Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that’s easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at.
Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities.
Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.
©2012 Jeff Speck (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Jeff presented a compelling case and I am excited and hopeful that my city will one day be really walkable instead of one that is neither here or there.
As an urban studies major and as someone who well versed in this subject, i believe the content is superb and that the narration is sooo absolutely boring and dreary. It was hard listening to Jeff speak and how every sentence sounds completely different from the next as if some paragraphs were done in multiple takes. I did not enjoy that and it was difficult to absorb all of the details and information from the great content of this book.
I am an architect. I was also taught, and for awhile was quite taken with, the idolization of the starchitect and the idea that the ultimate pursuit in architecture was to either have a strong theoretical concept and/or a bold architectural language. Every time I thought to myself quietly though, I began to really question if this is what makes attractive cities.
Fast forward a few years and I have for the most part dumped this idea and it's wonderful to have books which lend credence and weight to the argument that a quality city is made from a large collection of very small moves. This book illustrates this beautifully and I really hope more people in the building profession come to their senses and stop scarring our streets with oversized sculptural objects. Well done, Mr. Speck
I enjoyed this book and found the information very interesting. However, many points made by the author, though possible or probable, were defended passionately yet sometimes lacking unmistakable evidence. Many arguments had several variables that could not strongly defend its theories. That said, I believe a handful of the theories were valid and at least should be considered for city planners.
Took me a few minutes to get used to the author's voice, as opposed to one of those generic-spounding professional audiobook readers, but once I did it was clear that he put way more of his heart into it than anyone else could have. A fantastic book for anyone interested in cities, transportation, and urbanites.
Any book like this will benefit from illustrations and diagrams more readily available in print, however having the actual author read this to you adds something that you can't get in print.
The acknowledgement that one recipe can't work for every city and some cities would struggle to ever implement European/NYC style mass transit or walk-ability.
I have not.
The habit of walking can and should be coaxed rather than coerced.
A lifelong passion of mine is pedestrian friendly communities, so I'm definitely biased in favor of anything this book has to say, however, I was genuinely surprised how the subject matter adapted to the audio book format. I will probably buy the print version as a reference.
Knowing nothing about city planning, I started listening to this book while traveling in Europe for the first time. I wanted to know more about why places like Copenhagen, Paris, London, Krakow, etc, felt so much more walkable than my own Minneapolis and what was holding my home city back. He addressed everything I wanted to know, possibly with some bias; I dont know enough about urban planning to say for sure. Aside from a few recording issues, I enjoyed the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave me perspective as to why I enjoy some cities more than others. I travel a lot and now I can see why I love places like Europe and stay away from areas that don't cater to pedestrians. I definitely recommend this book.
I work in wayfinding and environmental graphics. Understanding better the notion of walkability has given me a bigger picture of the problem. I guess it is easy to become one of the specialists Speck critizes, but the arguments actually tend to enforce wayfinding decisions. In other words it has helped me get a sense of the subtle structure and hidden logics of the urban fabric
Your Brother in Christ
This book is about so much more than walking. It is about bringing life back to your city, back to your downtown. It is about bringing a sense of community back to your community and thus improving the quality of life for all involved. The book also deals with what can be done to help increase the use of Bicycling and other forms of transportation making people less dependent on the car.
Jeff isn’t anti-car. But he is pro-walking. And he rightly sees that taking a critical look at traffic laws, and the construction of traffic routes can ultimately make life better for the automobilist as well as the walker and revive a downtown area, and even an entire city, burbs included.
It’s something so obvious it goes almost unnoticed. But if people don’t feel safe walking, they won’t walk. And when neighborhoods are designed with the car in mind, no one walks. So you can feasibly spend ten years and never meet another soul in your neighborhood. We just drive from home to work to a box store, to home. Not only is it bad for our health, it’s bad for business, it’s bad for community.
Anyone who is involved in city planning, anyone who is involved in community ought to read or listen to this book. If you are a compulsive walker like I am, take a listen on your next walk.
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