SobriHeath, March 12, 2013 (view all comments by SobriHeath)
Like all great books, this left me wanting more and with a host of questions. Is the cognitive impact of narrower lanes the same on all drivers everywhere? Does culture matter in the development of walkable cities, or can structural and spatial changes drive transformations all on their own? Just how and when did so many American cities get it so wrong? But all those are questions for another book - this one accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. Absolutely recommended.
F Lyman, January 4, 2013 (view all comments by F Lyman)
This book should be required reading for the planners inhabiting bureaucracies in typical American cities and suburbs, where the same ol', same ol', car-centric developments keep getting proposed, and, unfortunately, rammed through city councils, even though what people really want is something very different. People do want walkable places, connected places, and not just in big cities but in suburbs, too. Unfortunately the places we get are created by people who don't read books like this one--but citizens who know better should put them in their hands.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"City planner and architectural designer Speck (co-author of Suburban Nation) offers an informative and engaging look at what's gone awry in American zoning codes and road planning, and what can be done to re-engage the public with downtowns large and small. Contrary to accepted wisdom, the author says that a city center's vitality is not dependent on climate, the width of sidewalks, efficient traffic movement, showboat architecture, or cheap parking. Instead, Speck argues — and research backs him up — that cities need narrower roads, less expedition of traffic via turn lanes or one-way streets — and more mixed-use buildings, protected pedestrian areas, and trees. With covered walkways, people will hike around in any weather. Speck also recommends taking a close look at the effects of public transit and biking, and includes examples of places where one-size-fits-all transportation schemes have failed (see: Dallas). Although it's broadly accessible, Speck's comprehensive effort should appeal to architectural students, civil engineers, and local public servants. Readers will find themselves re-evaluating their home landscape and judging their own urban area through Speck's lens. What they see may shock them. Illus. Agent: Neeti Madan, Sterling Lord. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Joseph P. Riley, mayor of Charleston, S.C.,
"Jeff Speck's brilliant and entertaining book reminds us that, in America, the exception could easily become the rule. Mayors, planners, and citizens need look no further for a powerful and achievable vision of how to make our ordinary cities great again."
by Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 and author of True Believers,
"City planning and urban development are phrases almost guaranteed to bore and confuse regular people. Which is weird, given that cities are the least boring places on earth. Fortunately, Jeff Speck is a deeply knowledgeable, charming, and jargon-free visionary, a profoundly pragmatic person brimming with common sense everybody can use to improve their own lives as well as their towns and cities. If Jane Jacobs invented a new urbanism, Walkable City is its perfect complement, a commonsense twenty-first-century users manual."
by David Owen, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Green Metropolis,
"Cities are the future of the human race, and Jeff Speck knows how to make them work. In Walkable City, he persuasively explains how to create rational urban spaces and improve quality of life by containing the number one vector of global environmental catastrophe: the automobile."
by Harriet Tregoning, founder of the National Smart Growth Network,
"Companionable and disarmingly candid, Jeff Speck perches on your shoulder and gets you to see your community with fresh eyes. He gradually builds a compelling case for walkability as the essential distillation of a vast trove of knowledge about urbanism and placemaking. The case he makes has you both nodding at the intuitive and seemingly obvious wisdom presented, and shaking your head at why those basic principles of fixing our cities have eluded us for so long."
by Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic and author of Why Architecture Matters,
"Jeff Speck understands a key fact about great cities, which is that their streets matter more than their buildings. And he understands a key fact about great streets, which is that the people who walk along them matter more than the cars that drive through them. Walkable City is an eloquent ode to the livable city and to the values behind it."
by Ron Bogle, president and CEO of the American Architectural Foundation,
"With Walkable City, Jeff Speck demonstrates why he is among the most relevant and engaging writers on urban design today."
"When I speak around the country, people ask me what is the first thing they should do to start their community on the path of smart growth. I will now say: Read Jeff Specks Walkable City." Parris Glendening, governor of Maryland (1995-2003) and president of Smart Growth Americas Leadership Institute
"Truly a book that is so very needed, Walkable City moves theory into action. We now know we need to build walkable urban places for all sorts of economic, social, and environmental reasons. Jeff Speck shows how to do it in the same clear style we came to love in the classic Suburban Nation." Christopher B. Leinberger, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of The Option of Urbanism
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.
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