IX: URBANISM - Hercules seizes the belt of Hippolyte
different versions of the Labors of Hercules, especially as recounted
by poet and mythologist Robert Graves1, read like nightmares
bubbling up from the collective unconscious. Hercules rages at the
world and snorts at the sky gods like a wounded bull. He makes many
blunders, feels remorse at times, and tries to make amends. This
is exemplified in the ninth labor when Hercules is sent to steal
the golden, bejeweled belt belonging to Hippolyte, an Amazonian
queen. The belt was a gift to her from her father, the war god Ares.
Hippolyte was initially attracted to the muscular Hercules, and
willingly offered her belt to him. But Hera, the jealous stepmother
of Hercules, disguised herself as an Amazon and planted rumors that
made the warriors think Hercules was going to take the belt by force.
In the ensuing battle, Hercules killed Hippolyte to take the belt.
story is mythological, but the existence of ancient female warriors
is now supported by facts. In 1995, a number of female warriors
were found buried with their weapons in a Sarmatian tomb in present
day Pokrovka, Russia, near the Kazakhstan border. They were buried
between 500 B.C. and 200 B.C., which was about the same time period
as the development of the Amazonian myth.2 This somewhat
belies popular speculation about a peaceful, prehistoric, universal
matriarchy, which is grounded more in romantic thinking than fact,
and supports the idea that the rise in town building and technology,
which also led to population growth, also necessitated defensive
and war-making strategies.
the few thousand years since humans have been building towns and
making war in earnest, the Earth has became thoroughly peopled and
bound up with ribbons of concrete. All sorts of thundering, macho
chariots charge about, exhaling noxious fumes, while their drivers
look for compliant swaths of nature to roll over and subdue. In
the meantime, gods and goddesses that were closely aligned with
nature have nearly disappeared. The resulting ecological mess is
often said to be the unfathomable plan of the one great Patriarch
worshipped by followers of the three major monotheistic religions.
a more sustainable and nurturing view of the Earth’s future
has been taking shape in recent years. Now we use the metaphor of
Earth or “Gaia” as a living organism, which is grounded
in fact, but expressed in metaphor as a kind of divine feminine.
One of the ancient symbols of this revived goddess—the crescent
of the moon—happens to describe the shape of a volcano’s
caldera that juts above the sea 100 kilometers north of the island
of Crete. This dramatically beautiful Greek island, now known by
two names, Thera and Santorini, is also sometimes referred to by
a third name—Atlantis—because it appears to fit Plato’s
description of the famous lost civilization. On the southwestern
side of the island, archeologists have uncovered Akrotiri, a technologically
advanced Minoan city, which was preserved by an ash fall during
the 17th century BC eruption of Thera. Excavations at Akrotiri showed
that Minoans had well-engineered, multi-story buildings, and dual
plumbing systems that apparently accommodated both hot and cold
water. The flooded caldera of the volcano created a distinctive
harbor composed of concentric rings that supported a thriving Mediterranean
trade. The explosive eruption of Thera, which was about six times
bigger than the stupendous explosion of Krakatoa in 1883, put an
abrupt end to life on that island. The destruction of Thera, and
the tsunamis, ash-falls, and earthquakes that hit Crete may have
also marked the beginning of the end of the matrilineal, Minoan
would gaze down from Olympus to witness the wrath of Gaia 1,700
years later. In 79 AD, another Mediterranean volcano, Vesuvius,
erupted and buried Pompeii and the town of Hercules, Herculaneum.
Ancient myth had it that Herculaneum was founded by and therefore
named after Hercules, and the uncovering of the 2,000-year-old towns
in modern times has been called the thirteenth labor of Hercules.4
Interestingly, both of these ancient Roman towns have features that
are now being re-introduced today into the town planning movements
of New Urbanism and New Pedestrianism.
