October 6th 2014

Walkable City . How Downtown can save America one step at a time. Jeff Speck

English: A car of the Portland Streetcar syste...

Walkable City . How Downtown can save America one step at a time. Jeff Speck. 2012.  ISBN 9780865477728. The author, a city planner /designer has written an urban yet very readable guide to helping cities get away from their car addictions.  Many of our local public forums return to keeping our city( New Westminster) a walkable city.  Specks book is a great first step in seeing what can be and is being done in many places.  He does an excellent job of stipping us of the car based blinders and prejudices that we all have in North America. I appreciated that he noted the efforts of Vancouver and Portland in these efforts.

I just completed a journey to Greece and Western Turkey and it is blindingly how much more interesting an old, pre car built city is for walking than one that is car based.  And how increased traffic can really bind up these cities. Too bad they look to the West for insight son how to handle this.  Kind of like asking a heroin addict how to kick the habit.

Speck also does a great job of showing/ linking our car based designs to increased carbon footprints and how some thoughts in design can ameliorate/prevent  self induced issues.  That was again brought to me in the Turkish city of Marmaris which had many covered streets/bazaars that were very pedestrian oriented. This was in a city that has an average daily temp of 30 degs. Shade is really important.  Terminal 2 in Heathrow, UK  is another good example , which uses mostly north facing windows to prevent increased heat build up in the open plan building. Its is a good job.  If you fly Star  Allinace you can experience this.

I recommend this to anyone interested in living in a more interesting,  energetic and vibrant city.

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