Wednesday, June 12, 2013

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

By Jeff Speck
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. 312 pages.  Nonfiction

In Walkable City Speck lays out what it will take to make our cities walkable.  At the outset the author states that for people to really take to the streets with their feet their walks must be useful, safe, comfortable, and interesting. He explains what he means by each of these qualities and demonstrates what how each these qualities affects the walkability of an urban environment. Then he lays out 10 steps to achieving walkability. The steps involve automobiles, parking, mixed use neighborhoods, public transportation, bicycles, sidewalks, and roads.

Speck illustrates his arguments with statistics, studies, and anecdotes. While some of the arguments seem a bit strained, overall the author’s proposals are compelling. There are quite a few counter-intuitive lessons taught in this book including more and bigger roads causes congestion, free parking is really expensive, and putting bicycles into the traffic makes streets safer. Interesting and informative.

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