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RE: [carfree_cities] The hard activist yards vs. the fantasy and vision

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  • Ronald Dawson
    ... Consider roads in general, in 1985 US Route 66 (famous for John Steinbeck s Grapes of Wrath ) was officially decommissioned, it was replaced by the
    Message 1 of 10 , May 2, 2000
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      Jym wrote:
      >>> It's not a dream--they've already spent millions tearing down
      >>> freeways in the USA--first in San Francisco (Embarcadero
      >>> Freeway) ...
      >> One thing that helped get the ball rolling in San Francisco
      >> was that earthquake back in 1989.

      >=v= San Francisco started the Freeway Revolt in the 1960s and it
      >spread nationwide. Many cities have pockets of car-free charm
      >that were poised to be paved over until that revolt.

      >=v= But yes, you're right about the earthquake helping out in
      >1989. There's also a populace concerned about street life, who
      >prevented it from simply being replaced by another one. Or who,
      >across the Bay in Oakland, demanded that the replacement be
      >relocated somewhere besides straight through an African-American
      >neighborhood. Contrast this with L.A., where quake-damaged
      >freeways are rebuilt in record time.

      Consider roads in general, in 1985 US Route 66 (famous for John Steinbeck's
      "Grapes of Wrath") was officially decommissioned, it was replaced by the
      Interstates. That's why one doesn't find it on current road maps. Parts of
      it became Interstate while other sections returned to nature. Dawson
    • Mike Lacey
      ... I 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 the only way forward
      Message 2 of 10 , May 2, 2000
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        --- In carfree_cities@egroups.com, jym@e... wrote:
        > >> It's not a dream--they've already spent millions tearing down
        > >> freeways in the USA--first in San Francisco (Embarcadero
        > >> Freeway) ...

        I 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 the
        only way forward is to ruin virgin land with experimental car-free
        cities that may or may not work.

        Achievements in SF
        1) In 1950s and 60s, stopped the interstate system in its tracks,
        overturning plans to web SF with elevated and subterranean freeways.
        2) 1970s, inaugartated BART, at the time the world's most advanced
        rapid transit system, which now carries a record number of passengers
        beneath the bay at 1/3 to 1/2 the time for driving.
        3) 1970s, inaugarated golden Gate transit, a system of luxury buses
        and boats. Result: today the same number of vehicles use GG bridge as
        in 1970. (Not progress - but significant)
        4) 1989 Pulled down the frightful double decker Emabarcadero freeway
        and replaced with metro rail tracks, ferry building plaza and
        beautifully landscaped waterfront.
        5) 1985 Restored streetcar service to Market street after original
        streetcars were re-ruted into subway.
        6) 1998 and 1999 voted to tear down section of (elevated) central
        freeway and replace with landscaped boulevard
        7) 1999 Replcaed 2 lanes of busy Valencia Street with wide bike
        lanes.
        8) 2000 Opened new Pacific Bell Baseball park, most transit friendly
        ballpark in USA. On opening day, 70% used public transit, bike, or
        foot. This despite predictions 10 years ago that the (then) target of
        20% non-car usage would fail miserably.
        9) 2000 Extended Market Street cars around embarcadero to fisherman's
        wharf.

        I'm sure Jym would agree that things are far from perfect in SF, and
        the car is still dominant. But I think this illustrates what can be
        done when one doesn't abandon hope for our older cities.

        Mike
      • J.H. Crawford
        ... In the first instance, there s nothing experimental about carfree cities. That s the way everybody lived just 100 years ago. In the seccond instance, we re
        Message 3 of 10 , May 3, 2000
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          Mike Lacey said:

          >I 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 the
          >only way forward is to ruin virgin land with experimental car-free
          >cities that may or may not work.

          In the first instance, there's nothing experimental about carfree
          cities. That's the way everybody lived just 100 years ago.

          In the seccond instance, we're continuing to tear up virgin land
          at a terrific rate by building sprawl. If these sprawl developments
          were replaced by carfree cities, the amount of land consumed would
          decline by about 80% and the new areas could be served by
          much more efficient rail transport and would be built as mixed-use
          cities in which far less travel is required to meet life's
          daily needs.

          In the final instance, the concepts of the reference design ARE
          applicable to existing cities. I see the redevelopment of the
          world's auto-centric cities as carfree cities as one of the
          most important tasks of the 21st century. We are, however,
          going to need more room to house our growing population,
          until we actually achieve ZPG, so, unless we rebuild at higher
          densities, we're going to have to occupy more land for urban
          uses. I believe that we will need to rebuild at higher densities
          in order to achieve carfree cities, but it's a big, slow job.


          ###

          J.H. Crawford _Carfree Cities_
          postmaster@... http://www.carfree.com
        • Mike Lacey
          ... Yes but most communities then were not planned on mass they grew up in a more organic fashion, and I believe are more beautiful places as a result. ... But
          Message 4 of 10 , May 3, 2000
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            --- In carfree_cities@egroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <postmaster@c...>
            wrote:
            > In the first instance, there's nothing experimental about carfree
            > cities. That's the way everybody lived just 100 years ago.