Town of Hercules: A Roman-Style Pedestrian Village buried
in AD 79
one living in compact Roman towns had to walk more than ten minutes
to a commercial center. Walking, calisthenics, sports, bathing,
full body skin care, and a diet rich in grains, fruit, and vegetables
helped maintain the general health. In the town of Hercules, the
main street was a pedestrian promenade closed off to vehicles. Covered
walkways, fountains, stores, and workshops teemed with shoppers
and people going about their business. At one end of the street
was a fountain crowned with a stone bust of Hercules. At the other
end was an archway that probably led to the Forum, which was the
civic center complete with shops, beautiful public buildings, and
temples. Vehicular streets in Herculaneum were paved with stones
and had underground storm drains, sidewalks and speed bumps for
traffic calming. Public art, architecture, and landscape design
were very important. Advertising was restricted, and littering was
dealt with harshly. Amphitheaters, bathhouses, most public buildings,
and even many private homes were built out of masonry with great
attention paid to every detail. The charm of the buildings, which
were expected to last for centuries, was enhanced on the outside
by plazas with fountains, statuaries, porticos, loggias, red clay
tile roofs, and formal gardens. On the inside of the buildings were
windows and balconies with views of sea and mountains, peristyle
gardens, and interior courtyards. Urban growth boundaries defined
the edge of the towns with stone walls, imposing gates, and arches
decorated with bas-relief and statues. People of all income levels
lived in close proximity to one another and everyone participated
in the public life. This pattern was repeated in most Roman towns,
which were sustained in harmony with nature for centuries. Even
ancient Rome, a city that had upwards of a million people, and which
endured for over 800 years, forbad vehicular traffic during certain
times so that citizens could walk the streets without fear of being
modern world has produced many technological wonders and advances
in civil rights. Many of our cities have great buildings, parks,
and other places to experience. Some of these architectural and
urban planning elements were introduced to the United States during
the City Beautiful Movement that lasted from the 1890s through the
1900s. The emphasis on good planning and making the cities better
essentially ended with the Great Depression, along with a lot of
other activities that could have advanced the public interest. During
WWII, American population centers continued to be neglected while
the elegant towns and charming villages of Europe were converted
into piles of rubble. The global economy recovered after the war,
but almost everything from that point on was built in cheap, minimalist
modernist style, the existence of which was justified with arcane,
vainglorious pontifications from architects keen to make a name
for themselves. Their buildings made of steel, glass, and concrete,
while initially commanding attention for being different, eventually
became overbearing, and ubiquitous. It was called International
Style, which was appropriate because it made no reference to local
geography, climate, or tradition. It would also prove to be ill-equipped
anywhere to meet cultural, aesthetic, or psychological needs. Most
efforts to expand on modernism, done partly in an effort to counteract
the banality of it, seems to be primarily driven by the ego of individual
architects and their sponsors. Today, buildings that clash with
or dominate their surroundings are news because of shock value instead
of lasting value. Pushed to its extreme, a modern design movement
called deconstructivism6 includes buildings that appear
to have been pushed over by a hurricane or twisted by an earthquake,
and for that reason can complete with other natural disasters for
public fascination and outrage.
slide into modernism began during the roaring 20’s with the
mass production of the automobile and the birth of the International
Style of architecture and urban design. However, the effects were
not widely felt until after the war when attention shifted back
to consumers. From the 1950s, urban planning became primarily an
engineering exercise in how to move cars around at the highest speed
A 1925 plan by Swiss architect Le Corbusier called for the destruction
of the historic Marais district of central Paris and its replacement
with broad freeways lined with skyscrapers. In 1927, his dream of
the future went like this: “The cities will become part of
the country: I shall live thirty miles from my office in one direction;
my secretary will live thirty miles away from it too, in another
direction, under another pine tree. We shall both own cars. We shall
use up tires, wear out road surfaces and gears, consume oil and
Le Corbusier’s 1920s vision of the future
(Redrawn by Michael E. Arth)
dream of an automobile-dominated lifestyle, with everything separated
by highly specific land use zoning, became our real life nightmare.
