Posts tagged theatlantic
Posts tagged theatlantic
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.
Cities like Berkeley, Arlington and Cambridge experienced something different. Even as they cut back on surface parking, the number of people and jobs climbed upward, as did incomes. Less parking in these places has meant the urban fabric can be stitched back together and there is more space for shops, restaurants, jobs and other things that make cities great. More importantly, the parking isn’t needed. People own cars at higher rates, but they don’t use them as much. Instead, they live close to the urban core where upwards of 30 percent walk or bike to work.
Saskatoon still has not figured out this concept. The car is god here, leaving us with longer and longer commutes, a downtown wasteland of parking lots, and detached and isolated citizens who don’t know their neighbours.
It is true that our transit sucks and our winters are cold. But let’s have a radical vision, that really isn’t all that radical, because many, many other cities have already figured it out. More roads does not equal less traffic. Cities should not be built for cars but for people.