The informal Walkable City book club had a good discussion on Wednesday evening. There were only four of us, but we filled up the time with thoughts and questions about parking in the city.
To the question of what is the next action that could be taken, answers were:
create red curb offsets at every intersection, reducing parking by one space or so, to increase visibility between walkers, bicyclists and drivers
change parking rates so that garages are utilized more, getting cars off street parking
adjust the hours and areas of metered parking so as to cover evenings and ensure parking turnover even after the workday
The next book club meeting will be Wednesday, June 14, 6:00PM, at Lefty’s Taproom, 5610 Elvas Ave, Sacramento, CA 95819. The patio area has some shade umbrellas and misters to cool us off. And cold beer, of course.
Discussion will be on Step 4: Let Transit Work (page 139 in the second edition). We hope you will join us!
A local transportation advocate Tom has started a discussion group/book club for the book by Jeff Speck, Walkable City: how downtown can save America, one step at a time. The third meeting of the group will be this Wednesday, May 17, 6:00PM at Lefty’s Taproom, 5610 Elvas Ave, Sacramento, CA 95819. The meetings will likely be on the second Wednesday of the month, same time and location, but his meeting will be the third Wednesday. You may just show up, and you may also send me your email address (to firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will get you added to the announcement list. Lefty’s has beer, wine, and food, but you are not obligated to buy anything. We meet outside.
The group has been going through the book part by part, and this meeting will focus on Part 3: Get the Parking Right. If you can read ahead of time, great, but you can also just show up. The group is a variable number of people and a variety of backgrounds and interests, so you will fit in.
This second edition, ten years after the first, has additional information since that time. Sometimes Jeff amplifies what he said before, or brings things up to date with what has happened in the last ten years. He makes up for his prior lack of emphasis on equity. And if a few cases, he simply say – I was wrong! If you have a choice, get the second edition, which contains all of the first, plus new info. But if you have the old, don’t worry, because we won’t get to the new for a while.
If you don’t have a copy of the book, Sacramento Public Library has three copies. The original edition, 2012, is on the shelf at Central and Carmichael branches. The second edition, 2022, is checked out as of today (probably a book club member!). For the discussion of the parts, which are little changed from the first edition, either will serve you. You can order a copy from your local bookstore ($20). My local bookstore, Capital Books, does not have it in stock but can get it in two days. Amazon has a Kindle edition, if you prefer digital over a physical book ($12.99). But you don’t have to have your own copy, nor even have read the part to be discussed. Your presence is welcome in any case.
Walkable City is a seminal work in transportation urbanism. This book, and his Walkable City Rules, are must-reads for anyone who cares about their city, and livability, safety, and fiscal responsibility. Even if you can’t make the book club meetings, I highly recommend you read it!
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:
Jeff Speck reiterated his “General Theory of Walkability” which defines a favored walk as including the elements of useful, safe, comfortable and interesting.
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.
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.Read More »
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:
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.
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.