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Walkable City by Jeff Speck
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Walkable City (2012)

by Jeff Speck

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I browsed this just because I like to think about environmental design. Speck came up with some interesting data. He claims that a 50 minute commute translates into an emotional cost equal to $16,000 a year. He doesn't tell where that comes from, but that about sums up my current situation. My office moved that distance, and my connections to my community have been all but severed because of it.

His discussion of the details is fascinating, and he provides many examples from cities all over the globe. ( )
  2wonderY | May 15, 2015 |
Eminently readable manifesto for reviving not just American cities by making them cities for people not cars. This one pushed all my buttons - cyclist, pedestrian, public transport user, greenie, art and architecture nerd - but you don't have to be all those things to learn from this book. If we want to save the planet and boost the economy we need to remake our towns and cities on a human scale. Jeff Speck doesn't just say what needs to be done he says why, and backs it up with reference to research and case studies. Which may sound dull, but this book is very readable and also laugh out loud funny. A must read for everyone who can influence design of their urban and suburban spaces - but in particular Mayors. (I suspect my Mayor may already have read this). I bought this at a Lecture by the author and also recommend following him on Twitter @JeffSpeckAICP. ( )
  Figgles | May 14, 2014 |
Urban space ( )
  zbigniew | Apr 15, 2014 |
A city planner by trade, Speck is aware of what works and doesn't work in creating and maintaining thriving metropolises. He blames many of his fellow planners for the big mistakes of repeatedly designing cities for the swift movement of cars and then for places to park those cars, destroying the city in the process. The obvious solution is to make the city more "walkable" but many efforts to design cities as a place to walk have failed as well, often due to their half-hearted nature or lack of understanding of what makes a city walkable. To address this, Speck created a ten step list (cited in its entirety below) with each chapter describing the facets involved in creating truly walkable city.
The Useful Walk
Step 1. Put Cars in Their Place.
Step 2. Mix the Uses.
Step 3. Get the Parking Right.
Step 4. Let Transit Work.
The Safe Walk
Step 5. Protect the Pedestrian.
Step 6. Welcome Bikes.
The Comfortable Walk
Step 7. Shape the Spaces.
Step 8. Plant Trees.
The Interesting Walk
Step 9. Make Friendly and Unique Faces.
Step 10. Pick Your Winners.
I read a lot of books about urbanism, city planning, walking, and bicycling (and against the prioritizing of automobiles), so I'm the proverbial choir being preached too. Speck's book clearly states the advantages of his model to everyone, and enunciates the steps in getting to that point. For these reasons, this is the book I'd hand to an automobile-focused doubter to read and think it would have a great chance of making an impression.

Favorite Passages:
“The General Theory of Walkability explains how, to be favored, a walk has to satisfy four main conditions: it must be useful, safe, comfortable, and interesting. Each of these qualities is essential and none alone is sufficient. Useful means that most aspects of daily life are located close at hand and organized in a way that walking serves them well. Safe means that the street has been designed to give pedestrians a fighting chance against being hit by automobiles; they must not only be safe but feel safe, which is even tougher to satisfy. Comfortable means that buildings and landscape shape urban streets into ‘outdoor living rooms,’ in contrast to wide-open spaces, which usually fail to attract pedestrians. Interesting means that sidewalks are lined by unique buildings with friendly faces and that signs of humanity abound.”
“Since midcentury, whether intentionally or by accident, most American cities have effectively become no-walking zones. In the absence of any larger vision or mandate, city engineers—worshipping the twin gods of Smooth Traffic and Ample Parking—have turned our downtowns into places that are easy to get to but not worth arriving at.”
“Engineers design streets for speeds well above the posted limit, so that speeding drivers will be safe—a practice that, of course, causes the very speeding it hopes to protect against.” ( )
1 vote Othemts | Dec 29, 2013 |
Fantastic treatise on how to fix what's wrong with most of America's sprawling cities (and what is right in some of our biggest and best cities). I do not understand how any urban planner, having seen the evidence in this book, does not then follow its precepts. There will always be plenty of people in this country that want the country/suburban life, but as Speck points out, the number of those looking for a more lively urban lifestyle is growing and we need to have great cities! He says walks should be useful (by having mixed use, limited traffic, and good transit), safe (by protecting the pedestrian and encouraging biking), comfortable (by shaping space and planting trees) and interesting. One stat that stuck in my mind from this read is that a 23 minute commute is the equivalent knock on one's happiness to taking a 19% pay cut! For me, along with The Read-Aloud Handbook, one of the most important books I have read recently. Highly recommended. ( )
  saholc | Dec 3, 2013 |
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This is not the next great book on American cities.
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Not related to Mary Soderstrom's "The walkable city : from Haussmann's boulevards to Jane Jacobs' streets and beyond" (2008), https://www.librarything.com/work/6355015
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Book description
The Useful Walk
Step 1. Put Cars in Their Place.
Step 2. Mix the Uses.
Step 3. Get the Parking Right.
Step 4. Let Transit Work.
The Safe Walk
Step 5. Protect the Pedestrian.
Step 6. Welcome Bikes.
The Comfortable Walk
Step 7. Shape the Spaces.
Step 8. Plant Trees.
The Interesting Walk
Step 9. Make Friendly and Unique Faces.
Step 10. Pick Your Winners.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374285810, Hardcover)

Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability.
     The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that’s easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at.
     Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities.
     Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that's easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at. Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities. Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.… (more)

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