jeff speck

jeff speck bw

[washington dc]

how america can be:

1. more economically resilient

2. more health sustainable

3. more environmental

become a place where people want to be..

60% of millennials decide where they want to live, then they find a job there

we have an asthma epidemic – from car exhaust

first generation of children that are predicted to live shorter lives than their parents

walk score..

traffic accidents – it’s not if you’re in a city – it’s how it’s designed.. is it designed around cars or around people


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the great green way


walk able

walkable city

book links to amazon



walkable city highlights


This is not the next great book on American cities. That book is not needed. An intellectual revolution is no longer necessary

In the absence of any larger vision or mandate, city engineers—worshiping 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.

We planners are counting on these typical places, because America will be finally ushered into “the urban century” not by its few exceptions, but by a collective movement among its everyday cities to do once again what cities do best, which is to bring people together—on foot

fabric is one of several key aspects of urban design that are missing from the walkability discussion in most places. This is because that discussion has largely been about creating adequate and attractive pedestrian facilities, rather than walkable cities

Clearly, there is more to walking than just making safe, pretty space for it.

The modern world is full of experts who are paid to ignore criteria beyond their professions

Each of these approaches may seem correct in a vacuum, but is wrong in a city

With no pedestrian culture, there were no opportunities for the chance encounters that turn into friendships.

The number of nineteen-year-olds who have opted out of earning driver’s licenses has almost tripled since the late seventies, from 8 percent to 23 percent.1 This statistic is particularly meaningful when one considers how the American landscape has changed since the seventies, when most American teens could walk to school, to the store, and to the soccer field, in stark contrast to the realities of today’s autocentric sprawl.

Richard Florida observes: “Younger people today … no longer see the car as a necessary expense or a source of personal freedom. In fact, it is increasingly just the opposite: not owning a car and not owning a house are seen by more and more as a path to greater flexibility, choice, and personal autonomy.”

I grew up in the suburbs watching shows about the suburbs. They grew up in the suburbs watching shows about the city. My complacency has been replaced by their longing

Leinberger notes how, starting now, an average of 1.5 million Americans will be turning sixty-five every year, quadruple the rate of a decade ago.7 This rate will not begin to plateau until 2020 and we will not see it return to current levels until 2033.

David Byrne: “If we can build a successful city for children, we can build a successful city for all people.

While most American cities were building more highways, Portland invested in transit and biking. While most cities were reaming out their roadways to speed traffic, Portland implemented a Skinny Streets program. While most American cities were amassing a spare tire of undifferentiated sprawl, Portland instituted an urban growth boundary. These efforts and others like them, over several decades—a blink of the eye in planner time—have changed the way that Portlanders live.

While transportation used to absorb only one-tenth of a typical family’s budget (1960), it now consumes more than one in five dollars spent.

But it turns out that while we were shouting into the wilderness about the frustrations, anomie, and sheer waste of suburban sprawl, a small platoon of physicians was quietly doing something much more useful: they were documenting how our built environment was killing us

Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the American health-care crisis is largely an urban-design crisis, with walkability at the heart of the cure

To summarize the findings of Urban Sprawl and Public Health—which are echoed by a growing number of epidemiologists nationwide—the inactivity-inducing convenience, often violent speed, and toxic exhaust of our cars have contributed mightily to the circumstance that “for the first time in history, the current generation of youth will live shorter lives than their parents.

In the mid-1970s, only about one in ten Americans was obese, which put us where much of Europe is right now. What has happened in the intervening thirty years is astonishing: by 2007, that rate had risen to one in three,

As recently as 1991, no states had adult obesity rates over 20 percent. By 2007, only one state, Colorado, was under 20 percent.1

Excessive weight now kills more Americans than smoking

Car crashes have killed over 3.2 million Americans, considerably more than all of our wars combined.24 They are the leading cause of death for all Americans between the ages of one and thirty-four,25 and their monetary cost to the nation is estimated to be hundreds of billions of dollars annually

Jane Jacobs put it this way: “Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.”

Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, sees things in a much simpler light: “God made us walking animals—pedestrians. As a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to survive, but to be happy.”38 That thought is beautiful, perfectly obvious, and probably impossible to prove. But we do know that we need to be active in order to be healthy and that walking is the easiest way for most humans to be usefully active. Let’s make it easier

At last measure, we are sending $612,500 overseas every minute in support of our current automotive lifestyle.1 …….. Add to this amount the significant chunk of our $700 billion military budget that is used to protect these questionable foreign interests,● and it’s easy to see how our oil appetite could undo us economically long before the oil begins to run dry.

