If you grew up, as I did, in a pedestrian city, much of Jeff Speck’s “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” falls into the category of no-brainer. Of course, a walking culture is better than an automotive one, better for our bodies and our souls. And of course, street life has to develop organically, from the proper urban conditions — “a citywide commitment to creating an environment that people want to live in,” Speck notes, quoting Adam Baacke, assistant city manager for planning and development in Lowell, Mass. Of course, bikes and mass transit are a key part of the mix, as is a human sense of scale. “It is often surprising to measure some of America’s favorite and most successful public spaces — New York’s Rockefeller Center, San Antonio’s River Walk, San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square — and discover how small they actually are,” Speck tells us.
more from David L. Ulin at the LA Times here.