“All the great cities and towns are congested” is an urbanist trope that needs to be retired. It comes, I believe, from arguing against traffic engineers when they talk about Level of Service rather than observing the best places.
I was in London the day their Congestion Zone started. I was staying in a hotel on High Holborn, a major through street that continues Oxford Street (or vice versa, depending on where you’re coming from). The Central Line on the London Underground was undergoing repairs and wasn’t operating.
The day before the congestion zone started, Oxford Street and High Holborn were jammed even more than usual with buses, taxis, trucks, and cars. You could walk any distance long or short in either direction from Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road and know that walking would be faster than taking a bus. They were traveling along stuck nose to tail in traffic. The problem was the speed the buses were going, not time spent waiting for a bus.
That day traffic flowed like water in an oversized pipe. It was so pleasant, and such a pleasant contrast to the day before. It was the way cities should be. You could walk without being buffeted by noise and diesel smell, and you didn’t have to wait at every crossing for traffic to pass by.
AN ALPHABETICAL LIST of all the streets illustrated in Street Design. You can also download a sortable Excel list by clicking here.
Air Street. London, UK
Alta Vista Terrace, Chicago, IL
Arcade Santo Stefano, Bologna, IT
avenue d’Iena, Paris, FR
avenue de l’Opéra, Paris, FR
avenue Foch, Paris, FR
avenue Montaigne, Paris, FR
Aviles Street, St. Augustine, FL
Avinguda Diagonal, Barcelona, ES
Mr. Godschalk reviewed Street Design in the ULI’s Urban Land Magazine:
A revolution in street design is unfolding across America…. Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns is the revolution’s handbook. Its promise is clear: invest in urban streets that slow vehicles down and create shared spaces where pedestrians feel safe and comfortable, and your neighborhoods shall prosper. This encyclopedia of beautiful and profitable streets belongs in the hands of every designer, developer, and planner seeking to create sustainable development projects.
…In the final analysis, this book makes unique and valuable contributions both to urban design and to sustainable development. Creating more great streets means more people will be attracted to urban living, where they will be able to walk and bike more, reducing sprawl and air pollution from commuting by automobile, and resulting in smaller urban footprints with fewer negative climate change impacts. This is a revolution that benefits everyone.
AN EXCERPT from Street Design, called “The Problems With Modern Roundabouts” by Better! Cities & Towns, caused comment around the web in places like a private roundabout listserv. Traffic engineer Peter Swift and urban designer Geoff Dyer challenged us to a debate, which turned into more of a loveliest. You can hear it at Placemakers.com
John Massengale was interviewed on “Everything Is Broken” on April 22:
The YouTube video above includes a slide show. Some of the slides are closely correlated with the interview, while others are only loosely connected. Click here for a higher resolution version of the video.
The video below only has an image of the cover and the audio track.
On May 27, Victor Dover will be on Baltimore Public Radio, WYPR.
A RECENT MAILING from the Congress for New Urbanism says,
Check out Victor Dover and other folks from Dover, Kohl & Partners in this new video about the Hometown Plan for the City of South Miami. The Hometown Plan was initiated over 16 years ago and continues to be actively implemented today. New streetscape improvements and infill buildings have created a walkable, urban downtown. Filmed by Nestor Arguello. Directed by Jason King, Dover, Kohl & Partners.
Street Design in the Providence Journal Again
We then crossed the College Street Bridge to enter downtown, and found ourselves where Weybosset and Westminster merge to form what Dr. Street said could be a sumptuous civic plaza. It is a sumptuous civic plaza, replied this doctor, and a civic dance plaza on WaterFire nights. He said it was still too wide. He noted that Nantucket’s Main Street has a horse fountain at one end and a Civil War monument at the other, around both of which cars must maneuver. He recommended an obelisk at Westminster and Weybosset to slow the cars entering downtown. What a great idea!
Dr. Street referred often to a new “paradigm shift” for making cities less car-centric. Vision Zero was conceived by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has called for zero traffic deaths, including pedestrians, in the city. These are not unpreventable “accidents” and no level is acceptable. By focusing on safety, politicians who otherwise care nothing for the niceties of good streets will feel obliged to promote the goals of the slow-streets movement.
David Brussat is the architecture critic for the Providence Journal, as well as an Editorial Board member there. He wrote about Benefit Street for Street Design, reviewed the book, and walked the streets of Providence with John Massengale (aka “Dr. Street”).
David Brussat, “The Secret to Making Great Streets,” Providence Journal
John Massengale, “Mr. Manners Goes To MOMA: The Etiquette of Deconstructivism,” Inland Architect (September/October 1988): 66-69