In Green Metropolis, David Owen puts it this way: The real problem with cars is not that they don’t get enough miles per gallon; it’s that they make it too easy for people to spread out, encouraging forms of development that are inherently wasteful and damaging.

gizmo green: the obsession with “sustainable” products that often have a statistically insignificant impact on the carbon footprint when compared to our location. And, as already suggested, our location’s greatest impact on our carbon footprint comes from how much it makes us drive.

because it’s better than nothing, LEED—like the Prius—is a get-out-of-jail-free card that allows us to avoid thinking more deeply about our larger footprint. For most organizations and agencies, it is enough. Unfortunately, as the transportation planner Dan Malouff puts it, “LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers.

I got rid of my car because my city invited me to and rewarded me in spades.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that, if three of the world’s four largest corporations are American oil companies● and those companies make millions of dollars in campaign contributions, then roads are fairly guaranteed to remain a priority.

In the meantime, each year students have poured forth from universities, a clear, harmful case of education surrendered to credentialism. One wonders at the docility of the students who evidently must be satisfied enough with the credentials to be uncaring about the lack of education. – Jane Jacobs

There is no earthly reason why an engineer would ever design a 14-foot lane for a city block, yet we do it continually. Why? The answer is utterly shameful: Because that is the standard. – Marohn

Taking highway standards and applying them to urban and suburban streets, and even county roads, costs us thousands of lives every year

The key is to welcome cars in the proper number and at the proper speed


Illich discovered a hidden physical law: the faster a society moves, the more it spreads out and the more time it must spend moving

different types of people use the streets at different times of day, keeping them active around the clock

As Adam Baacke suggested, this strategy means building more market-rate housing while also promoting those things that residents want and need: parks and playgrounds, supermarkets and farmers’ markets, cafés and restaurants—and, eventually, good schools—all embraced in a framework of top-notch walkability. Each of these items is a book in its own right, and well beyond this discussion. Suffice it to say that they are necessary, and that the first step to attracting them is to reorient economic development around creating a downtown that has them all

city as school ness

Parking covers more acres of urban America than any other one thing3—just look at an aerial photo of downtown Houston—yet, until Shoup, nobody seems to have made any effort to figure it out

Rather than parking working in the service of cities, cities have been working in the service of parking, almost entirely to their detriment

Shoup calculates that “the cost of all parking spaces in the U.S. exceeds the value of all cars and may even exceed the value of all roads.

We unknowingly support our cars with almost every commercial transaction we make, because a small share of the money changing hands pays for parking.

Nobody can opt out of paying for parking. People who walk, bike, or take transit are bankrolling those who drive

massive segment of our national economy has been disconnected from the free market, such that individuals are no longer able to act rationally. Or, more accurately, in acting rationally, individuals are acting against their own self-interest

Yet many changes in use bring with them an uptick in the parking requirement. Shoup notes how replacing a defunct furniture store with a new bicycle shop would typically require tripling the size of the parking lot.● Where are those spaces supposed to come from? The result, of course, is that nothing gets done and old buildings stay empty. Similarly, a thriving restaurant that wants to add sidewalk dining—something every city now says it wants—can’t do so without increasing its parking supply, often an impossibility.

Developers in San Francisco estimate that the city’s one-space-per-unit requirement adds 20 percent to the cost of affordable housing. Shoup calculates that eliminating this requirement would allow 24 percent more San Franciscans to buy homes

The larger question is why the future residents of Alma Place—Walk Score 95, for God’s sake—should need parking at all

The housing corporation was prohibited from charging a parking fee of one hundred dollars per month, which would have reduced nondrivers’ rents by about 10 percent.● So, even among the city’s poorest citizens, the pedestrians are subsidizing the drivers

That is, Americans require parking and limit density, while Europeans require density and limit parking.3

With rare exceptions, every transit trip begins and ends with a walk. As a result, while walkability benefits from good transit, good transit relies absolutely on walkability

ones with comprehensive transit networks surrounded by high-density neighborhoods

ed as life …ni ness

Only big, fast transit systems have the potential to fundamentally transform cities. But that does not mean that smaller systems can’t be worthwhile. When effective, these systems take one of two forms: either nodal, to connect several walkable districts together, or linear, to enhance and extend a walkable corridor.

