Archive for the ‘Pedestrian’ Tag

Video on New Urbanism Neighborhoods

Take a bit of time to watch this video made by the Congress for New Urbanism. It explains why America has become so suburbanized and car obsessed. Building codes generally forbid building mixed used development as a way to avoid “the hassles of city life.” Having building codes where only one type of zone (such as commercial or residential) separates these different types of areas from being integrated together. In my mind the stratification caused by consistent one-type zoning is similar to the Jim Crow laws- a regression and obstacle for integration and social equity.

This video puts a lot of emphasis on low carbon emission neighborhoods, and I believe they are targeting the wrong characteristics and benefits of New Urbanism. Yes, low carbon is good but it likely isn’t a primary deciding factor of most Americans. Americans would rather live in somewhere exciting- a place that is unique in its own right. Some people might like where they live because it’s a small town. Others might like where they live because they have little space to maintain, or a lot of space for a large house with a large backyard and pool. Economists have always said you cannot explain preferences of people, so urban planners need to account for the different living styles some prefer. This is the greatest challenge for planners. At the same time very few Americans have lived in a planned New Urbanist/ Old Urbanist/ Traditional Neighborhood style environment, and have yet to decide if it is good or not, only the connotation formed by their previous experiences. Hopefully some of these videos will change some minds.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, VERTICES LLC

For additional information on New Urbanism, check out www.newurbanism.org

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Princeton Future: A community visioning plan for Princeton, NJ

A typical street scene on Nassau Street

A typical street scene on Nassau Street

Princeton has always been known for the small historic college town that it is. Princeton Future is a grassroots program designed to get the locals involved in the planning and policy of their town. There are several hot debates in Princeton about planning, and the one that I most consistently hear about is parking and traffic.

Thankfully, one meeting attendee “advocated a plan to get people out of their cars.” Now of course in this day of age it may be political suicide in most instances to take on people and their cars, but as planners and the local residents see their town continue to grow, the way to allieviate traffic and parking issues may be to limit the opportunities to have to drive.

For an example, the Town Topics weekly Princeton newspaper says that instead of granting variances to developers to meet parking requirements, developers should have to pay into a fund that should be designed to help mass transit options. The theory is that by doing so, it will help the traffic problem while also avoiding a need for more large parking areas. If by making public transit more accessible and convienient can help reduce each household by, on average, half a car, the fund should be viewed as a success.

However, as Kevin Wilkes puts it, “[sustainability] speaks to social and economic conditions, as well as those of energy and the environment.” He added: “[it is imperative] that we keep our population at all income levels present and happily working in town.” In other words, the whole goal of the visioning process should be catered around the needs of the people already living and working there, but also allow for economic growth. Many argue that Princeton’s parking problem is driving economic opportunities to more accessible places, so they need to create more parking to avoid such. However, I believe that planners must realize that catering too much to cars  destroys the walkability and small town feel that Princeton has been known and loved for.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Intern, Vertices LLC

All material in this post have come from http://www.towntopics.com

Picture from Wikipedia (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Holder_Tower_Nassau_Street_Princeton.jpg)

Community Mapping for a Community Vision

West Windsor Safe Routes Community Mapping Project

West Windsor Safe Routes Community Mapping Project

Community mapping provides a visual representation of your community, it allows citizens to get to know the area they line in and all of the services it has to offer. Too often, the real needs of the community are ignored because there is not a viable forum in which to discuss these issues. This is how community mapping can help. Community mapping broadens the awareness of local needs, issues and special places which are determined by members within the community.

To learn more about community mapping and see a few examples, please click here

Bridget Musselman

Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC