Friday, February 13, 2009

Highways To Boulevards

America's twentieth century highway building era included elevated freeways which cut huge swaths across our cities, decimating neighborhoods and reducing quality of life for city residents. This massive concrete infrastructure had devastating effects on urban economies. It blighted adjacent property and pushed access to basic amenities further out. With the Federal and State Departments of Transportation confronting shrinking budgets and cities looking for ways to increase their revenues, it is an ideal time to offer less expensive, urban alternatives to the reconstruction of urban expressways. New York City, Portland, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Seoul, South Korea have confronted this problem by replacing elevated highways with boulevards, saving billions of dollars and increasing real estate values on adjacent land.

Source: Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Traffic: How We Drive

Balancing the flow of traffic, the desire for people to move great distances quickly and the need maintain an urban fabric that serves all people, pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists, and the like, is an important part of planning. Author Tom Vanderbilt keeps a blog of interesting tidbits relating to the psychology of driving and how it affects the human experience in cities.

Most posts relate to his book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), though many relate to the urban planning. It's worth a look if the mesh between traffic flow and physical environment interests you.