ni to globe

Riders should be able to fall into the bus from a stool at a coffee shop.3

ed as life ness

And without true walkability on both ends of the line, your system is a nonstarter.

equity ness

As Darrin Nordahl argues convincingly in My Kind of Transit, public transportation is “a mobile form of public space,”32 and can provide so many of the benefits we seek from our time spent out of the house

That said, not all bus systems are duds—far from it. The most remarkable one nationally may be Boulder’s, an inexpensive network that confounds conventional transit wisdom in a number of important ways. Thanks to its system of cleverly branded routes—including the Hop, Skip, and Jump, with each route getting its own color—the city is living up to its motto of “Breathing Required, Driving Optional.” Despite gaining ten thousand new residents and twelve thousand new jobs since 1994, the city has seen zero increase in its total vehicle miles driven. Much of the system’s success comes from the way that it is marketed. Households buy a $120 EcoPass that gives all members free rides all year—and also gives them special treatment at local stores, restaurants, and bars. As a result, an entire EcoPass culture has evolved, in which driving just isn’t as cool

It is only in the driving-optional cities with good public transportation, taxis, walking, and biking that car-share can thrive

There is only one challenge to Zipcar, which is that they are too smart to locate in unwalkable cities

pedestrian safety is not enough. But it is essential, and also so often needlessly botched by the people who build our cities. These failures stem from two principal sources: a lack of concern for the pedestrian and a fundamental misunderstanding within the professions about what makes streets safe. The first cause is political, and can be overcome through advocacy. The second cause is technical, and can be overcome by setting the record straight

Contrary to perceptions, the greatest threat to pedestrian safety is not crime, but the very real danger of automobiles moving quickly. Yet most traffic engineers, often in the name of safety, continually redesign city streets to support higher-speed driving. This approach is so counterintuitive that it strains credulity: engineers design streets for speeds well above the posted limit, so that speeding drivers will be safe—a practice that, of course, causes the very speeding it hopes to protect against

Naked streets refers to the concept of stripping a roadway of its signage—all of it, including stop signs, signals, and even stripes. Far from creating mayhem, this approach appears to have lowered crash rates wherever it has been tried.

In Monderman’s terms, “Chaos equals cooperation.

If they are truly to offer an alternative to the automobile, bikes and trolleys must displace moving cars, not parked ones.

In Amsterdam, a city of 783,000, about 400,000 people are out riding their bikes on any given day.1

Amsterdam’s chief planner, Zef Hemel, told Shorto that “back in the 1960s, we were doing the same thing as America, making cities car-friendly.” He credits Jane Jacobs, of all people, with the transformation of Dutch thinking.18 It’s nice to know that somebody was listening to her back then.

The white marking seems to work as a subliminal signal to drivers that they need to act less cautiously—that it’s the edge of the lane, and not the cyclist, that they need to worry about.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cooling impact of a single healthy tree “is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 24 hours a day.

Our reliance on air conditioners means that the ambient temperature of our treeless cities exerts a global warming double whammy, complete with feedback loop. Not only do shade-deprived neighborhoods make the world hotter, but they require much more electricity to cool, most of which is still sourced from coal

Extrapolating to Portland as a whole, the study’s authors found that the presence of healthy street trees likely adds $15.3 million to annual property tax revenues. Meanwhile, the city pays $1.28 million each year for tree planting and maintenance, resulting in a payoff of almost exactly twelve to one.

As Jane Jacobs noted, “Almost nobody travels willingly from sameness to sameness and repetition to repetition, even if the physical effort required is trivial.

continuously unfolding panorama that comes from many hands at work

self-organizing ness

For the designer of a large structure to pretend to be many different designers is to falsify the historical record, especially since the modern myth of the genius architect insists that every designer’s personal style is as unique as his fingerprint

egotism and the desire for celebrity are only partly responsible for this orientation. It also comes from an insistence on intellectual honesty. Just as a building supposedly bears the obligation to be “of its time,” it must also be “of its author.

intellectual honesty…? how so – how to determine intellectual property – ownership et al… is that not more dishonest..?

