RE: [carfree_cities] The hard activist yards vs. the fantasy and vision
- J H Crawford wrote:
>It's not a dream--they've already spent millions tearing downOne thing that helped get the ball rolling in San Francisco was that
>freeways in the USA--first in San Francisco (Embarcadero Freeway),
>Portland (the freeway along the river), and now probably in Milwaukee.
earthquake back in 1989. Dawson
- MI think San Francisco needs to be held up as an example to all those
> who think changing our existing cities is a pipe dream, and that theI am glad you posted the list of San Francisco's achievement in preventing and
> only way forward is to ruin virgin land with experimental car-free
> cities that may or may not work.
undoing mistakes. It is terribly tempting plan from scratch rather than work many
solutions to the problem. But we must work with what is.
So, throw this to everyone who has the tiniest hint of a solution -- what would
you do to de auto Los Angeles?
I am convinced that small solutions, small accomplishments will raise hope and
confidence that the problem can be solved.
Every solution, every effort is worth hearing about.
For the American Midwest, I think some town councils could be pushed to require as
part of road improvement that a very wide sidewalk, wide as car lane, suitable for
both pedestrians and bicycles, be part of the package. If a township widens a
mile of road, then that mile should have a parallel bike/sidewalk lane built at the
same time. It would not be as expensive as building road because it would not
need the weight bearing foundation.
The point of making safe pedestrian and bike ways is that it would provide an
alternative that is not present in a lot of sprawl subdivisions. There is no
certain connection between points except by auto!
- Martha wrote:
-- what do you do to de-automobilize Los Angeles?
I believe the biggest obstacle is the average citizen's complete lack of
experience in what life is like in more densely built-up urban areas.
People don't have to grow up in real cities to appreciate them, but I
think it takes at least some first-hand experience visiting them to
truly understand the high quality of life available in a walkable city.
The nimby's and the density-phobes are probably never going to let
anyone build a carfree city in an existing American suburb. At least as
long as cheap gas remains available. But right now there are many
places where a single complete carfree test district could be built-up.
With careful planning and wide participation by all interested parties,
a carfree district like the one proposed by Crawford could quickly
become a genuine model of a real, walkable, villiage-like community,
with sufficient wholeness, completeness and urban amenity to inspire
suburbanites for miles around.
There's a large abandoned industrial brownfield site on the edge of
Ventura that comes to mind. Several architects, planners and city
officials who sit on the redevelopment agency in charge of figuring out
what to do with this site will be sitting in an assembly room this
Friday night, listening to J.H. Crawford speak. Send good vibes.
- Mike Lacey wrote:
Yes but most communities then were not planned on mass they grew up in a
more organic fashion, and believe are more beautiful places as a result.
It is true that the wonderful organic beauty of great Old-World cities
cannot be replicated on mass. It requires time, patience, sensitive
design skills and craftsmanship. It can, however, be planned for (see
'A Pattern Language', and 'A New Theory of Urban Design', by Christopher
Nobody wants to live in a so-called "planned community". The phrase
reeks of sterility; of one persuasive idiot's "vision" imposed upon the
hapless masses. Central Paris would not be the superlative thing of
beauty it remains today though, if not for the extensive, brilliant
plans that have been executed and refined there over the years. Many
small, semi-rural areas of the American midwest have grown up
"organically", entirely free of the burdens of planning. These 'towns'
are remarkeable only for their fragmented, disorganized, ugliness.
The problem with all the planning that's gone on recently is that all
the planners were/are either Modernists or artless, single-minded
traffic planners with no clue about how to design human spaces. The
planners of previous centuries designed spaces and places with only
human needs in mind, which is why they remain lively, and feel organic.
Seaside is disappointing, for a number of reasons, especially the fact
that to most people it represents the sum of everything that New
Urbanism has to offer. I'm with you in making the densification of
existing urban areas the priority and opposing the destruction of virgin
land. But if Seaside didn't exist, that once pristine coastline would
still be gone. And in its place would probably be something far worse
- Good points Todd.
The key, I believe, is to allow for organic and diverse (multi-
developer) growth within a strict set of pro-smart-city regulations
such as green belts, parking restrictions, transit quotas and minimum
I once read that 70-80% of new developments lack sidewalks - simply
requiring the developer to provide sidewalks would be major step.
