Streets! Love ‘em, hate ‘em. The mind-numbing sameness in the burbs has finally pushed this car guy over the cliff. Sure I have access to some fine country roads, but day-to-day errand running is on the same boring and oftentimes dangerous strip of suburban sprawl. This was country when we moved here over 20 years ago!. I want OUT!! Time for an urban experience that takes advantage of great mass transit and “walkability”, one of the sub-topics today on “Everything is Broken.”
I interviewed John Massengale about his book “Street Design … The Secret To Great Cities and Towns” (Wiley Press). He defines walkability with some basic criteria, all starting with the street itself … is it safe from cars, crime; are there “eyes of the street” (windows facing sidewalk and people in there!). He also said that streets should be viewed as outdoor rooms: width of street proportional to the “walls” – people like shaped spaces. Trees help a great deal. People also want an interesting, short block; not some long expanse of wall, but shops and architecturally pleasing buildings. Research shows that people when showed a stretch of street will invariable pick the same spots they find pleasing. And for you capitalists out there: there is a marked increase in ROI (return on investment) for municipalities when the street has these and other features.
I asked John what his favorite street in North America is. Answer: Main Street, Nantucket, MA. His favorite in Manhattan (he lives there folks): it varies from time to time, but right now: Crosby Street/Howard St. Here is a general reference map, but I suggest you go to Google Earth street view and pan around. What do you think?
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