Category Archives: Car Free Living

Learn Something

Read up on light pollution and how it will kill us all here.

Then do something about it.

Let’s join the civilized world

I think one of the biggest embarrassments facing our nation today is the state of our national passenger rail system. And I’m not just talking about the level of customer service provided by Amtrak, which is variable, as anyone who rides frequently on different routes across the country knows. I’m talking about those routes themselves. I’m talking about major cities throughout the nation that have no passenger rail service whatsoever. This is ridiculous. Las Vegas and Phoenix stand out as big examples, but how about these (after the map):

Amtrak routes

from Amtrak.com

Trace a route from Memphis to Little Rock.

Or from Oklahoma City to Kansas City.

Albuquerque to Salt Lake City? It would be quicker to walk than to try to connect those dots… [Unless you truly consider buses a respectable part of a national rail system(?)]

What reason can we truly convince ourselves of to explain why these relatively close cities lack direct passenger rail links?
Please sign this petition to the White House to create a real intercity passenger rail system. Let’s re-join the First World.

Community Based Economic Development

A bright light this quiet morning.

PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

This week my family enthusiastically celebrates both Canada Day and Independence Day, wishing Canada a happy 145th birthday, and the US a happy 236th. We honor the effective portions of the collective community vision that made these two nations great! The oldest continuously occupied settlements in each country are St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, at 429 years, and Acoma and Taos Pueblos, both in New Mexico, at 1,012 years.

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The new hotel

It’s as if I’ve subcontracted out my thoughts and ideas to highly talented writers who churn out one great post after another! These thoughts on hotels are inspiring, to say the least.

PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

Series Overview
While walkable mixed use town centers may not be the *easy* choice for the asphalt guy, the engineer, or even the developer who has to attract tenants to an environment they may not be as used to… they are certainly becoming best practices for sustainable community development. More importantly, they are quickly becoming a market favorite and a valuable amenity to their adjacent (and integrated) residential neighborhoods. Too often, however, municipalities and developers choose only to commit to this model halfway, viewing it as a niche market with limited potential where quaint mom and pops struggle away (you know, that one-off new urbanist development at the edge of town), while the “real stuff” happens in large conventional single-use centers down the street.

This lack of commitment allows many of the essential ingredients of a successful walkable town center to get sucked into car-focused single-use centers (the easy place…

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A new kind of strip mall

An interesting observation here:

PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

Having worked in communities big and small across the continent, we’ve had ample opportunity to test ideas and find approaches that work best. Urban design details. Outreach tactics. Implementation tricks. Many of these lessons are transferable, which is why we’ve created “Back of the Envelope,” a weekly feature where we jot ’em down for your consideration.

Like its larger cousin the mall, the strip mall has become a symbol for our dysfunctional car-focused suburban environments. Ask any born-again urbanite why, and they’ll tell you that the strip mall’s most damning offense is putting all that parking in front of the store, creating a horrible car-focused environment.  But… is it so simple?  Take that same urbanite to some of the celebrated boulevards of Paris, Barcelona, or even Chico, California and see those offenses forgiven.

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Density rocks

Refreshing good sense!

PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

Having worked in communities big and small across the continent, we’ve had ample opportunity to test ideas and find approaches that work best. Urban design details. Outreach tactics. Implementation tricks. Many of these lessons are transferable, which is why we’ve created “Back of the Envelope,” a weekly feature where we jot ’em down for your consideration.

A number of recent conversations with Stefanos Polyzoides, Howard Blackson, and Matt Lambert regarding density and residential types has me thinking about building typology as one solution to visualizing and embracing density.

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Jane Jacob’s revenge on Robert Moses

Love parts of this, despite the sadness that would be if grand architecture were everywhere replaced with push carts and vendor trucks.