Officials rejected Corbusier’s plan for Paris, but variations
on his vision of the future has prevailed in La Defense, Paris’
satellite downtown, and in the rest of the world as well. His illustration
of early 20th century cars on 21st century freeways fails to depict
traffic jams, but otherwise it was frighteningly prescient. This
plan marked the beginning of the end for aesthetics as well as socially
and historically responsible urban design. Both capitalist and communist
countries alike readily adopted Le Corbusier’s totalitarian
vision. In urban renewal projects and in public housing projects
all around the world, deteriorating but functional neighborhoods
were replaced with countless towers erected in parking lots next
to freeways. To add insult to injury, what Corbusier’s called
“Radiant Cities” were dressed up with garish signage,
billboards, utility wires, parking lots, pollution, and urban sprawl
that further degraded the landscape. This became the standard to
which planners aspired, thus resulting in few buildings or towns
worth caring about being built in 75 years. Today planning laws
in the U.S. dictate that nothing be near anything else, with different
types of buildings all segregated by zoning in different areas that
are, for practical purposes, only accessible by motor vehicles.
Traffic and fire code engineers have developed standardized road
widths, corner radii, signage, and landscaping restrictions. These
and other rules have restricted tree-lined thoroughfares and encouraged
strip development where hideous, low-slung buildings are pushed
back behind parking lots or garages.
standards were supposed to have increased safety and circulation.
Instead dreary and monotonous roads are clogged with cars and trucks
that diminish our quality of life and perpetuate an annual demolition
derby involving 6 million motor vehicle accidents. This ongoing
national catastrophe produces 3 million injuries and 42,000 deaths
every single year, with about half a million deaths worldwide. The
economic impact of these crashes was estimated to be $230.6 billion
in 2000, with $170 billion of that being paid through taxes.8
The human, environmental, and economic costs related to foul-ups
with our dominant mode of transportation in this country is roughly
equal to re-fighting the entire 20-year Vietnam War every 15 months.
The death rate from automobile accidents every single month is equal
to all American losses in Iraq in both Gulf Wars.
loss of life and limb and the direct costs of accidents is only
the tip of the iceberg. To this we must also add the enormous costs
associated with buying, fueling, and maintaining motor vehicles,
and the many problems associated with foreign oil dependency, pollution,
commuting, automobile-related urban sprawl and other quality of
life issues. A 1998 study by the International Center for Technology
Assessment9 put the actual cost of a gallon of gas in
1997 at between $5.60 and $15.14 per gallon if all the various external
costs and subsidies are calculated in. What must this cost be today—especially
once the cost of defending American oil interests is calculated.
a result of all the misery that has resulted from accommodating
the automobile, the words “developer” and “development”
have become epithets. Citizens understandably bemoan or actively
protest every new development that will inevitably result in more
traffic and further degradation of their quality of life.
have personally witnessed the paving of this road to ruin since
I was a kid growing up in a series of Texas towns. In 1964, our
family of eight, headed by a geologist working in the oil business,
was transferred from Midland to Houston. The next year my dad quit
his job with Texaco and took a job with Mobil in Dallas. We moved
to Euless, a half-hour commute from Dallas. Euless was a forlorn
collection of housing developments divided in half by a commercial
strip that had sprung up on a four-lane highway that ran between
Dallas and Fort Worth. The next clutch of housing developments down
the highway was called Hurst. We kids hated both Euless and Hurst,
which seemed like nowhere, and we would respond with sarcastic mock
pride by chanting “Euless is useless but Hurst is worse.”
was some beauty next to the beast. As a boy I used to ride my bicycle
to a prairie the size of Manhattan where I collected returnable
soda bottles along a nearly deserted farm-to-market road. From the
open range I was able make out the downtown buildings of Dallas
or Fort Worth, about twenty miles in opposite directions. Since
those days, that prairie has been paved over with one of the world’s
largest airports, and the sprawl of the two cities has merged together
into a “Metroplex” with six million people spread over
10,228 square miles in twelve counties. That’s the size of
New Jersey and Rhode Island put together! Today, commuters battle
traffic delays during peak hours that increased almost five-fold
from 1982 to 2002.10 The Dallas-Ft.Worth Metroplex, the
quintessential model of sprawl, is replicated all over the U.S.
with mind-numbing regularity and conformity. If the current rate
of population growth in the U.S. were to somehow continue, with
the same rate of sprawl, there would be a billion Americans in a
vast Coast-to-Coastplex by 2100.
