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Pedtopia? What's yours look like?

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
That’s a pedestrian’s, not a pedophile’s utopia.

Ok, so you are a planner. Not that there is anything wrong with that. That probably means you have designed the perfect city in your head a 100 times.

You rage against SimCity's inflexability for not allowing you to ban the auto within city limits.

You know that the future is in a medium density updated version of the English garden city.

Well, time to pony up. What is YOUR contribution? What neat idea have you come up with to make PEDTOPIA? Tell us about the perfectly walkable city you have designed in your brain.

Budgie?
jresta?
nightmare?
gitmo?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
My ultimate pedestrian city begins with good vehicular access and parking. Let's face reality, the car is here to stay. At the same time, garages and parking are not prominant. Quality architecture faces our streets and paths. Homes, townhomes and apartments can be constructed fronting onto parks, with only alleys to garages on the back of the buildings. Uses are mixed and in proximity to each other so that people can walk, ride a bike, or Segway if they choose, but they can also drive. Truck traffic is routed outside of neighborhoods whenever possible. Commercial districts, from downtowns to strips to malls, are designed equally for pedestrians as for cars. Roads are not designed with the highest priority of moving traffic through quickly.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
How about banning commercial deliveries in anything larger than a full sized auto chasis based van in the fussganer zone? I hate it when people deliver in an 18 wheeler or beer truck sized vehicle downtown. It makes the area dangerous.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
Mine would look like this:


Just kidding.

My pedestrian utopia would look somewhat like Michael Stumpf's. I would require sidewalks everywhere and bicycle/segway paths to all major destinations. I would devise some type of community bike parking requirements that would have locks built in, similar to those lockers where you drop in 25 cents and get the key and get the 25 cents back when you return the key and unlock your bike. I hate dragging a bike lock around.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Three words = “dense mixed use”

To truly be a pedestrian city, one must be in proximity to “ped” themselves where the need to go. In my dream city, the development would dense and the use would be mixed.

There could also be “creative parks” such as sitting areas on roof-tops…as such.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
I almost forgot, my city would be very dense and would have lots of mixed uses. Parks all over like in Savannah, GA and an eclectic mixes of businesses/restaurants/bars like Greenwich Village. I would require that all apartments/condos/and houses have porches or patios too.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
Time to put on the Sim-City geek hat

Mine has many of the New Urbanist features described above with a few additions.

First, freeways would not enter the Urbanized area itself. All inbound traffic (for those who refuse to ride the state-of-the-art lightrail/streetcar syatem)would be routed onto boulevards, for traffic speds up to 45-50mph, and then onto arterials on down to neighborhood streets. All streets would have sidewalks and all boulevards and other major streets would include bike lanes.

Another feature of my pedtopolis would be that it would be more of a collection of small towns rather than a single large city. One or two street neighborhood mixed-use commercial districts, of various densities throughout the city would provide all basic needs, doing away the need to drive for most services. A CBD would be developed simply to create the physical critical mass of professionals needed by the business community. This would, of course, be easily accessible from all parts of the city via streetcar.
 
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jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
i noticed i was summoned to respond so -

I wouldn't design a place that banned cars. I don't think it would work.

but great walking/bike towns that i've been to are Charleston, Savannah, Barcelona, Montpellier (Fr), Geneva, and Philly - Society Hill in particular. Cape May, Ocean Grove, and Spring Lake, NJ are also up there on my list.

Also, the Fairview section of Camden (formerly known as Yorkship Village) was built in the Garden City tradition. The only thing that sucks about it is the limited transit access.

I list these because of what's available on foot - access to life's necessities as well as ammenities. Also for the relative level of safety afforded to pedestrians. That's what I look for. If I had to think of ways to tweak a place to make it more friendly for peds and bikes, well, I'd prob. go with the basics of widening sidewalks, slowing cars down, maybe banning cars from certain blocks in particularly dense areas.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I'm more relaxed on the desity issue. Yes, there would be hubs where residential density might be higher, but I would not object to large areas of mostly single family homes, with some on large lots. Actually, I kind of like the idea of varying lot sizes in a subdivision, where they might be as small as a few thousand square feet or as large as an acre, with perhaps an overall ratio of 3-4 homes per acre (in these subdivisions). I would probably limit street frontage to no more than 125-150'. In addition to varying lot sizes, I would accommodate duplex and larger attached units scattered throughout.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
I would be happy to take back the rights-of-way in our older areas. Stop cars from using the sidewalks for parking...yada, yada.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
What about giving businesses a break on off street parking if they provide shower facilities for their employees to use after biking or walking to work?
 

Cyburbian-ess

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
Favorite walkable cities:

New Orleans. Interesting things around every corner. Specialty shops that sell nothing but toy soldiers or dusty old books. Smells of great cooking. Sounds of jazz bands or the guy on the corner blowing his sax. Somewhere that reaches all of your senses!

Seattle. Probably because by walking up and down those hilly streets, it's the first time I've ever LOST weight while on vacation (aka National APA Conference). :)

Combine them both, and that's my Pedtopia!
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
39
Moving sidewalks everywhere....

