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Monday, October 05 2015 @ 02:30 PM UTC

Author Jeff Speck on Walkability and the One Mistake That Can Wreck a City

Biking Elsewhereby Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog

AS: What is the biggest mistake cities make?

JS: I’ve repeated it so much I hate to tell you the same thing, but it’s the honest truth. The biggest mistake cities make is to allow themselves to effectively be designed by their director of public works. [Or the director of transportation.] The director of public works, he or she is making decisions every single day about the width of streets, the presence of parking, the question of bike lanes. And he’s doing it in response to the complaints he’s hearing. But if you satisfy those complaints you wreck the city.

A typical public works director doesn’t think about “What kind of city do we want to be?” They think about what people complain about, and it’s almost always traffic and parking.

The one thing we’ve learned without any doubt, is the more room you give the car the more room they will take and that will wreck cities. Optimizing any of these practical considerations — sewers, parking, vehicle capacity — almost always makes a city less walkable.

AS: What do the effective cities do instead?

JS: ...
Cities need specialists that help define what make them a great city. Is it going to make you a great city having an 18 minute commute versus a 20 minute commute? Or is it going to make you a great city to have a smaller carbon footprint and more transportation choices?

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[B' Spokes: I don't know about you but I keep thinking about Baltimore and the &quot;reason&quot; why they removed some of our bike lanes in the &quot;biggest mistake&quot; section. We need to start thinking differently!]

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