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New Book — ‘Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality’ by Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

August 31, 2018 Bicycling, Books, Featured, Transportation Comments Off on New Book — ‘Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality’ by Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

Here in the U.S., St. Louis in particular, bike lanes are a cheap way to use up extra road width. A little paint here and there, with unresolved intersections that often place cyclists in the wrong place — especially for a left turn. In the Netherlands bike infrastructure is on a different level entirely.

In car-clogged urban areas across the world, the humble bicycle is enjoying a second life as a legitimate form of transportation. City officials are rediscovering it as a multi-pronged (or -spoked) solution to acute, 21st-century problems, including affordability, obesity, congestion, climate change, inequity, and social isolation. As the world’s foremost cycling nation, the Netherlands is the only country where the number of bikes exceeds the number of people, primarily because the Dutch have built a cycling culture accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ability, or economic means.

Chris and Melissa Bruntlett share the incredible success of the Netherlands through engaging interviews with local experts and stories of their own delightful experiences riding in five Dutch cities. Building the Cycling City examines the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch while also presenting stories of North American cities already implementing lessons from across the Atlantic. Discover how Dutch cities inspired Atlanta to look at its transit-bike connection in a new way and showed Seattle how to teach its residents to realize the freedom of biking, along with other encouraging examples.

Tellingly, the Dutch have two words for people who ride bikes: wielrenner (“wheel runner”) and fietser (“cyclist”), the latter making up the vast majority of people pedaling on their streets, and representing a far more accessible, casual, and inclusive style of urban cycling—walking with wheels. Outside of their borders, a significant cultural shift is needed to seamlessly integrate the bicycle into everyday life and create a whole world of fietsers. The Dutch blueprint focuses on how people in a particular place want to move.

The relatable success stories will leave readers inspired and ready to adopt and implement approaches to make their own cities better places to live, work, play, and—of course—cycle. (Island Press)

Here’s the contents:

  • Introduction: A Nation of Fietsers
  • Chapter 1: Streets Aren’t Set in Stone
  • Chapter 2: Not Sport. Transport.
  • Chapter 3: Fortune Favors the Brave
  • Chapter 4: One Size Won’t Fit All
  • Chapter 5: Demand More
  • Chapter 6: Think Outside the Van
  • Chapter 7: Build at a Human Scale
  • Chapter 8: Use Bikes to Feed Transit
  • Chapter 9: Put Your City on the Map
  • Chapter 10: Learn to Ride Like the Dutch
  • Conclusion: A World of Fietsers

You can see a preview here. The authors live in Vancouver and write about walking, cycling here.

If cycling as a mode of transportation interests you and you’re not impressed with our half-ass bike lanes, Building the Cycling City should be on your reading list.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book: This Used To Be St. Louis, by NiNi Harris

August 24, 2018 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: This Used To Be St. Louis, by NiNi Harris

I’ve known historian/author NiNi Harris for many years, so I’m always pleased when I see she had a new book out.

St. Louis’s history is layered. Each layer, whether the French pioneers establishing St. Louis as a river trading post, or Swiss immigrants starting dairy farms and dairies, or immigrants from Europe putting on the uniforms of the American doughboy, has left an imprint on the city. This Used to Be St. Louis is a fun trip through those layers of history following the story of: the glamorous, urban lofts that had been the factory for ball turrets for World War Two Air Force bombers; the dock of the pasta plant where the Civil War ironclads were built; the elegant townhouse that once served as an Albanian Orthodox Church. (Reedy Press)

The premise of This Used to Be St. Louis is simple — talk about lots of places we know in St. Louis — what they were and what they are now. For example, the Schlafly Tap Room, where my husband and I had our first date, was originally a printing company. Nearby is the 2020 Washington condos, but most everyone knows the handsome building as the Sporting News building. The publisher occupied the building for decades.  Originally, however, it was Emerson Electric’s Ball Turret Factory. Who knew? NiNi Harris — that’s who.