Actually, and this is a theoretical thing...when I was at U of FL, if you lived within a certain distance of the university, you could not get a parking pass, you had to ride the bus, walk, bike, etc. There was a limited amount of on-campus parking, and gosh darn it, I had to find another way to get there. So why can't cities do the same? I rode the bus and filled up my tank maybe once a month. What a deal!
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
El Guapo said:
You know that the future is in a medium density updated version of the English garden city.
Dude, you've obviously spent too much time studying for AICP... Step away from the green book and no one gets hurt....
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
El Guapo said:
What about giving businesses a break on off street parking if they provide shower facilities for their employees to use after biking or walking to work?
Good idea. Only the top dogs get parking here.
It's already a warm muggy day here and, after walking the 1.75 miles to work, I feel like I could take another shower. I hope I'm not ripe and gamey before luchtime.
 

jmf

Cyburbian
Messages
594
Points
17
The city where I grew up has 6 universities/colleges plus several campuses of a community college system. One university has introduced a combined student card/bus pass. The fee for the bus pass is included in their student fees and they can use the bus pass anytime anywhere. The cost of the pass is MUCH cheaper than buying a monthly pass. Other universities are looking into introducing this. It will be interesting to see if it makes a difference in traffic and parking around the universities.

That would be a major part of my pedtopia. Also, lots of green space and trails which not only provide recreation but also links areas of the community. The Grand Concourse in St John's, Newfoundland is an awesome example of this especially for a city where the car rules most of the time!
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
Points
24
Boston and Cambridge are very walkable. I believe in the last census, Boston had the highest percentage in the country of people who walk to work.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
I don't think density has much of anything to do with a place being pedestrian friendly. I prefer a relative level of density for the ammenities that come with it.

I spent two weeks in Co. Antrim/Derry in the north of Ireland, and while the younger locals seemed to drive everywhere, i didn't set foot in a car the whole time. We took the train up from Belfast and caught buses from town to town and if we needed to we hoofed it to the smaller villages. If i had a bike with me I don't think i'd have needed the bus at all.

Granted I was on vacation and time wasn't really an issue but the footpaths/trails were abundant and useful.

No big boxes or local business-ruining chain stores.

at a town meeting last year - http://www.collingswood.com - the mayor of my old town was asked what was going to happen with an old pharmacy that has been vacant since the owner decided to retire. The store occupied a fairly prominent corner in a secondary business district - he said:

"we're looking at trying to get a coffee shop or something similar in there"

someone in the audience perked up:

- - - "ohh, like a starbucks?"

hushed silence - the mayor shakes his head

"not while i'm mayor"

laughter breaks into applause
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I used to live in my pedtopia... Davis, CA. The system of sidewalks, bike trails and bike lanes were amazing. I could ride/walk from one side of town to another with ever having to cross and intersection (thanks to underpasses and off-street bike paths). The paths were almost always in good condition (to the point I could rollerblade on them without having to worry about faceplanting). I would love to find a place like that to live in again.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Planderella said:
No big boxes or local business-ruining chain stores.
Is there such a thing as a local business?

What if the "big box" is headquartered in the community?
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Michael Stumpf said:
Is there such a thing as a local business?

Absafrickenlutely.

One example I can think of is the Oxford Ms. Square. I bet every store up there is locally owned and operated. They even have a local “big box”, Nelson’s department store. It is the state’s oldest dept. store.

I lived in Oxford for 5 years and you can get anything you net from a locally owned store, that is all I shopped in. (or I a least did my best, there were of course exceptions).

It is not a small town thing either, I know from living in Atlanta Ga, Knoxville Tn, and Miami Fl. That all of these cities have local clothes, shoes, restaurants, banks, etc.. you just need to find them and support them.

When I live in a city, I prefer my consumer $’s to stay there and not be shipped off to Chicago, New York, or some other far away world headquarters.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I will throw out two controversial statements:

1) Most "local" business is a thing of the past.

2) Big Boxes are not all that bad.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Michael Stumpf said:
I will throw out two controversial statements:

1) Most "local" business is a thing of the past.

2) Big Boxes are not all that bad.
I unfortunately pretty much agree with #1 (for the most part, but there are exceptions if you seek them out, as I stated before), but could you elaborate on #2? I guess the term “bad” is a relative one.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
It is a simplified argument, but...

- An ugly design is one of the things people comment on the most with regard to big boxes. This can be overcome, partly by communities standing firm, and partly by the companies being more willing to change their formats. Similarly, communities might do more to site these uses in better locations. What if Wal-Mart were located in the downtown area instead of at the highway interchange on the edge of town?

- Shoppers like big boxes. They offer convenience, selection, competitive pricing, extended hours, and flexible policies (such as returns).

- Big boxes have a negative impact on some retailers in a community, and on nearly all competitors in neighbouring communities. They also have a positive impact on several sales categories in the same community. Big boxes can expand a local market.