There is of course an easier way to solve this problem: give some of the project away. When presented with a “building” that is rightly the size of a bunch of buildings, call up your friends and share the wealth.… And exactly how many architects, particularly in these slim times, do you expect are willing to take that leap? Only those rare few that consider city planning as important as architecture itself

Each designer came forward with a single megabuilding in his inimitable style. Our strategy was a bit different. We proposed dividing the large site into seven distinct building blocks, and assigning each block to one of the competitors, ourselves included. We wrote a one-page form-based code that controlled the volume and placement of each building, and admonished the judges that, rather than sponsoring a single monument, they could build a diverse neighborhood.

When they learned that we wanted to beat them in order to share the job with them, they seemed equal parts angry, grateful, and embarrassed.

abandoning competition

Ultimately, however, this is as much a business discussion as a design discussion. Too much of real estate practice in this era has been about faking variety, about creating the impression of multiple actors when control has unwisely been concentrated in the hands of too few powerful players.

Ed – pbl, et al, spinach or rock, raised eyebrow..

By separating useful things from each other, they can contribute to an automotive culture that exacerbates pollution

differentiation.. to infinity..ginormous small… 24/7 ness. equity.

Sometimes these anchors are quite close to each other, but almost nobody walks between them because of the poor quality of the connection

when I do a walkability plan, it is a multistep process. First, I study every street that has a chance of being walkable and I grade it in terms of its urban qualities. I ignore the street’s traffic characteristics, since they are simple to fix, and look only at comfort and interest: spatial definition and the presence of friendly faces. This effort produces a map in which the streets are colored from green through yellow to red based on their potential to attract pedestrian life. From this map, a pattern emerges, in which certain streets that are good enough come together to form a clear network of walkability. I then supplement this network with the additional streets that are necessary to connect it to the key anchors that it almost reaches, including other pieces of itself. The result is an urban triage plan: streets are either in or out

Only the “in” street properties are to receive city redevelopment support, whether that means money or just expedited permitting. And the “missing teeth” within this network—especially along the key severed connections—get the full front-burner treatment. Ideally, the entirety of the city leadership, both public sector and private sector, comes together around a simple understanding: Build These Sites First.

Even more surprising is how small a network of walkability can be while still giving the impression of a walkable city

it only takes a few blocks to create a reputation. The lesson of LoDo is to start small with something that is as good as you can make it. That is the beauty of urban triage

As much sense as it makes logically, urban triage can be a challenge politically. First, there is the name, which aptly conveys the presence of winners and losers and, for that reason, requires a lot of explanation. I am always quick to point out how the automotive strip can actually demand higher rents than Main Street, and that this is merely a discussion about walkability, not property value. That said, maybe the name urban triage needs to be replaced by something less trenchant

political verbiage police state.. by an assumed/popular definition.. which may or may not be even the original intended defn. either way – who’s owning the words.. and is that not limiting.. time wasting..? ie: detox, commons, … triage defn: the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties…  not so much about winners and losers…? so we’re letting mis defn determine usability of words..

When this book was almost finished, I sent it along to Andres so he could call my attention to any of their ideas that I had not properly credited. He declined to take on this task, a choice that embodies two of his dominant personality traits: a violent allergy to wasting time, and an intellectual generosity of truly historic proportion. For that reason, if you read something you like, there is a good chance that I got it from Andres—not that he would want the credit

again – the blur of ownership.. esp for those doing the thing they can’t not do.. better that its happening than that it’s being credited..



written with Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (skinny street – prospect):

suburban nation









book links to amazon



notes from suburban nation

I had always been amazed by Andres’s and Lizz’s patience with the Sisyphean task of convincing American communities to make traditional town planning legal again. – Jeff

The desire to short-circuit this Groundhog Day situation finally drove Andres and Lizz, in 1998, to let me write a first draft.

No wonder, then, that what academia found to be too “real-world,” the real world was ready to hear and embrace

today’s students are demanding a return to socially relevant work.

most Americans, who don’t think very often about city planning and who haven’t been offered the alternatives, are still settling for sprawl. Turning that ship around is a project for the next decade

Mixed-use, transit, and walking are words that no longer elicit smirks.

in cities where public transportation was shunned, the lack of it is now a public complaint. The relationship between public health and the design of the built environment has been firmly established, with scientific data supporting the benefits of urban walking as part of a daily routine.

The U.S. Green Building Council has moved beyond rating individual buildings to include entire communities in its new LEED for Neighborhood Development program. Smart Growth America has consolidated environmental and urban agendas to promote compact development.

