Walkable Streets II: The Documenting

This time last week, I was considering common issues associated with walkable streets and mentioned that 35-40kph (25mph) moves the most traffic. I didn’t even think about it as I wrote it. As something long-embedded in my brain, I just said it. Matter-of-factly.

Readers took me to task, wanting to know the source.

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Walkable Streets: Considering common issues

As municipalities throughout North America seek to reform their development patterns (or at least expand their options) from the single-use zoning and automobile oriented regulations of the past century to those that allow for walkable, compact, mixed use places, there is a long list of standards and regulations that must be addressed. Often we discuss these issues in isolation, particularly the reform of use-based zoning into more responsive form-based zoning, and the reform of street standards from automobile-focused approaches to those that also balance the needs of bikes and pedestrians. Not only are these two regulations inextricably linked, but a roster of appropriate walkable street standards is absolutely essential to a form-based land use regulation. Where conventional zoning districts come with their own menu of street types (the ubiquitous local, collector, and arterial — all named for their vehicular function), so does the zoning for walkable urbanism (the street, avenue, and boulevard — to name a few).

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The Strip Mall vs. the Multi-Way Boulevard: In consideration of subtle differences

Having worked in communities big and small across the continent, we’ve had ample opportunity to test ideas and find approaches that work best. Urban design details. Outreach tactics. Implementation tricks. Many of these lessons are transferable, which is why we’ve created “Back of the Envelope,” a weekly feature where we jot ‘em down for your consideration.

Like its larger cousin the mall, the strip mall has become a symbol for our dysfunctional car-focused suburban environments. Ask any born-again urbanite why, and they’ll tell you that the strip mall’s most damning offense is putting all that parking in front of the store, creating a horrible car-focused environment.  But… is it so simple?  Take that same urbanite to some of the celebrated boulevards of Paris, Barcelona, or even Chico, California and see those offenses forgiven.

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