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Carfree Design Manual review

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  • J.H. Crawford
    Hi All, Todd Littman of VTPI has just posted a review of Carfree Design Manual at Planetizen: http://www.planetizen.com/node/42838 I m glad to see this, as
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 8, 2010
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      Hi All,

      Todd Littman of VTPI has just posted a review
      of Carfree Design Manual at Planetizen:

      http://www.planetizen.com/node/42838

      I'm glad to see this, as there have been very
      few reviews so far.

      Best,

      Joel



      ----- ### -----
      J.H. Crawford . Carfree Cities
      mailbox@... . http://www.carfree.com
    • chbuckeye
      The review is very brief. The reviewer is critical of the scope of the book, however, and contradicts himself in some ways, but in the end recommends it.
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 9, 2010
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        The review is very brief. The reviewer is critical of the scope of the book, however, and contradicts himself in some ways, but in the end recommends it.

        "Planning practitioners should find plenty of inspiration in the book, but are likely to be frustrated by the lack of practical guidance for dealing with common planning problems. Crawford has strong opinions: he insists on totally car free cities with only grudging respect for New Urbanism or other incremental change. Much of his analysis assumes greenfield development: a parcel of land upon which a new neighborhood or entire city will be built, controlled by a central authority that has virtually unlimited control of urban design and management. There is little guidance for planners in existing communities who may want to support incremental change toward more multi-modal development. Such neighborhoods could be called "car light," but are usually described as walkable communities or transit oriented development."

        I am only halfway through the book, but I suspect the reviewer's opinion would be shared by many. Although I sympathize with the frustration, I don't think that the intent was to provide a manual for incrementally converting a car-based development into a carfree one. I think the principles/concepts in the book CAN be used to develop such an incremental transition plan, however.

        I also disagree with the emphasis in this brief review that the book assumes greenfield development. Any development is easier if you can start with a clean slate, but the ideas in this book can be used in any development.

        In fact, I can imagine a situation (not described, or at least not yet at the point where I am in the book) that our author could find favor with, better than greenfield development. Consider a brownfield development within a city, particularly in an old "rustbelt" city like Cleveland or Detroit, incorporating both empty lots and existing buildings in a new framework of streets to create carfree districts according to the guidelines in the book. Based on the stated preference in the book for cities created over generations rather than overnight, the book seems to suggest that the proposed development that incorporates existing buildings into a new street framework would be preferable to greenfield development.

        So far in my reading, the book has described desirable features of cities, such as plazas, building height, street width, etc. None of these require greenfield development and the concepts could be applied to existing areas equally well. The book does not say or imply that these concepts cannot be applied in making incremental changes to a car-based development, even if it does not describe in detail how to implement an incremental transition from autocentric to carfree development.

        I also disagree that the book assumes control by a central planner of a development, and even having said that the reviewer seems to contradict that point in a preceding paragraph. I don't think I have reached that point in the book, but the reviewer suggests that the book at the very least provides ideas on how to plan a carfree district or city by involving users and using the internet.

        "Crawford's book provides detailed discussion of carfree design concepts, [including] the principles by which they can be implemented. His analysis begins with the most general concepts and works down to economic and engineering details, such as how to design communities (involve users), the best method to allocate land (use the Internet to allow households to bid for the properties that best reflect their preferences for location and building type), and to where to locate utility lines (bury them)."

        I can only hope that more planners and designers and architects read Carfree Cities and the Carfree Design Manual so that more carfree development will take place. The photographs alone in both books are amazing.

        A university campus perhaps? Brownfield redevelopment in a nearly-abandoned section of Detroit? Gather some stakeholders, have them all read the books and let's get to work!

        Foraker

        --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > Hi All,
        >
        > Todd Littman of VTPI has just posted a review
        > of Carfree Design Manual at Planetizen:
        >
        > http://www.planetizen.com/node/42838
        >
        > I'm glad to see this, as there have been very
        > few reviews so far.
        >
        > Best,
        >
        > Joel
        >
        >
        >
        > ----- ### -----
        > J.H. Crawford . Carfree Cities
        > mailbox@... . http://www.carfree.com
        >
      • J.H. Crawford
        Hi All, I d like to respond to a couple of points Foraker raised. First of all, the book DOES focus on greenfield sites, as we will be building more new cities
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 9, 2010
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          Hi All,

          I'd like to respond to a couple of points Foraker raised.

          First of all, the book DOES focus on greenfield sites,
          as we will be building more new cities in the next 50
          years that in all of previous history. (China alone
          will double its urban population.)

          That said, I do believe that many of the principles
          enumerated and some of the methods proposed can be
          used for converting existing cities to the carfree
          model. However, conversions are a messy, complex
          business and the methods will have to be adjusted
          to fit local conditions. I am, in fact, now writing
          a series for Carbusters on precisely this topic.
          That discussion is, of necessity, rather brief.
          (The articles are also appearing on Carfree.com
          soon after the initial publication in Carbusters.)

          http://www.carfree.com/conv_lyon.html
          and follow the onward links at page-end

          The measures needed to convert existing cities to
          the carfree model are the subject of a third book.
          I'm not so sure I'm going to be the one to write
          that book, however. The response to CDM has been
          so tepid that I'm not sure I could find a publisher
          for the third book. (This was in part due to a
          major mismanagement of review copies by the US
          distributor.)

          BTW--the reviewer in question, Todd Littman, is
          a very good guy who is quite sympathetic to the
          carfree movement. He sent me a draft of the review
          before publishing it, and I did not suggest any
          changes.

          >I am only halfway through the book, but I suspect the reviewer's opinion would be shared by many. Although I sympathize with the frustration, I don't think that the intent was to provide a manual for incrementally converting a car-based development into a carfree one. I think the principles/concepts in the book CAN be used to develop such an incremental transition plan, however.

          The opportunities ARE somewhat constrained in
          redevelopment/infill/conversion projects. It was
          easier to tackle an already-massive subject by
          limiting the discussion to unbuilt sites. However,
          a lot can be extrapolated from what is proposed
          for empty sites.

          >In fact, I can imagine a situation (not described, or at least not yet at the point where I am in the book) that our author could find favor with, better than greenfield development. Consider a brownfield development within a city, particularly in an old "rustbelt" city like Cleveland or Detroit, incorporating both empty lots and existing buildings in a new framework of streets to create carfree districts according to the guidelines in the book.

          As for redevelopment, give me your old, your tired,
          your poor cities. I'd start with 100 blocks of
          Philadelphia, if anyone is interested. Last I heard
          they were busy bulldozing tens of thousands of brick
          houses on narrow streets. Sounds like a good place
          to begin, if it's not all gone now.

          >Based on the stated preference in the book for cities created over generations rather than overnight, the book seems to suggest that the proposed development that incorporates existing buildings into a new street framework would be preferable to greenfield development.

          One of the interesting things in design is dealing
          with the constraints. Up to a point, constraints are
          not a bad thing. Existing buildings can often be
          worked into a new plan, and I have said this in CDM.

          >I also disagree that the book assumes control by a central planner of a development, and even having said that the reviewer seems to contradict that point in a preceding paragraph. I don't think I have reached that point in the book, but the reviewer suggests that the book at the very least provides ideas on how to plan a carfree district or city by involving users and using the internet.

          In fact, I do believe that future residents should have
          as much influence on planning and especially design as
          can possibly be arranged. We'll be doing a field exercise
          in York the June that will be based on some of the methods
          proposed in CDM.

          Best,

          Joel



          ----- ### -----
          J.H. Crawford . Carfree Cities
          mailbox@... . http://www.carfree.com
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