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

Twelve Steps of Sprawl Recovery

Image courtesy of the Village of Providence Twelve steps of sprawl recovery In communities across America sprawl is giving way to more diverse places. Here are a dozen keys to that trend. STEVE MOUZON    FEB. 13, 2018 The storm clouds of sprawl addiction had been gathering for years, but it took the Meltdown and the ensuing Great Recession to make it clear just how damaging that addiction had been to the health of cities across the US and abroad. Sprawl has two really big things going for it, but three even bigger things now going against it which are poised to … 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 But either way there’s a bigger issue at hand: they’re based on outdated data and science from the mid-20th century.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

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

Renovating a Multipurpose Main Street

Greenville Avenue’s new streetscape (Source: City of Dallas)    Streetscape improvements have helped bring back an 18-hour-a-day character to the corridor. Crime has dropped and property values have risen.    Note: This case study was written for the Institute for Transportation Engineers new bookImplementing Context Sensitive Design on Multimodal Thoroughfares, funded by the Federal Highway Administration. Greenville Avenue is the main street of a 1920s “streetcar suburb,” Lower Greenville, four miles from downtown Dallas, Texas. The context had become automobile-oriented over the years as space was given over to motor vehicles and the design allowed for speeds uncomfortable to pedestrians. Businesses … Read more

65 Reasons Why Urbanism Works

Office space bordering Bryant Park in New York garner 63% higher rents than those one block away, thanks the economic value of urban parks. CreativeCommons image by Hazel Borys. RESEARCH 65 reasons why urbanism works Studies that quantify how urban places affect human, economic, and environmental wellness are essential to building the political will for change. HAZEL BORYS    NOV. 21, 2017 “Reconciliation is making peace with reality, our ideals, and the gap in between,” via Her Honour, Janice C. Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. Much of our work at PlaceMakers is about redirecting the trajectory of where we are headed with … 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. 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 on the speed at … Read more

Do not Forget Oxnard Boulevard

Oxnard Boulevard is key to downtown revitalization success. We must not forget Oxnard Boulevard. Oxnard City revitalization must not ignore Oxnard Boulevard and only concentrate on the areas around Plaza Park. I strongly feel that only when Oxnard revitalizes Oxnard Boulevard, will Oxnard’s downtown come fully alive: Remove the medians from 3rd  (where Oxnard Blvd widens going south) to 9th Streets and feathering to Wooley Paint a curbside parking lane on both sides of Oxnard Blvd in front of all businesses from 3rd to Wooley Paint (inexpensive) bulb-outs at all intersections from 4th (Oxnard Transportation Center) Street to 9th – extending thoughtfully towards … Read more

The Public Realm

The Public Realm Complete streets are more than bike lanes, crosswalks, sidewalks, and vehicle lanes; they are buildings that engage the people in the right of way. Well-designed plazas, squares, and greens are framed by landscape design and architecture that relates to local culture, history, and climate. New urbanists have long advanced the idea that the public realm ties cities together and is a potential source of joy and inspiration to all citizens. Former Bogota mayor Enrique Peñalosa may have said it best: “Great public space is a kind of magical good. It never ceases to yield happiness. It is almost … Read more