Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Retrofitting the Suburbs to Increase Walking, Marlon G. Boarnet, Kenneth Joh, Walter Siembab, William Fulton, and Mai Thi Nguyen, ACCESS: The Magazine of UCTC, Fall 2011

This article suggests that some California planning researchers have recently been channeling Robert Simon's "village center" concept, although they never use the word and they really don't push that far.  In brief, their article suggests developing sufficient residential infill around "walkable" business centers that are also well served by public transit.  Nothing quite as rich as Bob Simon's "gathering place" idea for village centers, but, based on their research in southern California, the core idea of a walkable center is similar--and workable as well as walkable.

Here is what they have to say about their work:

The tricky part is that the business concentration needed to encourage walking appears to be larger than most neighborhood residential populations can support. Given that, suburban regions should focus both on fostering pedestrian centers and on knitting those centers together with transportation networks, though such networks need not accommodate only cars.
accessible suburbs
We suggest both a land use approach and a mobility approach, and coordination between the two. A land use approach would focus on identifying and promoting walkable centers. . . Planners can develop pedestrian-oriented centers through densification and infill development, for example by offering density bonuses. Planners might reduce or remove minimum parking requirements or even limit parking.
A mobility approach would promote transit service, tailored to the context of the suburbs. Rather than the common approach of running underutilized central-city style buses, in a region like the South Bay transit might include high-frequency shuttle bus service between neighborhood centers. A more ambitious but possibly more appropriate approach would promote the use of small, fuel-efficient vehicles (such as neighborhood electric cars) and through carshare programs. . .
Overall, the first step would be to develop walkable nodes of neighborhood businesses that would then be connected through regional mobility networks. . . .
 If this sounds intriguing, read the rest of the article here.  

1 comment:

  1. It seems that the works of Boarnet are still groundbreaking. Ten years ago he, along with Randall Crane, wrote the fantastic book of "Travel by Design", which can be recommended to be read. At that time it was a leading book in land use/transportation interactions.


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