A growing catalogue of tested techniques and an explosion of scientific studies are extending public awareness and engagement and changing policies around the world

in the past decade, New Urban News has reported on more than six hundred plans for new and renewed walkable communities in the United States and abroad. Each of these projects represents a victory over entrenched regulatory or market hurdles. The appeal of these places—their functionality and the pleasure they give—have swelled the movement.

imagine,,.both land.. and people free. none of us if one of us… ness

Poundbury, in Dorset, England, is probably the best example of an urban extension. It holistically integrates a full range of components missing from many other ambitious developments, including significant amounts of workplace and affordable housing. Like some of its better-known American counterparts, Poundbury stands irrefutable, promising the ultimate sustainability: the permanence that accrues only to places that are loved.

and people are free..

Poundbury, in Dorset, England, is probably the best example of an urban extension. It holistically integrates a full range of components missing from many other ambitious developments, including significant amounts of workplace and affordable housing. Like some of its better-known American counterparts, Poundbury stands irrefutable, promising the ultimate sustainability: the permanence that accrues only to places that are loved.

Social scientists identify three phases in cultural change: first, social marketing; then the removal of existing barriers to change; and finally the enactment of new regulations. Suburban Nation has helped to socially market a change in the way we build. Americans are now well into the subsequent phases of removing barriers and regulating

“What was left out?”

perhaps – the setting people free to carry on..

I find revolution more interesting than administration.

Even the classic American main street, with its mixed-use buildings right up against the sidewalk, is now illegal in most municipalities. Somewhere along the way, through a series of small and well-intentioned steps, traditional towns became a crime in America.

kind of like creativity in school..

A higher standard of living has somehow failed to result in a better quality of life

We live today in cities and suburbs whose form and character we did not choose. They were imposed upon us, by federal policy, local zoning laws, and the demands of the automobile. If these influences are reversed—and they can be—an environment designed around the true needs of individuals, conducive to the formation of community and preservation of the landscape, becomes possible.

Town planning, until 1930 considered a humanistic discipline based upon history, aesthetics, and culture, became a technical profession based upon numbers. As a result, the American city was reduced into the simplistic categories and quantities of sprawl

Every detail of this environment comes straight from technical manuals. After reading them one might easily conclude that they are organized, written, and enforced in the name of a single objective: making cars happy.

the problem with suburbia is not that it is ugly. The problem with suburbia is that, in spite of all its regulatory controls, it is not functional: it simply does not efficiently serve society or preserve the environment

The suburban model does offer one advantage over the neighborhood model: it is much easier to analyze statistically

crazy how much of this sounds like Ed..

In suburbia, there is only one available lifestyle: to own a car and to need it for everything.

Sadly, this shopping center and others like it are examples of the developers following the rules, building such retail the only way it is allowed. Almost every aspect of what is pictured here has been taken straight out of the code books: the size of the sign, the number of spaces in the parking lot, the placement of the lighting fixtures, the thickness of the asphalt, even the precise hue of the yellow stripes between the parking spaces. A considerable amount of time, energy, and care goes into creating an environment that most find unpleasant and tawdry.

There have always been better and worse neighborhoods, and the rich have often taken refuge from the poor, but never with such precision.

In such a Darwinian pecking order—in which each house is sold with bragging rights attached—homeowners are prone to get a bit panicky about the value of the house next door. They fear that if a neighbor chooses the wrong paint color, neglects to mow the lawn, or owns an overweight dog, their own property value will plummet.

The unity of society is threatened not by the use of gates but by the uniformity and exclusivity of the people behind them.

Sharing the same public realm, these people have the opportunity to interact, and thus come to realize that they have little reason to fear each other.

cure violence.. see each other..

Variety may be something to fear when selling houses in an isolated pod, but in a real neighborhood, the more housing types the better. In a neighborhood, people buy the community first and the house second. The more a place resembles an authentic community, the more it is valued, and one hallmark of a real place is variety.

prospect ness

To begin with the obvious, community cannot form in the absence of communal space, without places for people to get together to talk.

pi lab, collab, ..

