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Walkable City Paperback – 2 Dec 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; Reprint edition (2 Dec. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865477728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865477728
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.2 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 290,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A delightful, insightful, irreverent work. --The Christian Science Monitor. If Jane Jacobs invented a new urbanism, Walkable City is its perfect complement, a commonsense twenty-first-century user's manual. --Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 and author of True Believers. A recipe for vibrant street life. --Los Angeles Times. Refreshing, lively and engaging . . . Walkable City isn't a harangue, it's a fun, readable and persuasive call to arms. --Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) Everyone interested in improving the quality of city life should read this book and heed its lessons. --John Strawn, The Sunday Oregonian. Among the perennial flood of books on urban design in all its forms, this one stands out. --John King, San Francisco Chronicle. Walkable City is an energetic, feisty book, one that never contents itself with polite generalities. Sometimes breezy and anecdotal yet always logical and amply researched, this is one of the best books to appear this year. Speck deserves the widest possible readership. --Philip Langdon, Better! Cities & Towns. Walkable City . . . will change the way you see cities." --Kaid Benfield, The Atlantic Cities Jeff Speck, AICP, is one of the few practitioners and writers in the field who can make a 312-page book on a basic planning concept seem too short . . . For getting planning ideas into the thinking and the daily life of U.S. cities, this is the book.--Planning magazine Jeff Speck's brilliant and entertaining book reminds us that, in America, the exception could easily become the rule. Mayors, planners, and citizens need look no further for a powerful and achievable vision of how to make our ordinary cities great again. Joseph P. Riley, mayor of Charleston, S.C. --Various

About the Author

Jeff Speck, coauthor of the landmark bestseller Suburban Nation, is a city planner who advocates for smart growth and sustainable design. As the former director of design at the National Endowment for the. Arts, he oversaw the Mayors' Institute on City Design, where he worked with dozens of American mayors on their most pressing city planning challenges. He leads a design practice based in Washington, D.C.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
More for an American audience, than for European, as many of the issues were US related, but still interesting
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A thoroughly well written book.
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By Clare O'Beara TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Oct. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
We're told by the author, who is heavily anti-car, that American cities are designed around cars and have requirements for large amounts of parking per built unit. He recommends making cities more pedestrian friendly, having a mix of uses in a neighbourhood and increasing housing density, especially as older empty nesters move back in from suburbs. Lots of good ideas here. He adds that young people are not getting driving licences, preferring to live and work in walking areas. Great, for those who have the choice.

I can understand why housing and parking are both expensive in geographically cramped locations. According to Walkable City, on page 117, "Parking spaces under Seattle's Pacific Place shopping center, built by the city, cost sixty thousand dollars each. .... The twelve hundred space Pacific Place garage cost $73 million." Such details abound, more than most of us would ever need. Some very interesting facts about cars in the US though, such as the car companies buying up trolley car firms in the past and scrapping them so there would be no public alternative to cars.

This book is heavily anti-cars in cities, but in rural areas (even in Ireland), cars are a necessity if you are ever to get anywhere or carry anything, especially after dark when cycling is suicidal. The author overlooks or doesn't know an awful lot of detail that seems obvious and important to me. In discussing promoting cycling, the author never mentions the biggest drawback about bikes, which is theft. He tells us that the Netherlands has a wonderfully high rate of cycling. Yes, but he never mentions that this land is all flat. I did not see one single mention of parking, walking or public transport provision for disabled persons.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this after reading Suburban Nation (a great book). The book is essential reading for anyone practicing within, studying or simply interested in the quality of the built environment. If you want an attractive, vibrant and competitive town or city make it walkable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.6 out of 5 stars 166 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and enlightening! 17 May 2014
By B. Case - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book to help support an independent study project I needed to complete for a college-level class designed around Edward Glaeser's "Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier." I knew the book would help me develop a strong and effective PowerPoint lecture for the class on my topic of walkable cities, but I had no idea how delightful it would be to read this book straight through from beginning to end as a form of pleasure. Nor did I realize how much I would learn overall about the basics of urban design. Although this book is focused on how to make cities more walkable, it really served the purpose of being an engaging introduction to the whole field of urban and city planning.

After reading Speck's book, I now see my own lovely city and the many thousands that I've visited here and abroad over my life in a completely new light. This book gives me a context within which to understand why certain cities attract me and others do not. It is as if I now have a language to clearly understand cities for the first time. Honestly, you know how good it feels when you get eyeglasses for the first time and see what the world really looks like? Well, that's what this book did for me. I now see cities in a whole new light.

I only wish at this book could be read by my mayor, all my city councilmen, all the citizens on our planning commission, and all the citizens in my community that have the power to vote on our city's major land use initiatives.

