Posts tagged Urban Planning
Posts tagged Urban Planning
We have a number of formal and informal ways to think about what makes a good walkable community. I’ve written before about the popsicle test (can a child comfortably walk to buy a popsicle and walk back home?), the Halloween test (does the neighborhood attract kids walking door-to-door on Halloween?), and 20-minute neighborhood (can you meet most all of your daily needs within a 20-minute walk or transit ride?).
Walk Appeal… explains several things that were heretofore either contradictory or mysterious. It begins with the assertion that the quarter-mile radius (or 5-minute walk), which has been held up for a century as the distance Americans will walk before driving, is actually a myth.
Both images below are at the same scale, and the yellow dashed line is a quarter-mile radius. On the left is a power center. As we all know, if you’re at Best Buy and need to pick something up at Old Navy, there’s no way you’re walking from one store to another. Instead, you get in your car and drive as close as possible to the Old Navy front door. You’ll even wait for a parking space to open up instead of driving to an open space just a few spaces away… not because you’re lazy, but because it’s such a terrible walking experience.
The image on the right is Rome. The circles are centered on the Piazza del Popolo (North is to the left) and the Green radius goes through the Vittorio Emanuele on the right. People regularly walk that far and then keep on walking without ever thinking of driving.
Read more at: atlanticcites, 30.07.12.
Since it began in 1999, Toronto’s condo boom has added 120,000 units to the city and, in the process, transformed its urban landscape. City leaders are just now beginning to address how to accommodate these new residents.
“In the last decade, the condo boom in Toronto has stacked the skyline with towers. Now, the approximately 250,000 to 275,000 people who live in them say that, in the race to build, city planners and councillors failed to adequately consider how to create neighbourhoods,” reports Dave McGinn. “But the city is finally starting to listen.”
“’I don’t think we anticipated, say, five years ago, or even before that, that this boom was going to continue,’ says Peter Moore, project manager for the City of Toronto. Last month, the city launched the first of its kind series of public consultations to improve conditions for condo dwellers. The initiative is an acknowledgment that Toronto’s condo culture is here to stay.” From poor condo construction to inadequate green space, participants’ concerns extended from inside their units to the larger neighborhood.
“We need to be thinking much more extensively about … condos not as buildings but as part of a neighbourhood,” says Jennifer Keesmaat, the city’s chief planner. “We’re seeing a significant transition in the landscape and the form of the city at this moment that really is the impetus for us beginning to think in new ways about how neighbourhoods are defined in the city.”
By monitoring traffic patterns as well as water and power consumption, Dubuque, Iowa is improving sustainability and engaging its citizens.
Barry M. Popkin’s work as a nutritionist has spanned from Taiwan to South Africa to Mexico and the U.S. He’s the originator of the “nutrition transition” concept, a model for understanding how globalization has led to widespread changes in people’s diets around the world. A professor at the Univestity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Popkin has become well known for his 2009 book, The World Is Fat: The Fads, Trends, Policies, and Products That Are Fattening the Human Race, in which he argues how the global food industry has altered the way we eat, drink and move.
Here, Popkin talks about the complex reasons for why developing nations are adopting America-like food systems, and why reverting back to more traditional, nutritional diets en masse is going to be difficult, to say the least.
Showing an image of sprawled-out Mexico City,Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies, London School of Economics, told the crowd at the Innovative Metropolis conference hosted by the Brookings Institution and Washington University in St. Louis that we are now living in the era of the “endless city.” These cities are endless because they are humungous and also joining up together into megapolises, region-cities. But within the endless city, there are differences. As an example, Burdett said the average commute in Mexico City is 4 hours each way, while it’s just 11 minutes in Hong Kong. In other words, some are strained to the max and not very efficient while others work pretty well.
I found the part about Sao Paulo to truly describe a dysfunctional city. Over 1,000 people commute by helicopter in Sao Paulo, which is the same number as do in New York City and Hong Kong.
Many growing cities are chewing up their ecological functions. “Sao Paulo’s extraordinary city center has only grown outwards, pushing the poor out of the city.” The result: the edges have now been decimated, with people living in shacks right up to the city’s water reservoirs. Parks have almost all been totally consumed. The same story could be told for many other developing world cities.
The article concludes by stating, “Well-connected density is more likely to occur through tighter urban redevelopment projects than through more amorphous sprawled shapes,” and that reducing distances between where people live and where people work is paramount in a city that works well.
The problem/opportunity in many cities, especially prairie cities is that there are no natural barriers that hem the city in. Higher density is confusing for folks who can travel 10 minutes to the edge of the town and watch their dog run away for three days (you know, the old saying). The flat plains do nothing to determine the limits of a city.
The point is the importance of density can be confusing for some people. It takes bold decisions by elected officials and city administration to plot a course for urban centres long-term. It also involves educating people on what a world class city can look-like and be, and also the pit-falls that other cities have experienced. No one should have to take a helicopter to get to their office in the same city, we can at least all agree on that.