            Yes but most communities then were not planned on mass they grew up
            in a more organic fashion, and I believe are more beautiful places as
            a result.

            > In the seccond instance, we're continuing to tear up virgin land
            > at a terrific rate by building sprawl. If these sprawl developments
            > were replaced by carfree cities, the amount of land consumed would
            > decline by about 80% and the new areas could be served by
            > much more efficient rail transport and would be built as mixed-use
            > cities in which far less travel is required to meet life's
            > daily needs.

            But there is more than enough room within our existing city limits
            for such development. It breaks my heart to see so-called "New
            Urbanist" communities like Seaside, where once was pristine
            coastline, now there is a soul-less legoland.

            >
            > In the final instance, the concepts of the reference design ARE
            > applicable to existing cities. I see the redevelopment of the
            > world's auto-centric cities as carfree cities as one of the
            > most important tasks of the 21st century. We are, however,
            > going to need more room to house our growing population,
            > until we actually achieve ZPG, so, unless we rebuild at higher
            > densities, we're going to have to occupy more land for urban
            > uses. I believe that we will need to rebuild at higher densities
            > in order to achieve carfree cities, but it's a big, slow job.

            Population growth is one of the most bogus argumunents for churning
            up virgin land. In the US, urban density is so light. SF is the
            second most densely populated City in the US, its population density
            is 15,000 / sq mile,
            Denver is 3,000 / sq mile
            Oklahoma City is 750/ sq mile
            Comapare to
            Paris 53,000 / sq mile
            Netherlands (the whole country!!) 750/ sq mile.

            Population density is not a problem in the US. In fact our cities are
            too lightly populated - they need to fill out from the inside. The
            last thing we need is yet more cities.
            In SF, everytime a parking lot is turned into a four story apartment
            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.

            Mike
          • J.H. Crawford
            ... Christopher Alexander proposed in _A New Theory of Urban Design_ a methodology for achieving the qualities that are common to areas that grew organically,
            Message 5 of 10 , May 4, 2000
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              Mike Lacey wrote:

              >Yes but most communities then were not planned on mass they grew up
              >in a more organic fashion, and I believe are more beautiful places as
              >a result.

              Christopher Alexander proposed in _A New Theory of Urban Design_ a
              methodology for achieving the qualities that are common to areas
              that grew organically, over a period of centuries. I agree that in
              general these areas are the most beautiful of all urban environments,
              but it is worth remembering that Amsterdam's famed 16th-century
              "Grachtengordel" (canal belt) was perhaps the world's first
              PUD (Planned Unit Development). This area was masterplanned, on
              paper, in about 1600 and built out, in close accord with the plan,
              over the following 75 or so years. I think that this shows that
              modern planning failures are not the result of all-at-once planning
              so much as a lack of understanding about how to make nice urban
              areas. While gridirons are very easy to design and lay down, they
              do not, IMHO, make for especially nice cities, although they can
              be pretty good, as in the Baixa area of Lisbon, a master-planned
              redevelopment following the devastating 1755(?) earthquake. From
              the drawings I have seen, the earlier, medieval development must
              have been even nicer.

              >But there is more than enough room within our existing city limits
              >for such development. It breaks my heart to see so-called "New
              >Urbanist" communities like Seaside, where once was pristine
              >coastline, now there is a soul-less legoland.

              There's plenty of room within most existing American cities
              for redevelopment at higher density (Warning: don't try this
              in Manhattan!). Most European city centers do not have much in the
              way of brownfield sites, however. I've not seen Seaside, but
              I think the characterization as soul-less is probably a little
              harsh. Remember also: some of the most beautiful landscapes in
              the world are man-made. Take, for example, the rice terraces
              of Bali. 100% human-transformed landscape, beautiful beyond
              description. We don't have to make ugly places. It's just a
              bad habit, left over from the 20th C.

              >Population growth is one of the most bogus argumunents for churning
              >up virgin land.

              It's a very real argument in many parts of the world. I agree that
              most US cities could simply draw a line around the city, somewhat
              INSIDE the outer limit of existing development, and say: "no more
              development outside this line." Most cities in the USA, when seen
              from the air, have huge patches that are ripe for development, many
              of them in or near downtown.

              >Population density is not a problem in the US.

              Please remember that we're not talking only about the USA on this list.
              The issue, however, is also that in places like China, people would
              prefer to have more than the current 50 or 100 square feet per
              person. Given that Chinese cities are already pretty dense, this
              can't really be achieved without using up some non-urban land.
              China has to minimize this becuase most of the land under
              consideration is agricultural, a commodity in short supply there.
              When China was considering the adoption of American auto-centric
              development patterns, the prospects for China continuing to feed
              itself were very grim. It appears that China has stepped back from
              this decision, although this has not been formally announced as
              far as I know.

              >The potential for density increase in
              >exsting [US] cities is almost infinite, the demand is enormous.

              Agreed.

              Latest statistic from Europe (I think) is that for every parking
              space removed from a city, THREE new pedestrians appear.