--- In email@example.com, "Todd J. Binkley" <tjbink@b...>
> It is true that the wonderful organic beauty of great Old-Worldcities
> cannot be replicated on mass. It requires time, patience, sensitive(see
> design skills and craftsmanship. It can, however, be planned for
> 'A Pattern Language', and 'A New Theory of Urban Design', byChristopher
> Alexander) .the
> Nobody wants to live in a so-called "planned community". The phrase
> reeks of sterility; of one persuasive idiot's "vision" imposed upon
> hapless masses. Central Paris would not be the superlative thing ofMany
> beauty it remains today though, if not for the extensive, brilliant
> plans that have been executed and refined there over the years.
> small, semi-rural areas of the American midwest have grown upThese 'towns'
> "organically", entirely free of the burdens of planning.
> are remarkeable only for their fragmented, disorganized, ugliness.all
> The problem with all the planning that's gone on recently is that
> the planners were/are either Modernists or artless, single-mindedorganic.
> traffic planners with no clue about how to design human spaces. The
> planners of previous centuries designed spaces and places with only
> human needs in mind, which is why they remain lively, and feel
> Seaside is disappointing, for a number of reasons, especially the
> that to most people it represents the sum of everything that Newvirgin
> Urbanism has to offer. I'm with you in making the densification of
> existing urban areas the priority and opposing the destruction of
> land. But if Seaside didn't exist, that once pristine coastlinewould
> still be gone. And in its place would probably be something farworse
> than Seaside.
- I greatly admire Joel Crawford's reference design for a car-free city, but it is only a reference design, not the ideal solution for all cities. Joel is against tree-lined streets, preferring green backyards and a clear distinction between the built city environment and the countryside. He has a point, but many people, like me, love tree-lined avenues and lots of vegetation in the city. There's room for both in different districts of the same city.
Living in Brussels (Belgium, Europe), I appreciate the diversity of architecture here. Traditionally, Belgian developers carve up a plot of land into building plots (a process which is subject to planning permission), but instead of building uniform housing on the whole development, they sell each plot individually. The buyer is either free to engage his own architect and builder and build whatever he likes - within the limits of the outline building permit, which limits the part of the plot which can be built on, the height of the roof, etc., and subject to detailed planning permission - or the developer sells a finished house, but the buyer chooses everything, so every house is different. Uniform housing estates also exist in Belgium, but are the exception rather than the rule.
However much I love this diversity, I also appreciate the clean lines of classic boulevards in Paris, and the beauty of the English Cotswolds, where every building is in local Cotswold stone, and any other building material would destroy the charm. Again, there is room in our cities for uniformity and diversity.
While I would argue for planners to leave as much freedom as possible to individuals to design their own houses, I also think there is room for much more stringent rules to ensure environment-friendly development. Instead of draining the rainwater from our roofs into the sewers, contributing to localised flooding during heavy storms, then pumping our rivers dry to extract drinking water, which we use for a multitude of purposes besides drinking, why not require every house to have a plumbing system collecting rain water from the roof, storing it in an underground tank connected to the taps (faucets) used for watering the garden and washing the car, to toilets and washing machines, with a separate plumbing system supplying mains drinking water to the kitchen and bathroom for drinking, cooking and washing?
Our roofs also provide an ideal site for solar collectors. It is already economic, even in temperate rather than tropical climes, to use solar power to produce hot water - the initially greater cost of the installation is recouped during its lifetime - and it would be cheaper still if it were compulsory, producing huge economies of scale as this marginal technology became mainstream. In sunnier climes, solar panels on each rooftop could generate most of the electricity each household needs, reducing the need for dangerous nuclear power, highly polluting thermal power stations burning fossil fuels, and ugly power transmission cables. These solutions are economic for the individual in the long-term, although initially more expensive, and would do wonders for the environment.
All housing should also comprise an easily accessible space for storing bicycles. Here in Europe, many people own a car and a bike, but still use their car for short local journeys, which would be ideal for a bike, because the only place in their house or apartment where they can store their bike without it getting in the way is the cellar, and it is difficult to get the bike in and out, whereas the car can be parked on the street in front of the house (when I first moved to Brussels, I kept my bike in the lounge; when my wife joined me she insisted I move it to the cellar). Many car journeys could be avoided by designing housing with convenient and secure bike parking. Other people would like to ride a bike, but their accommodation has nowhere suitable for storing it. Vast spaces are occupied by parked cars, but the authorities will not allow a secure bicycle shed to be built on the public highway, allowing several families to store bikes in the space which would otherwise be!
taken up by a single car.
