Friday, September 7, 2018

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

I came across Bustle's list of books that will inspire you to live a more sustainable life back in July I think.  Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time sounded interesting.  And the library even had a copy!  So I snagged it and finally got around to reading it now.

Walkable City explains the many advantages of making your city walkable, before going into a comprehensive list of ten steps to actually making your city more walkable.  Speck uses examples from the world's most walkable cities to illustrate his points.  Walkable City is aimed mainly at small and mid-sized American cities (emphasis on American).  After decades of suburban sprawl dominating city development, Speck believes that now is the time when redeveloping cities urban cores is going to be increasingly important. Millennials are increasingly attracted to urban life (they are far less likely to own cars than people of older generations).  And Boomers are moving back into urban centres because their big suburban houses are empty and they increasingly don't want to (or are becoming physically unable to) maintain their big suburban yards.  Plus they want to be more social, and where is better than a walkable urban core?

So once that's all established, Speck looks at the various things you need to consider and implement to make your city more walkable.  Many of the steps are designed to slow traffic down, while others are concerned with making walking more interesting and safer.  Speck cautions that you need all of the steps working together to make your city more walkable.  He also cautions that not every area of your city will be walkable (for example, streets in the auto district won't be). 

While a little dense at times (largely because people who aren't architects or city planners may not necessarily care about some of the points), Speck's prose is generally pretty entertaining to read.  I especially liked some of his snarky comments in the notes.  All in all, I think this was a great book to read.  It sure gave me a lot to think about!!!

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