before those bottle-collecting days in Texas, one of my major life
obsessions was urban design. When I was 12, I avidly read a 1965
article in Time Magazine11 about a new town near Washington
D.C. called Reston. I loved the idea that new towns could be created,
but ultimately became disappointed at what the planners were coming
up with. Over the years I spent countless hours designing houses
and towns while trying to envision the perfect city. Reston, VA,
which would, like the rest of the country, become overrun with cars
and modernist buildings, would not be it.
an adult, I traveled and lived in many places, including five years
abroad. I was constantly looking for the perfect place to live,
which I never found, except in my own imagination. Nonetheless,
my favorite cities had readily accessible public transportation
and attractive car-free promenades at their heart, where one could
feel the pulse of the city without choking on exhaust or being deafened
by the roar of traffic. I lived for two years in Paris, which has
a maze of charming narrow streets in the Left Bank, some of which
are closed off to cars. I also lived in Munich, which has Marienplatz,
a car-free central plaza in front of City Hall, various walking
streets, and the delightful 3.7 sq. kilometer English Garden. I
visited the major cities of Europe, and all the continents except
Antarctica. In 1983, I decided to move to Boulder, Colorado—sight
unseen—based almost entirely on the knowledge that the town
had created a car-free outdoor mall on their main street.
Later, during the twelve years I designed and built houses in Los
Angeles, I lived in a neighborhood called Hollywoodland, which was
developed in the Hollywood Hills in the 1920s. The famous Hollywood
sign used to read “Hollywoodland” and was an advertisement
for this neighborhood, until the word “land” was removed
in 1949. While living in Hollywoodland, I would almost every day
walk down the hill to the little village center. On the weekends
often visit Venice, CA and walk on the canal streets or on the beachside
promenade. Or I would drive to Universal’s car-free Citywalk
in Burbank, to experience a simulacrum of the life that should be
at the heart of every town. In Santa Barbara, my wife Maya and I
lived downtown. Every day I walked or rode my bicycle through paseos
and outdoor malls, and along miles of seaside trails. In 1999, while
researching this book, I spent some time in Florida visiting new
towns including Seaside, Rosemary Beach and Celebration, and some
old towns in neighboring states including Savannah, Charleston,
and Beaufort, SC. All of these places had elements that were vastly
superior in terms of architecture, street layout, coherency, and
livability compared to the usual sprawl development. However, there
was still something missing in all of these towns in the way cars
were dealt with. It kills the mood (and sometimes the pedestrian!)
to be walking through historic Savannah, Charleston, or Paris and
be surrounded by traffic and parked cars.
Downtown DeLand, FL
are still hints, in some places, of what we could have done better.
In the walk-streets of some neighborhoods in Venice, California
sidewalks—or canals with adjoining sidewalks—take the
place of automobile streets. These car-free corridors in Venice,
some dating back to 1905, have sidewalks that are too narrow to
accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists, and in many cases people
have put up fences or walls that diminish the charm. The walk streets
are fragmentary and most do not lead anywhere except to busy, noisy,
dirty streets located in a marginal, high-crime area. Automobile
access is from narrow, treeless back alleys that are lined with
power lines, trash cans, and parked cars. Nevertheless, even with
the drawbacks, it is still better than the usual fare. Homebuyers
in Venice, including actress Julia Roberts, have paid a 50%-200%
lot price premium just to have a house that faces these charming,
streets in Venice, CA, with and without canals
Antonio’s Riverwalk (a.k.a., Paseo del Rio, designed in 1927)
is a landscaped promenade on both sides of the narrow, winding,
flood-protected San Antonio River. The promenade connects various
businesses, a shopping mall, sidewalk restaurants, historic buildings,
the Alamo, an outdoor amphitheater, and an arts and crafts marketplace.
With seven million visitors a year, it is so successful that the
rest of the central business district is a ghost town by comparison.
over the U.S. there are car-free promenades that attract visitors
eager to walk in a safe, attractive, and stimulating environment.
