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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: Carfree Design Manual review

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  • 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 1 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



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