Warning — this book is very addictive. I’ll let you explore the book to read about the Civil War secessionist camp within our current city limits.  The book has many photos — mostly black & white — but it does have a nice color section in the center. It’s mostly the City of St. Louis, but also includes entries from St. Louis County.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future by Douglas Farr, Forward by Janette Sadik-Khan

June 11, 2018 Books, Environment, Featured Comments Off on New Book — Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future by Douglas Farr, Forward by Janette Sadik-Khan

After I met Douglas Farr at a St. Louis event in 2012 I traveled to Bloomington-Normal to experience some of his work, see What Is Normal? A Small College Town In Central Illinois. Being a fan off his work I was delighted when I received his latest book: Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future:

As a follow up to his widely acclaimed Sustainable Urbanism, this new book from author Douglas Farr embraces the idea that the humanitarian, population, and climate crises are three facets of one interrelated human existential challenge, one with impossibly short deadlines. The vision of Sustainable Nation is to accelerate the pace of progress of human civilization to create an equitable and sustainable world. The core strategy of Sustainable Nation is the perfection of the design and governance of all neighborhoods to make them unique exemplars of community and sustainability. The tools to achieve this vision are more than 70 patterns for rebellious change written by industry leaders of thought and practice. Each pattern represents an aspirational, future-oriented ideal for a key aspect of a neighborhood. At once an urgent call to action and a guidebook for change, Sustainable Nation is an essential resource for urban designers, planners, and architects.

I’ve had the hardcover book since April but haven’t had a chance to look at it until yesterday. The volume of detail is substantial. As usual. I like to show the contents so you can see how the book is organized:

  • Part One Our Default World
    • Chapter 1: Where We Are
    • Chapter 2: Case Studies: The Future Ahead of Schedule
  • Part Two Our Preferred Future
    • Chapter 3: Where We Want to Go
  • Part Three Theory of Change
    • Chapter 4: Theory of Change
    • Chapter 5: Time
    • Chapter 6: Acceleration Strategies
  • Part Four Patterns of Change
    • Chapter 7: Collective Effervescence
    • Chapter 8: Self-Governing Neighborhoods
    • Chapter 9: A Theater of Life
    • Chapter 10: Vibrant Density
    • Chapter 11: Mobility in Walkable Places
    • Chapter 12: Neighborhood Economy
    • Chapter 13: Urban Waters
    • Chapter 14: Stranded Carbon
    • Chapter 15: The New Health, Safety, and Welfare
  • Index

It’s part four where Farr lays out the specifics on getting to a sustainable future — building patterns to get us there. A year ago Farr discussed some of his research for this book at CNU25 (Congress for the New Urbanism):

As I haven’t studied the book and what it advocates, I can’t say if he’s on the right path or not. What I do love is he’s working solutions ro serious problems that need to be addressed — especially in St. Louis.

This looks to be a great book for anyone studying or working in related fields, unfortunately the hardcover lists for $80.  You can view a preview on Google Books. It’s available via Left Bank Books, Amazon, and others.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — Suburban Remix: Creating the Next Generation of Urban Places; Edited by Jason Beske and David Dixon

March 23, 2018 Books, Featured, Suburban Sprawl Comments Off on New Book — Suburban Remix: Creating the Next Generation of Urban Places; Edited by Jason Beske and David Dixon

The book I want to share with you today is about one of my favorite subjects — what to do with millions of acres of suburban sprawl.

The suburban dream of a single-family house with a white picket fence no longer describes how most North Americans want to live. The dynamics that powered sprawl have all but disappeared. Instead, new forces are transforming real estate markets, reinforced by new ideas of what constitutes healthy and environmentally responsible living. Investment has flooded back to cities because dense, walkable, mixed-use urban environments offer choices that support diverse dreams. Auto-oriented, single-use suburbs have a hard time competing.

Suburban Remix brings together experts in planning, urban design, real estate development, and urban policy to demonstrate how suburbs can use growing demand for urban living to renew their appeal as places to live, work, play, and invest. The case studies and analyses show how compact new urban places are already being created in suburbs to produce health, economic, and environmental benefits, and contribute to solving a growing equity crisis.

Above all, Suburban Remix shows that suburbs can evolve and thrive by investing in the methods and approaches used successfully in cities. Whether next-generation suburbs grow from historic village centers (Dublin, Ohio) or emerge de novo in communities with no historic center (Tysons, Virginia), the stage is set for a new chapter of development—suburbs whose proudest feature is not a new mall but a more human-scale feel and form. (Island Press)

As they point out, the suburbs aren’t going away — 2/3 of America lives there. But they will change.