Examples include the Boulder, Colorado outdoor mall, various theme
parks, Disney Downtown in Orlando, Citywalk in Burbank and Orlando,
and 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA. In many cities one
can find car-free, seaside promenades, theme parks, zoos, and botanical
gardens. For lack of a better place, people also flock to local
corporate-owned and regulated shopping malls. Here, despite the
harsh echoing of sound creating by the indoor location, the relentless
focus on merchandising and shopping, the paucity of social amenities
or housing, and the necessity to drive to and then park in the sea
of cars that surrounds it like a moat, the mall is still a place
to walk in a car-free environment.
Radburn, NJ (1928), in certain European communities, and in a Village
Homes in Davis CA (completed in 1981) greenbelt trails or open spaces
were put in behind residences. I proposed this sort of street pattern
myself around 1973 (See town plan for “Corfu New Town”).
While this idea is vastly superior to automobile suburbs, especially
when coupled with sustainable solar power, orchards, and gardens,
as is the case with Village Homes, it is still not optimal because
the open spaces decrease density and increase travel distances.
Neighbors are not as close together, so community connections are
not optimized. At Village Homes, the dated, ranch-style houses have
an unattractive street side with junk-filled carports, and the greenbelt
view is of the rear of the houses. The narrow meandering paths are
not necessarily shaded, thus further reducing the incentive to use
them for purposeful, efficient, alternative travel to a village
center (which does not exist in this development). Even so, compared
to typical sprawl development, Village Homes is a successful, ongoing
experiment in sustainable, pedestrian-oriented living. The crime
rate is reported to be one-tenth of the surrounding area.12
1999, while beginning to write this chapter on urbanism, I developed
an urban design philosophy that I call New Pedestrianism (NP). New
Pedestrianism is a more ecology, aesthetic, and pedestrian-oriented
branch of New Urbanism, which in turn is a revival of the old urbanism.
Traditional urbanism, which can be observed in older cities all
over the world, incorporated many effective principles and practices
in town building that predate the automobile. Some vestiges of these
traditional towns survive, but they have become universally compromised
by the automobile. For example, in crime-ridden Naples, Italy I
recently observed a once-charming public square that had become
privatized into a valet parking lot. The cars were packed in so
tightly that they could only be moved like a giant sliding puzzle
by the manic, chain-smoking hoodlums who guarded the keys. I gave
up trying to cross the plaza and instead took my chances weaving
around cars that blocked the sidewalk along the surrounding streets.
Whether it’s Naples, Beijing, or Dallas, traveling to almost
any city in the world has become a journey conducted through a labyrinth
of noisome, cacophonous, traffic-choked streets.
New Urbanism13 movement has addressed many of the problems
that have been introduced by the automobile age. It is an attempt
to combine traditional street patterns and design with modern requirements
to create compact, livable, walkable neighborhoods and towns that
people care about. Other important goals of New Urbanism include
preservation of older neighborhoods and buildings, enhancing public
transportation, and encouraging connectivity.
Urbanists seek to safely amend Department of Transportation guidelines,
traffic-engineering requirements, zoning and planning laws, building
and fire codes, and other regulations to allow these improvements.
Most of these improvements have been written into the Smartcode,14
a comprehensive form-based planning ordinance, that has been developed
by the Duany Plater-Zyberk Company (DPZ) and is available for free.
despite valiant efforts, almost none of the New Urbanist projects
adequately reduce the impact of motor vehicles or properly address
pedestrian/bicyclist safety and comfort. When retrofitting existing
cities, it is a difficult problem to surmount because of existing
street patterns that cannot be easily modified. However, in new
towns and neighborhoods this can be done very easily. Pedestrian
lanes in front of houses and business can be so pleasant and alluring
that people feel drawn to walk or bicycle on them without interacting
in any way with the noise, filth, danger or aesthetic degradation
from automobiles. At the same time, automobiles are here to stay
and they must be accommodated as well. Providing alternative travel
possibilities and requiring all new developments to be Pedestrian
Villages would vastly reduce the number of car trips for those people
living there, thus reducing the overall impact on the existing roads.
