Thursday, January 8, 2009

It all starts with walkable streets

Eric at the must-read Transbay Blog has an excellent post about the connection between the pedestrian environment and the overall health of our cities. Specifically he's rallying support for the Congress for the New Urbanism's recent proposal to include dense, livable streetscape improvements in the upcoming Federal stimulus bill:

The CNU proposal leverages the power inherent in a street grid to disperse traffic throughout an open, integrated network of routes. This is preferable to funneling a high volume of cars onto a few wide arteries, which encourages many drivers to use the exact same route. As a result, these wide arteries attract congestion like a magnet, and when the roadway reaches capacity, there is the perception that it must be widened to further increase capacity, leading to a vicious cycle of induced demand. ... This pattern has led to the decline of many once-prosperous urban districts and corridors, including here in the Bay Area. It confirms our observation that the freeway/artery model is inferior to the grid model, in which traffic is dispersed throughout a network of streets.

Investing in the rennaisance of our neglected urban cores - and in the creation of new urban areas where previously cars were king - will yield more bang for our buck than any freeway widening project, and should be a part of any taxpayer-funded stimulus package.

Please let your elected representative know how you feel about this.

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