- Big boxes provide jobs. They are criticised because they are low paying jobs, but is a clerk in the local hardware store really paid any more than a clerk at Target? Not likely, only Target is likely to hire more of them and offer some additional benefits. The retail jobs provided by big boxes are an important source of second incomes and are very well suited to those looking for part-time work, or to persons first entering the work force (such as high school students). The argument might also go on to say that department managers really do earn comparably to many of the often marginal local business owners.

- The one argument that cannot be effectively countered, though, is that local dollars flow from the community when the store's profits are sent off to the parent headquarters. Still, we are in a global marketplace for all goods. Why should retail be any different?
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
#1 - i don't agree with that at all. At least not around here. Sure you'll find strip centers anchored by large chains but all the stores in between are locally owned. Pizza and sub shops outnumber fast food joints by at least 3 to one (and i'm not talking about subway or domino's)

#2 - i agree with that. We have a Staples near the corner of Broad&Market. You can't get much more downtown than that.
They fit it into an existing building so there's not much to complain about - aside from their hideous sign that covers the second floor windows.

There's a K-Mart in the Village in New York that has it's own entrance to the subway. I think those retailers can be very creative when they want to be. It's just a matter of not caving in to them. The bigger issue for smaller cities and towns will probably be what to do with all that parking. If it's in the downtown I def. say bury it or stack it on top
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,482
Points
44
Mixed use, and mixed density.

I also think that light rail, and other alternative transportaion would be need. But most of all, bring nature into the city. Make the city it's self a part with new planting beds, trees, and a divison of traffic (green space buffers beween wide sidewalks, and streets) These would be full of trees that would create a complete canopy over the street, and old style pedestian scale lights with flower beds covering the floor of the green strip.

For where there would be streets, make the cross walk higher, almost like a whide speed bump, and a differnt materal and color than the rest of the street, and make the curb flare into the street in those areas to prevent people from parking too close to the courner. Come on, like the signs really work all that great.

Finally, it would provide a something for everyone, and be a 24 hour community, with the right lighting, and a historic feel and have smaller signs that would hang perpidicual to the building and the sidewalk, so we would not have to step back to see what they say.

Ok, I am done.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
As Planderella said, we are talking about Pedtopia where everything is ideal, but I must respond to Michael’s post….”CAN_NOT_RESIST….”(said in a slow painful voice)…

Michael Stumpf said:
It is a simplified argument, but...

- An ugly design is one of the things people comment on the most with regard to big boxes. This can be overcome, partly by communities standing firm, and partly by the companies being more willing to change their formats. Similarly, communities might do more to site these uses in better locations. What if Wal-Mart were located in the downtown area instead of at the highway interchange on the edge of town?
I agree.

- Shoppers like big boxes. They offer convenience, selection, competitive pricing, extended hours, and flexible policies (such as returns).
I agree.

-Big boxes have a negative impact on some retailers in a community, and on nearly all competitors in neighbouring communities. They also have a positive impact on several sales categories in the same community. Big boxes can expand a local market.
I read an article once with an interview from Sam Walton and he was insistent that small “local” business could compete with Wally World if they knew how to seek out the missing niche that a large company could not fill.

One of my good friends runs and operates a family tire store in a small Wal-mart dominated rural town and he claims the only thing that keeps them alive is the knowledge of product and remembering the customers. He claims people like when they drive in and are called by their first name and asked how their kids or grandkids are. As oppose to Wal-mart where the employees tend to “come and go” a little quicker.

-Big boxes provide jobs. They are criticised because they are low paying jobs, but is a clerk in the local hardware store really paid any more than a clerk at Target? Not likely, only Target is likely to hire more of them and offer some additional benefits. The retail jobs provided by big boxes are an important source of second incomes and are very well suited to those looking for part-time work, or to persons first entering the work force (such as high school students). The argument might also go on to say that department managers really do earn comparably to many of the often marginal local business owners.
I knew someone who worked at Wal-mart once and they kept working her 38 or 39 hour a week so they would not have to provide “full-time employee” benefits. She claimed this was policy and shortly quit. So the job is questionable how “good” it is, but I have no comparison to ‘mom n’ pops’ and a sample size of only one, so that this story is no more than a side note at best.

- The one argument that cannot be effectively countered, though, is that local dollars flow from the community when the store's profits are sent off to the parent headquarters. Still, we are in a global marketplace for all goods. Why should retail be any different?
Now as it would not be feasible to make ‘everything’ locally due to sheer supply and demand economics. However, many small towns are dying on the vine, mainly because the $$ is being sent away to Wal-mart’s, Target’s, K-Mart’s, Try-n-Save’s HQ, etc., and the lucrative jobs follow. While not all retail goods can be ‘made’ locally, some goods can be and the goods (regardless of origin) can be at least sold by local retail outlets. If mom n’ pops cant compete with the return policies and such, they can hopefully find their niches.

Thats all.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
jtfortin said:
I would require that all apartments/condos/and houses have porches or patios too.
hmmm. . .do any regs like this really exist? One of the problems with modern apartments is the boxy design. Could it be backed up with "light and air" goal of zoning? It would partialy make up for the lack of private outdoor space when many families share 1 yard.
 
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