Walkable City – live chat

Pedestrian Refuge Median
Pedestrian Refuge Median

I participated in the Walkable City live chat sponsored by Sacramento Press today, which featured Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, William Burg, and host Jared Goyette, which I advertised yesterday. I enjoyed hearing from both Speck and Burg. Burg is sort of the historian laureate of Sacramento, and his local perspective really added a lot.

You can review the recorded live chat by following the link from the live chat link above, and I highly recommend that you do. My take-aways from the conversation are:

  1. Jeff Speck reiterated his “General Theory of Walkability” which defines a favored walk as including the elements of useful, safe, comfortable and interesting.
  2. Speck said that in order to be walkable, a place must have “good bones”, short blocks in a grid pattern, with squares. Nearly always, these are pre-war neighborhoods. Burg pointed out that Sacramento downtown and midtown does have this, though our blocks are longer than many highly walkable cities, but our grid has been broken severely by the freeways and to some degree by the downtown mall and the convention center.
  3. Speck said that many cities that have a great reputation for walkability started with just one great street, or even one great block, such as LoDo (lower downtown) in Denver. The one great place increased the draw for young creatives, which led to more widespread changes. Continue reading “Walkable City – live chat”

Walkable City

Sacramento Press is sponsoring a live chat with Jeff Speck, the author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step At A Time. The live chat is tomorrow, January 3, at 12:30PM. The offline chat is already going on, if you want to check it out. I am currently reading the book, in the Kindle version, but am only part way through.

Many of the online comments so far have focused on creating a livable city, and it is wonderful to see so many positive ideas and accurate identification of challenges. Intelligent conversation like this is rare in the Sacramento news blogs. I’ll make some comments specifically on the walkability safety aspects. I’ve written about this before, but it is worth writing about again and again, because the problems still exist.

Traffic sewers: Multiple lane and one way streets are traffic sewers. This epithet is used to describe streets designed to flush traffic in and out of employment centers (and to homes in the suburbs) twice a day. They serve no other reasonable purpose, and they make a place very much less walkable. Three (or more) lane roadways are incompatible with walkability. They encourage high speed traffic, and provide too long a crossing distance to pedestrians to be comfortable with. They don’t meet the “8-80” criteria, of being safe and comfortable for people of all ages.Solutions:

  1. Therefore, I think that all three-lane roadways in Sacramento must be narrowed to two lanes. If a true refuge median is provided between two directions of travel, at least three feet wide, so that a person can cross each direction of traffic separately, then roadways with a total of four lanes are acceptable. If not, then only a total of two lanes. Six lane or more roadways, common in the northern and southern suburbs of the City of Sacramento, are not acceptable.
  2. One way streets also encourage high speed travel. I think that all of our one way streets should be converted to two way streets. This can be done over time as streets are repaved, it is not as high a priority as the narrowing of streets, above.

Continue reading “Walkable City”