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Making Cities Livable Again

Face it: As much as you may profess to love the city, the modern metropolis leaves much to be desired. They're frequently overcrowded, lacking in amenities, bleak, and not pedestrian-friendly. The American city today is a far cry from what it promised to be, and it's constantly becoming less and less habitable with urbanization.

Charles Siegel, author of Unplanning: Livable Cities and Political Choices, points out the flaws of modern city planning and proposes new models on how we can return (if there ever was) to the golden age of American urban living. One of my favorite plans attempts to regulate automobile traffic within city limits:
To illustrate the effect of a different limit on automobile use, consider a city with a speed limit of 12 mph to 15 mph for private vehicles, about the same speed a bicycle. This limit would let people use cars for local trips—for example, for hauling groceries home—but people would use higher speed rail transit for longer trips. Bicycles and small electric vehicles similar to golf carts could travel along with the automobiles in the main traffic lanes. Shopping streets would be quieter and safer for pedestrians than they are in today's cities. Residential streets could make traffic even slower, as the woonerfs in the Netherlands do, so they would be safe places for children to play.
What's interesting here is that it doesn't outright legislate change in the urban landscape, but provides incentives for people to commit to certain improvements. Sometimes people just need a push in the right direction, and maybe this is what the modern city needs.

Check out Planetizen for the full post.

Photo via Planetizen

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