urban district in Omaha

In The Smart Growth Manual by Andres Duany and Jeff Speck with Mike Lydon, Point 1.13 is “Legalizing Smart Growth”. The authors write, “Suburban sprawl must be recognized as the default development pattern. … the principal cause is that in most places smart growth is technically illegal.” They go on […]