In the absence of walkable public places—streets, squares, and parks, the public realm—people of diverse ages, races, and beliefs are unlikely to meet and talk.

adjacent possible, betting on the sync

The average American, when placed behind the wheel of a car, ceases to be a citizen and becomes instead a motorist. As a motorist, you cannot get to know your neighbor, because the prevailing relationship is competitive. You are competing for asphalt

walkable citiescolin ward

One of the most important aspects of our new towns is being shaped around an extremely unlikely emergency, with the result that they function inadequately in non-emergency situations.

sounds like protection issue et al, nsa/surveillance ness

Fire departments have yet to acknowledge that fire safety is but a small part of a much larger picture that others refer to as life safety. The biggest threat to life safety is not fires but car accidents, by a tremendous margin. Since the vast majority of fire department emergencies involve car accidents, it is surprising that fire chiefs have not begun to reconsider response time in this light; if they did, narrow streets would logically become the norm in residential areas. In the meantime, the wider streets that fire departments require are indeed quite effective at providing them with quick access to the accidents they help cause

total ed system.. creating cures et al for the ill ness of society – caused by a compulsory mandate of 12+ years.. to not be you..

The second mistake fire departments make is purchasing oversized trucks, vehicles that have trouble maneuvering through anything but the widest of streets. Sometimes these trucks are required by outdated union regulations, but more often they are simply the result of a town’s desire to have the most effective machinery it can afford.ak Unfortunately, a part of a truck’s effectiveness is its ability to reach the fire in the first place. Once purchased, the truck turns from servant to master, making all but the most wasteful and unpleasant street spaces impossible. When a giant truck is the design template, there is no choice but to build streets that are too wide to support pedestrian life

A recent study in Longmont, Colorado, compared fire and traffic injuries in residential neighborhoods served by both narrow and wide roads. Over eight years, the study found no increased fire injury risk from narrow streets, primarily because there were no fire injuries. One serious fire and several smaller fires resulted in property damage only. Meanwhile, in the same eight years, there were 227 automotive accidents resulting in injuries, 10 of them fatal. These accidents correlated most closely to street width, with new thirty-six-foot-wide streets being about four times as dangerous as traditional twenty-four-foot-wide streets.a

the purpose of the Subdivision Guidelines is to enhance safety and livability. Any statements encouraging bicycle use would not likely address these objectives.”an Presumably, we should be grateful that bicycles are still legal. In truth, a number of engineers have accepted more reasonable design standards, but in most cases there is one thing that prevents them from putting those standards into practice: their manuals. Engineers are exposed to substantial liability in their work. The most surefire way for them to avoid losing a lawsuit is to follow the engineering manuals precisely, no questions asked. Because pedestrian-friendly streets are not specified in the manuals, they are simply not possible, despite all the evidence encouraging their use.

Ed ness – blind allegiance to policy

The reaction of most municipalities to speeding has been not to question the standards but simply to post hopeful speed-limit signs, resulting in some rather ludicrous scenarios.

The engineers’ strict adherence to their manuals is actually promising; rather than convincing the engineers to fundamentally rethink their approach, we need only amend the manuals in order to reform the profession.

huge. yes. literally redefine..

“eyes on the street,” a phrase originally coined by Jane Jacobs.ap In order to discourage crime, a street space must be watched over by buildings with doors and windows facing it. Walls, fences, and padlocks are all less effective at deterring crime than a simple lit window.

Jane Jacobs

The single-use zoning system means that many areas are occupied only during certain times of the day. Apparently abandoned, residential subdivisions invite all sorts of misbehavior. Further, the suburban auto orientation means that few people are ever out walking, and nothing undermines the perception of safety more than being alone. It is a vicious circle: the less safe streets feel, the fewer people walk, and the less safe they become

like Peter Gray explaining why kids – when given freedom don’t go outside… most other kids aren’t free.. and so outside. so they are more connected to a community inside on computer, than outside alone. Peter said in some survey – 80% ish would prefer to be outside if there were others out there…

so a big piece to the sync – setting people free

Like narrow streets, alleys are often illegal in suburban jurisdictions and must be reintroduced with care—and sometimes by stealth. The first time that we designed a neighborhood with alleys, we had to label them “jogging paths” to get them approved

As Jane Jacobs put it: “Almost nobody travels willingly from sameness to sameness and repetition to repetition, even if the physical effort required is trivial.

How obvious and damaging does an error need to be before it is addressed and corrected?