This would reduce energy consumption, improve mental and physical
health, save money, be more sustainable and efficient, and increase
the cohesiveness of the community.
and gated communities are widely used in automobile suburbs as a
desperate response to issues of safety, aesthetics, and traffic
congestion. New Urbanism promotes connectivity to get rid of cul-de-sacs
and gated communities, but does not sufficiently address problems
created by motor vehicles.
important elements of New Urbanism that also apply to New Pedestrianism
Design ranging from a single building to a whole city that takes
into account human centered concerns of all kinds that result in
the highest public benefit.
Urban Growth Boundaries: Setting a boundary to the towns and cities,
so that development can be concentrated in a more efficient, more
sustainable manner that also makes other New Urbanist elements more
Walkability: a neighborhood or town center is within five to ten
minutes walk and walking is made easier with pedestrian-friendly
features including street trees, buildings close to the street,
on-street parking, concealed parking lots. Pedestrian streets are
sometimes incorporated in intensely commercial areas.
Aesthetics: Emphasis on attractive public buildings and homes with
a sense of permanence that enhance community-building activities
and increase social networks. Reduction of billboards, clutter,
overhead power lines. Increase in landscaping, especially street
trees planted in formal rows that enhance the beauty and harmony
Environment: Increased connection to nature, with street patterns,
public transportation, parks, and buildings that are built with
green principles in mind. Creation and maintenance of an urban forest.
Sustainability in all areas, including reducing the use of fossil
fuels by lowering automobile use and commuting.
Connectivity: (narrower) two-way streets all connect to one another.
Cul-de-sacs and gated communities are discouraged. With New Pedestrianism,
cul-de-sacs are permitted for automobile streets, since Pedestrian
Lanes become the principle throughways.
Traffic calming devices: narrower streets,
Diversity of use and diversity of people: Mixing of all types of
people, with no segregating by housing cost or age. Mixed-use is
encouraged, with varying density, shops, schools, and entertainment
that help give a neighborhood texture and a sense of place.
Creating a well-defined center to the neighborhood or town with
attractive human scale public spaces.
Alternative transportation including rail, bus, Increased density
to benefit community and alternative transportation
Livability: Adding up all of the above results in a better life,
a more stable community, less stress, more walking (which results
in less obesity and better health in general). Safer, friendlier,
better relationships, more independence for children. Access to
nature. Less time spent in traffic, environmental benefits. More
efficient use of infrastructure, more economic.
OF NEW PEDESTRIANISM
BENEFITS TO RESIDENTS
quality of life; Better places to live, work, and play; Higher,
more stable property values; Less traffic congestion & less
driving; Healthier lifestyle with more walking, and less stress;
Close proximity to main street retail & services; Close proximity
to bike trails, parks, and nature; Pedestrian friendly communities
offer more opportunities to get to know others in the neighborhood
and town, resulting in meaningful relationships with more people,
and a friendlier town; More freedom and independence to children,
elderly, and the poor in being able to get to jobs, recreation,
and services without the need for a car or someone to drive them;
Great savings to residents and school boards in reduced busing costs
from children being able to walk or bicycle to neighborhood schools;
More diversity and smaller, unique shops and services with local
owners who are involved in community; Big savings by driving less,
and owning less cars; Less ugly, congested sprawl to deal with daily;
Better sense of place and community identity with more unique architecture;
More open space to enjoy that will remain open space; More efficient
use of tax money with less spent on spread out utilities and roads
BENEFITS TO BUSINESSES
sales due to more foot traffic and people spending less on cars
and gas; More profits due to spending less on advertising and large
signs; Better lifestyle by living above shop in live-work units
- saves the stressful & costly commute; Economies of scale in
marketing due to close proximity and cooperation with other local
businesses; Smaller spaces promote small local business incubation;
Lower rents due to smaller spaces and smaller parking lots; Healthier
lifestyle due to more walking and being near healthier restaurants;
More community involvement from being part of community and knowing
BENEFITS TO DEVELOPERS
income potential from higher density mixed-use projects due to more
leasable square footage, more sales per square footage, and higher
property values and selling prices; Faster approvals in communities
that have adopted smart growth principles resulting in cost / time
savings; Cost savings in parking facilities in mixed-use properties
due to sharing of spaces throughout the day and night, resulting
in less duplication in providing parking; Less need for parking
facilities due to mix of residences and commercial uses within walking
distance of each other; Less impact on roads / traffic, which can
result in lower impact fees; Lower cost of utilities due to compact
nature of New Urbanist design; Greater acceptance by the public
and less resistance from NIMBYS; Faster sell out due to greater
acceptance by consumers from a wider product range resulting in
wider market share
BENEFITS TO MUNICIPALITIES
appreciating tax base; Less spent per capita on infrastructure and
utilities than typical suburban development due to compact, high-density
nature of projects; Increased tax base due to more buildings packed
into a tighter area; Less traffic congestion due to walkability
of design; Less crime and less spent on policing due to the presence
of more people day and night; Less resistance from community; Better
overall community image and sense of place; Less incentive to sprawl
when urban core area is desirable; Easy to install transit where
it's not, and improve it where it is; Greater civic involvement
of population leads to better governance
from a synthesis of these lists, combined with what has worked elsewhere,
it seemed clear that the solution in new neighborhoods and towns
is to build Pedestrian Villages that segregate cars from pedestrians.
