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

From Vision to Policy, Making New Urbanism Work

“Brilliant podcast on placemaking, public policy, planning departments and the public. I cannot recommend this podcast highly enough.” Editor.   JULY 26, 2018   BY STRONG TOWNS This is our sixth dispatch from the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), which took place in Savannah, Georgia in May. Chuck Marohn attended CNU and hosted a series of in-depth podcast conversations about some of the most pressing topics for cities today, with leaders, thinkers, and activists in a whole range of fields. Now we’re bringing those podcasts to your ears throughout the summer. In this episode, Susan Henderson (principal and director of design at Placemakers), Hazel Borys … 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

What Does It Mean To Build A Vibrant Community?

JULY 12, 2018  BY STRONG TOWNS “Our country was built on place, built on neighbors, built on people helping each other… I think people are yearning for that again and that’s what a downtown does.”— Quint Studer Quint Studer is the founder of the Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization in Pensacola, FL focused on improving the community’s quality of life and moving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties forward. He is a businessman, visionary, entrepreneur and Strong Towns member. His new book is Building A Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America. In this engaging conversation, Chuck Marohn and Quint Studer discuss: … 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

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

It’s Time to Take the Keys Away from Granddad

June 7, 2018 By Howard Blackson III Today, San Diego is failing to accommodate our growth demands. Due to NIMBY (people who oppose any new building with a “Not In My Backyard” attitude) pressure and fear, only downtown towers and greenfield sprawl sites are far enough away from them to secure any development permits. And these aren’t our best places to allow for enough attainable or affordable housing. Big, heavy downtown towers are very expensive. But so are sprawling subdivision roads, fire stations, community centers, parks, and new housing construction costs. Those subdivisions are far away from jobs, necessitate a car for … Read more

APA: Policy Principles for the Nation’s Housing Crisis

Planning policy is changing. The American Planning Association Board of Directors on March 29, 2018 released the following document… Policy Principles for the Nation’s Housing Crisis Our nation is confronting a housing crisis. This crisis varies in scope and specifics from city to city and market to market, but the reality remains that current policies are undermining the broad goal of ensuring housing choice and affordability for all. The shortage of quality affordable housing reinforces inequality and limits access to opportunity, and the lack of housing options hurts the economy and constrains social and economic mobility. Addressing this crisis must be … Read more

World Class Urban Design & Economic Development Education

CityBuilding Express #CBX2018 Why spend 4 days on a tour bus with 50 mayors, developers, city council members, staff planners, supervisors, city managers, urban designers, town architects, economic development experts? For the annual CityBuilding Express (#CBX2018) event of course! There is never a dull moment with this inquisitive outspoken crowd! Nathan Norris photo Riding with 50 others on a tour bus loaded with urbanist nerds may not be your cup of tea, but for people working to make their towns and cities better through progressive economic development and creative urban placemaking – it’s a heady, exciting and dynamic time. Imagine “kicking the … Read more