Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Do Cities Cater to Car Drivers or to Pedestrians? At what cost?

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time [Kindle Edition] (321 pages, Jeff Speck, Nov. 13, 2012)

Also discussed here: The walkable city (17 min. video, TED, Sep 2013)

And here: Canada's Most Walkable Cities 2010 (WestJet Up magazine, Apr. 9, 2010)

And here: Parking (Paul Fritz, smalltownurbanism, Feb. 28, 2014)

 Today we review a book by Jeff Speck called the Walkable City which surveys the design of cities when to comes to walkability and the trend toward driving and away from walking in many cities. He points out that among other things, that large surface areas dedicated to parking spaces and taken away from pedestrian malls and urban parks is a prime obstacle to a city’s walkability. There are reasons why cities such as New York, Boston and Portland in the USA or Vancouver or Victoria in Canada are seen as more pedestrian friendly than Dallas or Winnipeg. The measurable impacts are clear as well: obesity and the risk of diabetes is directly related to lack of walkability; the number of car crash deaths is around 12 deaths per 100,000 in the USA compared to 3 in Japan and in walkable cities such as New York and San Francisco (both of which have made great strides in promoting cycling and car free and by pricing parking by demand).

 areas    resised_Shopping_in_GastownTourism Vancouver and John Sinal  

Key Quotes:

" In Walkable City, he persuasively explains how to create rational urban spaces and improve quality of life by containing the number one vector of global environmental catastrophe: the automobile." (David Owen, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Green Metropolis)  

When creating a walkable urban environment, it is extremely important to ‘get the parking right’, and many of our communities have been getting it wrong for decades at the expense of the pedestrian.”

“Parking is expensive to construct, especially when it is structured parking, and maintain. A space in a surface parking lot on inexpensive land costs about $4,000 and parking space in a structured parking garage can cost over $15,000 per space”

“Parking, they suggest, should be priced such that the cost of parking should be set at a level such that an occupancy rate of 80% is established. This would allow that 1 or 2 spaces per block would be available at all times which would reduce the amount of time (and gas) people spend looking for parking.”

“in the '70s, one in 10 Americans was obese.Now one out of three Americans is obese,and a second third of the population is overweight.Twenty-five percent of young men and 40 percent of young women are too heavy to enlist in our own military forces…fully one third of all children born after 2000 will get diabetes.We have the first generation of children in America who are predicted to live shorter lives than their parents”

“If you lived in a more walkable neighborhood,you were 35 percent likely to be overweight.If you lived in a less walkable neighborhood,you were 60 percent likely to be overweight”

“in America, 12 people out of every 100,000die every year from car crashes…in England, it's seven per 100,000.It's Japan, it's four per 100,000.Do you know where it's three per 100,000?New York City.San Francisco, the same thing. Portland, the same thing… if your city is designed around cars,it's really good at smashing them into each other”

“the average Manhattanite is consuming gasoline at the rate the rest of the nation hasn't seen since the '20s,consuming half of the electricity of Dallas…Canadian cities, they consume half the gasoline of American cities.European cities consume half as much again”

“Canada's Most Walkable Cities 2010:
  1. Vancouver
  2. Victoria
  3. Montreal
  4. Toronto
  5. Halifax
  6. Quebec City
  7. Ottawa
  8. Calgary
  9. St. John's
  10. Winnipeg
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