Much of the beautiful architecture in Brussels has been destroyed by the grand designs of transport planners. Much of central Brussels was torn down to allow the construction of the rail link between the North and South stations. Despite this devastation, the overground North and South stations are still the main stations, rather than the underground Central station. Tourists and locals alike are unable to walk comfortably from one beautiful spot to another, because they are separated by the wide roads and tunnels of the inner ring road. Long road tunnels link the motorways to the city centre, bringing in huge numbers of cars which simply won't fit into the city centre, provoking horrid congestion and pollution. And vast swathes of the inner suburbs were razed to the ground to build the metro ("cut and cover" is much cheaper than tunnelling). The once extensive tram network has been progressively dismantled, as the busiest sections have been replaced by the metro, and most oth!
er sections have been removed because they were perceived to get in the way of cars, and replaced by buses. Only recently have the city planners started to build reserved sites for trams and buses so that public transport can move faster than the congested car traffic, thus providing an incentive to use public transport, which in turn reduces the number of cars on the road and makes the remaining cars move faster.
Many of us are convinced that Brussels would have been better off without a metro system, but with trams running everywhere on reserved sites and with systematic priority over cars at intersections. The metro was designed to get public transport out of the way of cars - and because of the prestige which a metro lends to a small city like Brussels, pretending to be a big city like Paris or London - rather than to offer efficient mass transit. There are now plans to build an RER (like in Paris) - a mass transit system linking Brussels to the dormitory suburbs and nearby cities. The reasoning is that only such a prestige system can entice car drivers onto public transport, and the refusal to give trams and buses priority over cars on our crowded roads, because the car lobby opposes any reallocation of road space.
- Mike Lacey said:
>I once read that 70-80% of new developments lack sidewalks - simplyMy, how low we've fallen. The notion of accommodating the
>requiring the developer to provide sidewalks would be major step.
pedestrian is now seen as unecessary and too costly.
How is it that anyone ever permitted developers to
When I visited relatives in Ormond Beach FL recently, I
noticed that their suburban sprawl, built around 1965,
did have sidewalks. However, on a morning walk, I noticed
that the sidewalks petered out just a few streets north
(i.e., built a few years later). Strange world.
J.H. Crawford _Carfree Cities_
- Martha Torell wrote:
>> In SF, everytime a parking lot is turned into a four story apartmentOh, Martha since your in Michigan, I found some URLs that might be of
>> the place fills up before it is built. I'm sure the same applies in
>> New York, Chicago, Philly etc. The potential for density increase in
>> exsting cities is almost infinite, the demand is enormous.
>Very good point about the demand. In Royal Oak, Michigan by no means
>an SF, a few blocks of old grid suburb were bought and razed. The
>suburb just happened to be be adjacent to a newly widened 696. Luxury
>condos were built. The population density was higher than the old
>suburb, even with its old fashioned small lots and houses. The condos
>not only sold before they were built, but they had increased in value so
>much that many of the buyers resold them at a enormous profit before
>they even moved in!
interest to you. Dawson
> In SF, everytime a parking lot is turned into a four story apartmentVery good point about the demand. In Royal Oak, Michigan by no means
> the place fills up before it is built. I'm sure the same applies in
> New York, Chicago, Philly etc. The potential for density increase in
> exsting cities is almost infinite, the demand is enormous.
an SF, a few blocks of old grid suburb were bought and razed. The
suburb just happened to be be adjacent to a newly widened 696. Luxury
condos were built. The population density was higher than the old
suburb, even with its old fashioned small lots and houses. The condos
not only sold before they were built, but they had increased in value so
much that many of the buyers resold them at a enormous profit before
they even moved in!
> Mike Lacey said:This suggests a really innocuous, non-threatening way to advance car
> >I once read that 70-80% of new developments lack sidewalks - simply
> >requiring the developer to provide sidewalks would be major step.
> My, how low we've fallen. The notion of accommodating the
> pedestrian is now seen as unecessary and too costly.
> How is it that anyone ever permitted developers to
> omit sidewalks?
free living. A developer could hardly object to that requirement
coming from a city council. Sidewalks. Sidewalks wide enough to allow
two people to walk comfortably side by side. World's full of joggers
now. Developers around here are beginning to feel the squeeze, no one
likes sprawl or the people who build it. Developers promise little
parks, and get stoplights put in and power lines moved. Wide sidewalks
would be a small concession.
When cities are rated as good or bad places to live, is the number of
miles of sidewalk part of that consideration? It should be.