This report has been developed in response to widespread interest for improving both mobility choices and community character through a commitment to creating and enhancing walkable communities. Many agencies will work toward these goals using the concepts and principles in this report to ensure the users, community and other key factors are considered in the planning and design processes used to develop walkable urban thoroughfares.
Bringing work back to the city
Since 1990, Bay Area residents have been driving nearly 50 million more miles each day. Regionally, transit ridership to work fell from a high of 11.4 percent in 1980 to around 9.4 percent in 2000. Although it has increased slightly since 2000 (to 9.8 percent), Bay Area transit ridership remains less than 10 percent of all commute trips. Meanwhile, our heavy reliance on automobile commutes is one the Bay Area’s chief contributions to climate change. This pattern of driving to work and other destinations — and its resulting environmental impact — stems from the sprawling geography of homes and jobs, and an infrastructure system that builds ever outward.
The smart growth movement has long called attention to the problems with sprawl, but has often been focused on residential sprawl. Yet the dispersion of jobs into suburban and exurban office parks that can never be served by transit is just as much of a threat to the environment as residential…
Bay Area Burden provides a comprehensive analysis of the “cost of place” in nine counties located throughout the San Francisco region by examining the costs and impacts of housing and transportation on Bay Area residents, their neighborhoods, and the environment.
This article concerns the role of children in our communities. A review of research shows that children play a limited role in the decision making processes that shapes their environment. What is more, as they have become increasingly dependent on parental cars for activities and travel, children are loosing touch with their immediate neighbourhoods, a trend reflected in the declining number of children who walk or bike to school. However, Canada adheres to several international commitments enshrining the obligation to take the needs and perspectives of children into account in urban planning. The article draws on a number of research studies, including participatory projects and studies of children’s mobility, to highlight the importance of neighbourhood schools in terms of community life, child development and family well-being.
Walking is nature’s mode of transport. For many people in the developing world, it is the only form of transport. The globe’s rapid urbanization, particularly in low-to-middle income countries, stimulates a high demand for low cost, sustainable urban transport. A well-designed and maintained walking network can satisfy this demand, while contributing to poverty reduction, health benefits, and saved lives. However, the complexities associated with the pedestrian environment often prevent interventions that benefit walkers.
In order to identify needed walkability improvements, an urban area must be evaluated by some standard of measurement. Since walking trips are highly variable and pedestrian activity is not conducive to measurement, this mode is often neglected. By identifying macro-level indicators that appraise the urban provision for pedestrians, municipalities can begin to implement positive changes. The following five dimensions of the walking environment…
Conventional wisdom suggests that the increasing decentralisation of population and employment in US metropolitan areas is to blame for declining public transit mode shares and deteriorating system productivity. Proponents of this view assert that transit performs best when it connects suburbs to central business districts in more centralised urban environments. Our time-series analysis of transit patronage in Atlanta suggests that the previously reported secular decline in transit patronage is attributable to employment decentralisation outside the MARTA service area but that this can be reduced if the transit system makes decentralising employment reachable.
What is a shrinking city?
A shrinking city in one where substantial and sustained population loss (20 percent or greater) has occurred over a period of at least forty years, while the physical footprint of the city has remained the same. This results in a dysfunctional real estate market (much more supply than demand) and a surplus of underutilized public infrastructure. The remaining residents and businesses are burdened with higher taxes as the city tries to maintain its infrastructure for a significantly reduced population. In a shrinking city, population and economic growth are not anticipated in the foreseeable future, resulting in continued dysfunction in the market.
Shrinkage exhibits itself in vacant and abandoned properties. These sites become magnets for illicit activities including arson, vandalism, drug dealing, and prostitution. As both a “symptom and a disease” (Burchell & Listokin, 1981, p. 15), property abandonment challenges cities across the U.S.
For many Americans density is associated with ugliness, crowding, and congestion, even though it can be shown that, when properly planned and executed, higher density can save land, energy, and dollars. Moreover, many people—including some trained planners and designers—have difficulty estimating density from visual cues or distinguishing quantitative (measured) and qualitative (perceived) density. We tend to overestimate the density of monotonous, amenity-poor developments and underestimate the density of well-designed, attractive projects, thereby reinforcing the negative stereo•types. A primary objective of this work is to correct these misperceptions.
This book was commissioned by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to help planners, designers, public officials, and citizens better understand—and better communicate to others—the concept of density as it applies to the residential environment. The need for such a work is borne out repeatedly by participants in…
Previous literature has suggested that the urban form (i.e., city size, density, and center distribution pattern) influences urban energy consumption. It has been argued that more dense development is likely to result in more energy-efficient and sustainable cities. However, very little is known about the precise magnitude of possible energy savings from more compact urban form. Moreover, practically no research has been done to investigate which urban policies are likely to be effective in making cities more energy efficient and to quantify those potential energy savings.
In this paper we discuss the potential effectiveness of urban policies at improving energy efficiency. First, we analyze several abstract scenarios suggested by the literature to see whether making a previously dispersed city more compact would result in improved energy efficiency. Then we model realistic transportation and land-use policies and examine whether those policies are likely to reduce energy…