              ###

              J.H. Crawford _Carfree Cities_
              postmaster@... http://www.carfree.com
            • Mike Lacey
              ... Yes, I agree. Much of Paris was planned too (Hausman). ... And many other cases: Barcelona, San Francisco, Edinburgh NewTown district. Gridirons are not
              Message 6 of 10 , May 4, 2000
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                --- In carfree_cities@egroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <postmaster@c...>
                wrote:
                > I think that this shows that
                > modern planning failures are not the result of all-at-once planning
                > so much as a lack of understanding about how to make nice urban
                > areas.

                Yes, I agree. Much of Paris was planned too (Hausman).

                > While gridirons are very easy to design and lay down, they
                > do not, IMHO, make for especially nice cities, although they can
                > be pretty good, as in the Baixa area of Lisbon

                And many other cases: Barcelona, San Francisco, Edinburgh "NewTown"
                district. Gridirons are not in themselves problematic, and in my
                experience can often be pedestrian friendly.

                > There's plenty of room within most existing American cities
                > for redevelopment at higher density (Warning: don't try this
                > in Manhattan!). Most European city centers do not have much in the
                > way of brownfield sites, however.

                But outside of the City Centres they often do.
                I apologize for speaking US-centrically. I should no better, I am
                British (lived my entire childhood there). Its just that America is
                such a great case study, the belly-of-the-beast as it were. I tend to
                think of Europe as the solution not the problem. (Though I,m sure
                you'll put me right!)

                > I've not seen Seaside, but
                > I think the characterization as soul-less is probably a little
                > harsh.

                I stand by that characterisation. And Celebration (the Disney-
                owned "new-urbanist" community near Orlando) is worse. If this is new-
                urbanism then I'm not a new urbanist.

                > Remember also: some of the most beautiful landscapes in
                > the world are man-made. Take, for example, the rice terraces
                > of Bali. 100% human-transformed landscape, beautiful beyond
                > description. We don't have to make ugly places. It's just a
                > bad habit, left over from the 20th C.

                True. I suppose I just think we should get our existing cities right
                before we create new ones. I think humans need to be much more humble
                about the consequences of imposing their order on nature.

                > Latest statistic from Europe (I think) is that for every parking
                > space removed from a city, THREE new pedestrians appear.

                I'm very intersted in that last statistic. If you (or anyone) can
                expand on it I would be very interested. There are a lot of urban
                planners in America (and the world!) who could learn from that.

                Mike
              • jym@econet.org
                ... =v= Aiiee!! While better thant he suburban hell that surrounds the city, that s not the best part of Paris. Those big wide boulevards are wall-to-wall
                Message 7 of 10 , May 4, 2000
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                  >> I think that this shows that modern planning failures are not
                  >> the result of all-at-once planning so much as a lack of
                  >> understanding about how to make nice urban areas.
                  > Yes, I agree. Much of Paris was planned too (Hausman).

                  =v= Aiiee!! While better thant he suburban hell that surrounds
                  the city, that's not the best part of Paris. Those big wide
                  boulevards are wall-to-wall with speeding cars, and they put up
                  thousands of bollards just to keep them off the sidewalks. The
                  Arc de Triomphe is nothing so much as an Arc de Triomphe des
                  Voitures!

                  =v= The best part of Paris is the very center, the old medieval
                  city, with its narrow, winding roads and cobblestones. Indeed,
                  your best bet in most French cities is just to head for the
                  old medieval center of town.
                  <_Jym_>
                • J.H. Crawford
                  ... Sorry, don t have the source. Anyone? ### J.H. Crawford _Carfree Cities_ postmaster@carfree.com
                  Message 8 of 10 , May 5, 2000
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                    >> Latest statistic from Europe (I think) is that for every parking
                    >> space removed from a city, THREE new pedestrians appear.
                    >
                    >I'm very intersted in that last statistic. If you (or anyone) can
                    >expand on it I would be very interested. There are a lot of urban
                    >planners in America (and the world!) who could learn from that.

                    Sorry, don't have the source. Anyone?


                    ###

                    J.H. Crawford _Carfree Cities_
                    postmaster@... http://www.carfree.com
                  • J.H. Crawford
                    ... I have to say that I have a strong personal preference for the medieval areas, too. When I was in Lyon a couple of years ago, I found that the district
                    Message 9 of 10 , May 5, 2000
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                      Jym said:

                      >=v= The best part of Paris is the very center, the old medieval
                      >city, with its narrow, winding roads and cobblestones. Indeed,
                      >your best bet in most French cities is just to head for the
                      >old medieval center of town.

                      I have to say that I have a strong personal preference for the
                      medieval areas, too.

                      When I was in Lyon a couple of years ago, I found that the
                      district west of the rivers was the nicest part, with narrow,
                      crooked streets and the oldest buildings. The peninsula between
                      the rivers is 17th C (or so), and while it's nice, I don't find
                      its gridiron layout as enticing as the earlier parts.


                      ###

                      J.H. Crawford _Carfree Cities_
                      postmaster@... http://www.carfree.com
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