This book is getting almost consistent five-star ratings. I can do little more than join in and whole-heartedly agree.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every concerned citizen, community activist, and civil servant should read this 1 Jun. 2015
By R. M. Fleming - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really interesting discussion of the future of cities. Hopefully, ever city manager, mayor, council member and concerned citizen has picked up a copy for themselves and one for their friends. I heard Jeff speak in Miami and bought the book as a result of his presentation and thoroughly enjoyed it. He doesn't provide blueprints for cities to make themselves walkable as much as he offers steps you can take to advance toward the goal of becoming Portland. One of my favorite ideas: start with orange cones rather than costly construction to see if you draw people into areas before you unleash the city budget on transformation. Try little things repeatedly to see if you can develop something that sticks. Really easy read, and it was more enjoyable than I was expecting for a book on such a reasonably dry topic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of clear thinking, very little religion 25 Mar. 2013
By Raoul Picante - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I live in Eugene, Oregon where planning is done by bumper stickers and "buzz word of the month."

Our "Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan" has a single goal: "By the year 2031 Eugene will double the percentage of trips made on foot and by bicycle from 2011 levels."

This pathetic statement isn't well-formed; it's a narrow "objective," not a "goal"; and what follows in the PBMP is, not surprisingly, focused on infrastructure to serve mostly a tiny "vehicular bicyclist" subpopulation.

Meanwhile, the City planners have let years go by doing little to help update local planning policies and code to prevent the degradation and destabilization of the older, close-in, grid-patterned neighborhoods. This neglect goes on despite an active, smart and progressive community of neighborhood advocates who love their compact (by small city standards), "traditional" urban neighborhoods.

The local planners still see "being against sprawl" as their core principle and their key task as holding in place an arbitrary "Urban Growth Boundary" line on a map. (A line that when it was originally created was a pretty seat-of-the-pants effort, not really based on much true planning).

Speck, like many smart planners who've been paying attention for the past couple decades, has moved beyond attacking "sprawl," and focuses on "being _for_ walkability" and promoting methods that really work to accomplish meaningful goals. (I'm a supporter of _evidence-based_ growth management, just not "plan-by-the-numbers".)

His work is packed with useful observations and citations. He isn't "anti-car," at all. He doesn't see all parking as "evil." And so on. And, he understands prioritization. Other 5-star reviews are accurate in their praise of the book's substance, as well as his writing style.

If I had one thing I think would have made a really good book even better, it would be that his first Chapter be an expanded version of the section titled "It's the Neighborhoods, Stupid," in which Speck writes:

"The transit discussion has of course included density since it began, but, until recently, it has been largely silent on neighborhood structure. This has been a huge mistake."

The concept of "walkability" in this book is not only directly about walking, it's also about the kinds of neighborhoods that are great to live in. And thus, I hope Speck's observations and advice can help some of our local planners stop making that same mistake over and over again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walk for Life 14 Mar. 2013
By Babara Sliwinski - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thank you Book TV for having featured Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City. The book brought back memories of growing up in a walkable city in mid-state New York in the 50's, 60's when a lot of us used our foot mobiles to get to school, places of worship and recreational facilities. Of course not many of us owned cars at the time so we had no choice but to walk, ride our bikes or use public transformation. Then the exodus to the suburbs began necessitating owning a car to get to some mega mall via a really awful 'arterial' roadways (effectively a speedway) which also blighted our neighborhoods. Getting cross town to shop at the new mall (good bye downtown stores) was fast but also dangerous. Of course socio-economic changes play a big part in any city's decline but the fact is some roadways contributed to the demise of a safe and livable neighborhood. Mr. Speck's book delves into these transformations and the need for city and state planners to effectively create roadways that serve neighborhoods effectively so they could be safe and livable. A walkable city can also do so much for our health and our dependence on oil lessened - it's a win win situation. We become communities and neighbors again when a city is deemed walkable and the roads safe. I think a lot of us are getting that message and Jeff Speck's is loud and clear about the rising new urbanism.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for making our cities more livable and interesting. 1 Oct. 2014
By Reg Nordman - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author, a city planner /designer has written an urban yet very readable guide to helping cities get away from their car addictions. Many of our local public forums return to keeping our city( New Westminster) a walkable city. Specks book is a great first step in seeing what can be and is being done in many places. He does an excellent job of stipping us of the car based blinders and prejudices that we all have in North America. I appreciated that he noted the efforts of Vancouver and Portland in these efforts.

I just completed a journey to Greece and Western Turkey and it is blindingly how much more interesting an old, pre car built city is for walking than one that is car based. And how increased traffic can really bind up these cities. Too bad they look to the West for insight son how to handle this. Kind of like asking a heroin addict how to kick the habit.

Speck also does a great job of showing/ linking our car based designs to increased carbon footprints and how some thoughts in design can ameliorate/prevent self induced issues. That was again brought to me in the Turkish city of Marmaris which had many covered streets/bazaars that were very pedestrian oriented. This was in a city that has an average daily temp of 30 degs. Shade is really important. Terminal 2 in Heathrow, UK is another good example , which uses mostly north facing windows to prevent increased heat build up in the open plan building. Its is a good job. If you fly Star Allianace you can experience this.

I recommend this to anyone interested in living in a more interesting, energetic and vibrant city.
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