Friday, April 12, 2013

Jeff Speck Walkable City Open Discussion

It has been pointed out that Jeffrey Tumlin's talk, on walkable communities, conflicts with the active transportation summit.

But isn't that ok?  Tumlin would just be preaching to the choir at the summit, and maybe some folks who wouldn't go to the full two-day summit will go to a brown bag talk across from city hall at the library.  Outreach, not echo chamber!

For the weekend, you may recall a friend of the blog has shared a copy of Jeff Speck's Walkable City for review.

There don't seem to be very many reading it at the moment, but maybe we'll put out an open thread over the weekend, and see if it'll generate any discussion.

In his intro Speck says:
In the absence of any larger vision or mandate, city engineers - worshipping the twin gods of Smooth Traffic and Ample Parking - have turned our downtowns into places that are easy to get to but not worth arriving at.
And off he goes. Here's another choice quote:
Underpriced curb parking is no fairer than giving random discounts on other municipal services like water or electricity based upon who circles the block the longest...
But here's one that challenged a core value here in favor of bicycling:
The latest enemies of on-street parking...are two erstwhile friends [of Speck, one presumes]: bikeways and transit lines. Stripping a sidewalk of its protection [which a row of parked cars provides] in order to add bike lanes is just sacrificing one form of non-motorized transportation for another.
So if you're reading it, or have already read it, what has stood out? Did Speck have any insights or analytical notions especially relevant to current projects and problems here in Salem?


Jeff McNamee said...

Let's buy all City of Salem Planners a copy! Planning Commission and City Council too. I'll donate one book, others?

Cur said...

Urban Triage--Focus on the places that have decent buildings that serve the sidewalk and have street trees (State St. cough cough) then fix the street. Forget about the stroads with the strip malls and fry pits. They are a lost cause.

My more general take on it is that it is the complete narrative in a very readable package that any one can enjoy--even if they don't spend much time thinking about urban planning.

Gary said...

I agreed with Speck's theory that the 20 & 30 somethings today grew up watching Seinfeld and Friends, where the characters thrive in a very urban environment, rarely drive or even own their own car. Compare that to the previouis generation that watched the Brady bunch and Partridge Family with the suburban car-based setting. Not sure if Speck is the first one to write about this, but it does make sense. I recall having a distinct change of impression of urban living in about 1996, and I suddenly wanted to live in the central city areas. I must have been watching Seinfeld. :)

Curt said...

Gary. We had a similar experience buying our first house. We bought in the Mad River Valley of Vermont close to skiing, hiking, mountain biking. It seemed to have it all but after a couple years the lack of services, the driving, and the general lack of people much of the year got old and we relocated to the "city"--Montpelier, VT pop. 7000.

Eye opening stat: Of the 101 million new households expected to form by 2025, 88% will not have any children. Salem doesn't seem remotely ready to compete in that environment.