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Walkable City (2012)

af Jeff Speck

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3771253,373 (4.18)11
Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that's easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at. Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities. Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.… (mere)
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Really like this one--I'm on an urban-planning kick, and to a certain extent some books are running into others--but Speck's background (he's worked with Duany and Plater-Zyberk) and his focus on real, specific suggestions for improving cities, kept this book humming along.

I've learned so many things that I'd never even considered before, an example would be his suggestion that metered street parking be priced high enough that it's only ever around 85% full--because if too cheap, too many people will opt to drive, not find anywhere to park, and drive around and around, circling, until finally they luck into a spot (one study showed that after 6:00pm, in their particular city the vast majority of traffic downtown consisted of hopeful parkers circling, which is self-evidentally a horrid unenvironmental practice).

This sort of sensible, data-driven, obvious-when-pointed-out information permeates the pages. Greatly recommended.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Oct 13, 2020 |
This was more amusing and informative than I expected. I am seriously considering getting a copy for each of our city council members. ( )
  Chris.Bulin | Oct 1, 2020 |
I live in a very walkable area, and recently relocated to an even more connected neighborhood. I found myself nodding along with much of this book. It's great to be able to walk safely, but it's even better when there's a reason to walk. Being able to do my shopping on foot and being able to easily connect to a wider transportation grid is life changing. I already rolled my eyes every time I walked past the new apartments with a giant garage being built directly across the street from a subway station with plentiful zipcars one block away, but now I want to knock heads together. ( )
  duchessjlh | Nov 19, 2019 |
Awesome introduction to strong cities based on walkability as a necessary condition for generating that strength.

Part 1, Why Walkability: Exposition connecting walkability to desirable cities, improved public health and safety, and more efficient use of resources.

Part 2, The Ten Steps of Walkability: A city planning framework to build towards effective, walkable urbanism. Covers cars, parking, transit, pedestrians, public spaces, bikes, trees, and more. Examples include both large and small cities, some of which are the author's own projects. It's nice to see that this isn't presented as a one-size-fits-all solution—these steps are prescribed with a sensitivity to the size and existing conditions of a given city. ( )
  stonecrops | May 18, 2016 |
I browsed this just because I like to think about environmental design. Speck came up with some interesting data. He claims that a 50 minute commute translates into an emotional cost equal to $16,000 a year. He doesn't tell where that comes from, but that about sums up my current situation. My office moved that distance, and my connections to my community have been all but severed because of it.

His discussion of the details is fascinating, and he provides many examples from cities all over the globe. ( )
  2wonderY | May 15, 2015 |
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Not related to Mary Soderstrom's "The walkable city : from Haussmann's boulevards to Jane Jacobs' streets and beyond" (2008), https://www.librarything.com/work/6355015
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Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that's easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at. Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities. Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.

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