Jane Jacobs may have answered this question in The Death and Life of Great American Cities: “The pseudo-science of planning seems almost neurotic in its determination to imitate empiric failure and ignore empiric success.

fractal ness

The ramifications are quite unsettling. Almost all of the billions of dollars spent on road-building over the past decades have accomplished only one thing, which is to increase the amount of time that we must spend in our cars each day

According to Fannie Mae, Americans prefer a good community to a good house by a margin of three to one.

The difference is one of density, not of organization; in fact, one of the great virtues of traditional urbanism is that increased density only makes it work better

This brings up a second factor determining a city’s health: whether the suburbs take a form that will accommodate public transit

the only urban form that efficiently accommodates mass transit is the neighborhood, with its mixed-use center and its five-minute-walk radius.

If transit is to work, its users must start as pedestrians.

An entire discipline called regional planning—about which very much is known and very little is put into practice—has emerged to address this reality.

Only at the regional scale can planning have a meaningful impact

region: globe

The absence of regional vision plagues neighborhood-oriented planners, especially in sprawling cities like Atlanta. They move heaven and earth to secure dozens of zoning variances and rewrite the engineering regulations, all in order to build walkable mixed-use neighborhoods. Yet, even with the improved lifestyle offered by these communities, it is impossible to go anywhere else without a car. Only when these neighborhoods are linked to a regional transit system will the broader world become truly accessible.

and global transit

The difficulty in establishing a regional planning authority derives primarily from the fact that few municipal bodies exist at the regional scale. Cities are too small, states are too big, and county lines are ignored under the creep of sprawl. Of the few significant regional planning authorities, most were put together to address single problems—environmental crises, usually—that are only incidentally of regional concern.

so now – 15+ yrs later – gobal

But regional-scale social and economic problems are less quantifiable and have yet to receive recognition, let alone resources. And the idea of establishing an additional layer of government within the federal/state/county/town hierarchy is hardly popular.

narrative for 100% of humanity – going there…

1. Admit that growth will occur. The first step of any recovery program is to acknowledge that a problem exists. In regional planning as well, it is a form of denial to presume that urban expansion can be stopped. No-growth movements, when successful, last for only one or two political generations, and often serve as an excuse to avoid planning entirely. When they are eventually reversed, as they inevitably are, growth quickly resumes in its worst form.

The social inequity that results from separating new development from old deterioration can be addressed only by governments working in concert. Since governments prefer absolute political autonomy, there is little motivation for them to do so.

2. Establish a permanent Countryside Preserve. One of the most disastrous consequences of sprawl is the way that it consumes the farmlands and wilderness surrounding populated areas. Cities and towns that were once able to satisfy their food needs locally no longer can; indeed, a brief breakdown in our transportation infrastructure would quickly demonstrate how far we have drifted from self-sufficiency

This official, rather than creating bureaucratic friction, would be charged with walking the project through an accelerated process

The greatest mistake the planners of the sixties and seventies made was to try to save the city by turning it into the suburb. Their approach could not have been worse. The future of the city lies in becoming more citylike, more pedestrian-friendly, more intense, more urban, more urbane

The key to active street life is creating a twenty-four-hour city, with neighborhoods so diverse in their use that they are inhabited around the clock

The faceless bureaucracy of a large city tends to become accessible and responsive if it is broken down into neighborhood-scale increments.

It is difficult to count the number of cities that have been extensively damaged by kowtowing to the demands of the automobile

Often, for such ventures to be successful, fledgling businesses must be allowed to occupy older buildings without upgrading fully to code. Farmers’ markets located in old or temporary quarters, such as in West Hollywood or Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal, are almost always effective in energizing their downtowns.

To encourage urban pioneers, cities must be prepared to bend the rules a little. Zoning that prohibits housing in commercial and industrial areas—often largely empty and therefore affordable—must be replaced with a mixed-use classification.


For example, the BYOS (bring your own sheetrock) unit should be legalized, and developers should be able to get certificates of occupancy for apartments that are habitable but as yet unfinished. Otherwise, urban living will be affordable only to those who have no desire to live there

baan ness

city planning and building departments must be encouraged to see themselves as an enabling staff rather than a regulatory staff.

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. —HENRY DAVID THOREAU, WALDEN (1854)

the neighborhood cop, on foot or on bicycle, can get to know neighborhood residents and visitors and develop a personal relationship with the adolescents of the neighborhood

designers, we sometimes forget that the best way to make lasting change is often to identify and act upon the policies that make good design impossible to implement

it is wisest to keep the old code intact, while offering the new code as a parallel alternative. It would be optional, but made attractive by an accelerated permitting process.