As always, I like to show the contents:

Introduction by David Dixon

Part I: Setting the Stage
Chapter 1 – Urbanizing the Suburbs: The Major Development Trend of the Next Generation by Christopher Leinberger
Chapter 2 – From the Rise of Suburbs to the Great Reset by David Dixon

Part II: Suburban Markets
Chapter 3 – Housing by Laurie Volk, Todd Zimmerman, and Christopher Volk-Zimmerman
Chapter 4 – Office by Sarah Woodworth
Chapter 5 – Retail by Michael J. Berne

Part III Case Studies for Walkable Urban Places
Chapter 6 – Blueprint for a Better Region: Washington, DC by Stewart Schwartz
Chapter 7 – Tysons, Virginia by Linda Hollis and Sterling Wheeler
Chapter 8 – From Dayton Mall to Miami Crossing, Ohio by Chris Snyder
Chapter 9 – Shanghai’s Journey in Urbanizing Suburbia by Tianyao Sun
Chapter 10 – North York Center: An Example of Canada’s Urbanizing Suburbs by Harold Madi and Simon O’Byrne
Chapter 11 – Dublin, Ohio: Bridge Street Corridor by Terry Foegler
Chapter 12 – The Arlington Experiment in Urbanizing Suburbia by Christopher Zimmerman
Chapter 13 – From Village to City: Bellevue,Washington by Mark Hinshaw

Part IV: Bringing it All Together
Chapter 14 – Planning by David Dixon
Chapter 15 – Placemaking by Jason Beske

Conclusion by Jason Beske and David Dixon

Though this book contains many color photographs, it isn’t a coffee table book. There are plenty of graphs, charts, tables to illustrate the market analysis. The prospect of reshaping the suburbs was one of the most exciting things about studying to become an urban planner — until my stroke ended that prospect.

This book is available in hardcover, softcover, and digital.You can check out a preview here.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future

March 12, 2018 Books, Featured, Transportation Comments Off on New Book — Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future

There’s major change going on in transportation today — it is still undetermined if this change is a good thing. A new book from Island Press discusses the pros and cons:

For the first time in half a century, real transformative innovations are coming to our world of passenger transportation. The convergence of new shared mobility services with automated and electric vehicles promises to significantly reshape our lives and communities for the better—or for the worse.

The dream scenario could bring huge public and private benefits, including more transportation choices, greater affordability and accessibility, and healthier, more livable cities, along with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The nightmare scenario could bring more urban sprawl, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and unhealthy cities and individuals.

In Three Revolutions, transportation expert Dan Sperling, along with seven other leaders in the field, share research–based insights on potential public benefits and impacts of the three transportation revolutions. They describe innovative ideas and partnerships, and explore the role government policy can play in steering the new transportation paradigm toward the public interest—toward our dream scenario of social equity, environmental sustainability, and urban livability.

Many factors will influence these revolutions—including the willingness of travelers to share rides and eschew car ownership; continuing reductions in battery, fuel cell, and automation costs; and the adaptiveness of companies. But one of the most important factors is policy.

Three Revolutions offers policy recommendations and provides insight and knowledge that could lead to wiser choices by all. With this book, Sperling and his collaborators hope to steer these revolutions toward the public interest and a better quality of life for everyone. (Island Press)

Here’s the main chapters so you can see the topics addressed:

Chapter 1. Will the Transportation Revolutions Improve Our Lives—or Make Them Worse? \ Daniel Sperling, Susan Pike, and Robin Chase
Chapter 2. Electric Vehicles: Approaching the Tipping Point \ Daniel Sperling
Chapter 3. Shared Mobility: The Potential of Ride Hailing and Pooling \ Susan Shaheen
Chapter 4. Vehicle Automation: Our Best Shot at a Transportation Do-Over? \ Daniel Sperling, Ellen van der Meer, and Susan Pike
Chapter 5. Upgrading Transit for the Twenty-First Century \ Steven E. Polzin and Daniel Sperling
Chapter 6. Bridging the Gap Between Mobility Haves and Have-Nots \ Anne Brown and Brian D. Taylor
Chapter 7. Remaking the Auto Industry \ Levi Tillemann
Chapter 8. The Dark Horse: Will China Win the Electric, Automated, Shared Mobility Race? \ Michael J. Dunne

You can preview selected pages on Google Books.

This book isn’t a utopian fantasy about how transportation will be. Instead it’s a very grounded review of problems we’ll face as technology forces change — and how we might navigate it. You can buy it directly from Island Press, Left Bank Books, Amazon (additional preview), or other retailers.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

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