Barcelona’s Superblocks: Change the Grid, Change your Neighborhood

Over two years ago, Barcelona set the transportation world aflutter when it announced it would be attempting to reinvent parts of its city by developing a Superblock system by transforming targeted street grids to prioritize people over cars. On selected small street networks large parts of intersections and roadways would be taken back for parks and community gathering. Vehicles would not be banned, but it would redesign the grids so that fast thru-traffic was discouraged thru a series of driving direction changes, street narrowing and speed limits. Thus, almost all vehicles present would be either local residents or people with … Read more

The Copious Capacity of Street Grids

The Commons in Downtown Ithaca. Wikimedia Commons Historic street grids can handle greater traffic of all kinds—so why aren’t we building more of them? ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    JUN. 28, 2018 As far as I have been able to determine, no one has ever scientifically compared the capacity of historic street grids with modern road systems. If they did, this comparison is well hidden—which is amazing because the US has invested trillions of dollars on automobile-oriented street networks on the principle that these networks have greater ability to handle motor vehicles. On the contrary, I propose that historic street grids have greater capacity … Read more

Why Street Grids Have More Capacity

The greater choice offered by well-connected street networks leads to more capacity and efficiency, according to pioneering smart growth engineer Walter Kulash. ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    JUL. 31, 2018 I recently posted “The copious capacity of street grids” making the case that traditional street networks are not just better for walking, biking, and livability, but also offer far greater vehicle capacity. In the comment section, somebody posted a link to a long-forgotten talk by Walter Kulash. Walter Kulash was the original traffic engineer who promoted walkable urbanism. In a presentation to the “Annual Pedestrian Conference” in 1990, Kulash explains the virtues of “Traditional Neighborhood Development,” then a nascent … Read more

Let’s not demonize driving—just stop subsidizing it

“Every car driver ought to pay for the parking space they use—whether it’s in the public or the private realm.” By Joe Cortright 16.2.2017 At City Observatory, we try to stick to a wonky, data-driven approach to all things urban. But numbers don’t mean much without a framework to explain them, and so today we want to quickly talk about one of those rhetorical frameworks: specifically, how we talk about driving. Our wonky perspective tells us that there are lots of problems that stem from the way we use cars: We price roads wrong, so people over use them. Cars … Read more

American Speed Limits Are Based on 1950s Science

Around 40,000 people still die on American roads every year, but technology and data could change that. Ankita Rao Oct 11 2017 Image: Garrett/Flickr Speed limits might make you feel safe, or incredibly frustrated, or both. But either way there’s a bigger issue at hand: they’re based on outdated data and science from the mid-20th century. In the US, our speed limits are derived from old studies, like this one from 1964 by traffic systems researcher David Solomon that looked only at rural roads in the 1950s. In line with conventional thinking, Solomon’s study fuels the premise that speed limits should be based … Read more

Comeback planned for commercial corridor

It’s time for the City of Oxnard to begin to think about how to fix Oxnard Boulevard and Saviers Road. While Oxnard’s main streets have been a state highway for years, now our main streets are waiting to become walkable places that generate economic development for Oxnard. The following article is an example of how one city re-vitalized its main street. “Of the corridor’s 100 acres, 11 percent of the land is vacant. Even where buildings are constructed, a large number are vacant. A market study by Bleakly Advisory Group revealed 165,000 square feet of commercial buildings on the corridor, … Read more

My Transit Density Bill (SB 827): Answering Common Questions and Debunking Misinformation

by Scott Wiener Jan 16, 2018 Our recent announcement of my bill (Senate Bill 827) allowing for more housing near public transportation has drawn a lot of attention, questions, and feedback. Sadly, some have also spread misinformation about the bill. This piece attempts to answer common questions and debunk misinformation. California is in a deep housing crisis — threatening our state’s environment, economy, diversity, and quality of life — and needs an enormous amount of additional housing at all income levels. Mid-rise housing (i.e., not single-family homes and not high rises) near public transportation is an equitable, sustainable, and promising source for new housing. SB 827 … Read more

WHAT DOES A WALKABLE STREET LOOK LIKE?

JANUARY 24, 2018  by RACHEL QUEDNAU You know those games you usually find on the back of a cereal box or in a kids’ magazine that present you with two seemingly identical pictures and ask you to spot the six things that are different in each? Well, here’s a much easier version of that: What differences can you spot in the pictures above? (Hint: There are more than six.) We’re going to talk a little about those differences today and why understanding them is so crucial if we wish to build financially successful cities and towns. WHAT DOES “AUTO-ORIENTED” MEAN? An auto-oriented … Read more

WHY WALKABLE STREETS ARE MORE ECONOMICALLY PRODUCTIVE

Oxnard Boulevard looks like a wasteland because of us. Oxnard’s poor old run down Oxnard Boulevard looks like a wasteland because we do not stand up for our main street. Demonstrate your care for Oxnard Boulevard, by coming to city council meetings week after week, to demand that Oxnard Boulevard become a successful walking and shopping street and district. Economic development does not happen by itself – economic development needs you, the good people of Oxnard, to step up. Seriously. The City Council has lots on its plate, lots of distractions. It’s time to put Oxnard Boulevard, and the economic success of … Read more

Ten rules for cities about automated vehicles

Traditional urbanism evolved over millennia to meet human needs. The adoption of AVs should not be allowed to replace time-tested places with something that would probably make our lives worse. JEFF SPECK    OCT. 16, 2017 Note: This article is based on a talk the author gave to the US Conference of Mayors and CNU. 1) Be afraid One of my favorite books of all times is Technopoly, The Surrender of Culture to Technology, by Neil Postman. In it Postman describes what he calls the technological imperative. What it means to me is this: New technologies that increase convenience are unstoppable, whatever their impact on our … Read more