One might posit that it is precisely because there is no process for public participation at the regional scale that such projects are often successfully opposed by local residents

Those issues which can be handled effectively only at a regional level—transportation, environmental quality, water and waste management, social services, affordable housing, economic development, higher education, etc.—must be addressed comprehensively, so that individual cities and towns no longer have to struggle with them alone or, worse yet, in competition

ecosystem—must be considered, by the scale of its time, a regional plan. Today,

today – global

Those concerned about the future of their urban region will work to establish metropolitan planning agencies, even if only for economic reasons. As work—especially well-paid work—becomes increasingly independent of place, those cities which lack a healthy regional organization will gradually lose their most productive residents to places that offer shorter commutes, cleaner air, and easier access to both nature and culture.

Over time, the success or failure of these pioneer states in fighting sprawl will show other states which model is worth emulating.

and/unless the sync needed is all levels… globe to atom… ness – ni

The most promising solution may be New Jersey’s recently initiated “tough love” incentive program, in which cities and towns must practice smart growth in order to receive state funding for infrastructure and education.

or not..

By mistaking mobility for accessibility, they undermine the viability of both new and old places by focusing entirely on moving cars through them.

By mistaking mobility for accessibility, they undermine the viability of both new and old places by focusing entirely on moving cars through them. The result—already well documented—is a landscape lacking in destinations worth getting to

Ed ness

Florida has begun to address this phenomenon by refusing to fund the construction of new highways containing more than three non-car-pool lanes in either direction. As a result, in congested cities such as Miami, some transportation funds are now flowing to public transit

If they wish to play a role in the creation of healthy communities, state D.O.T.s must come to view transportation policy as an integral component of a regional land use plan, not just as an autonomous problem with a financial solution.

Unlike education and policing, fields in which more funding may produce better results, increased highway funding consistently makes traffic worse

ha. or so much the same … we’re missing the fractal ness

Of course, if state transportation departments cannot be reformed, they can be overruled

#mockingjay ness

Tax credit programs, in their well-intentioned effort to protect public moneys, enforce criteria that are antithetical to the creation of neighborhoods

many states require unjustifiably oversized building sites, and as a result schools become neighborhood separators rather than community centers.dq

some states have passed laws allowing cities and towns to allocate tax credits or abatements for historic properties. Other states are permitting municipalities to tax land at a higher rate than buildings—“site—value taxation”—to discourage demolitions and land speculation, and to encourage construction where it might ordinarily occur last

if we tax cigarettes to pay for anti-smoking ads, we can certainly tax gasoline to pay for trolleys.

After decades of government policies that seem to have been dedicated to the building business rather than to building communities, we have much to change.

Growth cannot be stopped; it never has been. The only hope is to shape it into a more benevolent form, the neighborhood

Planners and other professionals are specialists who, when left to themselves, distort the issues. Only generalists can be trusted to offer reasonable advice. • The role of the generalist must be played by citizens, but citizens can forfeit that role by becoming the specialists of their own backyard.

The immediate challenge, however, is not to convince people to support community but to confirm what they already know in their hearts:

yes .. that. so doable/accessible .. if we remember/focus on the message/narrative/means that is already. written on each heart. to find that? time and space and permission – to talk to self… how to be you via literally redefine.. via people experiment


CityLab (@CityLab) tweeted at 6:06 AM – 17 Oct 2018 :
City planner and author @JeffSpeckAICP gives us a step-by-step guide to fixing America’s cities.


Jeff Speck (@JeffSpeckAICP) tweeted at 6:38 AM on Wed, Oct 24, 2018:
It is clear why the city of zones is the exact opposite of the walkable city. If nothing is close to anything different, and the only connection is a single fat roadway, then the population is automatically conscripted into driving. (1/3)

siddiqi border law


walk able

walkable city rules

all the typical/expected things: bike able ness..  parking.. street trees.. transit.. and then these stood out to me


6 – invest in attainable housing.. dense housing central to walkability


9 – fix codes.. eliminate legal barriers to mixed use


12 – encourage granny flats..


27 – don’t widen roads or build new ones to fight congestion


31 – focus on speeding


77 – build naked streets and shared spaces

naked streets

city ness