How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at A TimeBook - 2012
Brimming with keen observations and real-world examples, a city planner and architectural designer who advocates for smart growth and sustainable design presents a practical, necessary and achievable plan for making American cities work.
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.
Jeff Speck is a city planner and a major player in the Mayors' Institute on City Design, a national program that partners city mayors with designers to find a solution for each mayor's worst city-structure headache. After working with hundreds of American mayors, he's concluded one change helps most cities the most: make them easier to walk in. He organizes his book on how to do it in ten steps: specific changes to streets that make cities more walkable. He gives hard evidence that these changes create jobs, increase profits, offer health benefits, attract skilled workers, reduce crime, and make a city more resistant to economic downturns. He does it all in language that is easy, quick, and fun for general readers. The changes he suggests, such as crosswalks and street trees, lower speed limits and two-way streets downtown, and giving more street width to pedestrians and parking, have been proven to work in hundreds of cities and towns for over fifty years. The author's goal is to convince readers: making places walkable works better than building big-box stores, enriching developers, or getting government bailouts to keep jobs and kids from leaving struggling towns, to relieve the crowding of skilled professionals and new businesses into cities like New York and San Francisco, and to make life better for bicycle riders and corporate CEOs alike. He presents what's been proved to work in an entertaining, non-technical format, with some startling statistics (average US middle-class families now work almost four months a year to pay their car costs, firms staying in urban headquarters performed better on the stock market than peers that relocated to suburbs, measures of health and life expectancy are directly related to daily drive time.) Speck's cheerful, clear approach may inspire city residents to make effective development choices a priority for their own neighborhoods. A recommended book for citizens active in their communities, and for people in building, planning, retail, or local government. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Presents a plan for making American cities work that focuses on making downtowns walkable and less attractive to drivers through smart growth and sustainable design.