We begin by replacing the front street into an ample (12’
to 15’), tree-lined, shared-use lane (a.k.a. Pedestrian Lane)
for pedestrians as well as people on quiet, low-speed rolling conveyances
such as bicyclists, rollerbladers, Segways, electric scooters, skateboarders,
and wheelchairs. A minimum of seven feet of smooth pavement should
be allocated for the wheeled conveyances and a minimum width of
five feet with stamped concrete or brick should be on the pedestrian
side. The width of the lanes and the texture coding insures a harmonious
shared use. For infill or isolated developments with a small number
of homes, the shared-use lane can be narrowed down to as little
as six feet.
are shown in red,
streets in yellow.
lanes should be in front of every house in every new development,
and they should not only connect to each other throughout the development
but also to a village center, and to other Pedestrian Villages or
the surrounding community. This would make it easy to use low impact,
alternative travel, and create a pleasant linear park that connects
to every home and business. All homes and businesses should be serviced
with a rear street that allows full access and parking for motor
vehicles. The rear automobile street would also be tree-lined, and
the houses would have formal garden gates where visitors arriving
by car could call. Homeowners would be encouraged to build guest
quarters above their garages to increase density, provide less expensive
alternative housing, and to give a presence on the street. This
would work for row houses or free-standing houses. Trash collection
and underground utilities would also be serviced from the rear.
These leafy, peaceful, yet vibrant pedestrian lanes would connect
to plazas, courtyards, parks, playgrounds, grand promenades, greenbelt
trails, woodland paths, waterfront boardwalks, schools, and commercial
centers. Walking and biking, done in a routine manner in a Pedestrian
Village, would address the epidemic of obesity, increase safety,
and help solve a wide range of problems related to transportation,
ecology and aesthetics.
speaking, residences on quiet streets are more sought after than
those found on busy streets. For that reason, cul-de-sacs, dead-end
streets, narrow streets, and private driveways are considered highly
desirable. By contrast, all homes in a Pedestrian Village would
face car-free lanes. This fact alone would prevent the tyranny of
judging locations simply based on street characteristics and traffic
circulation. Pedestrian lanes also add value by interconnecting
to a wide variety of amenities. The lots can be also be smaller,
because once the traffic and parked cars are hidden at the rear,
it is perfectly acceptable to move the house closer to the pedestrian
lane in order to increase charm, safety, and social interaction.
This increases density and makes the neighborhood more walkable,
thus allowing for more resources to be devoted to public amenities.
The paved area is generally less than the New Urbanist model, which
has a street with sidewalks, and a paved back alley. All of these
features make New Pedestrianism attractive to both developers and
New Pedestrianism showing street pattern in a Pedestrian
Village. Typical front and rear
residential elevations shown. Note that the automobile street is
also tree-lined and attractive.
1999, I began designing urban projects and new towns to show how
New Pedestrianism could work, including a car free town at Two Harbors
on Catalina Island, off the Southern California coat. (See illustration
also scouted various towns, blighted neighborhoods, and clusters
of buildings across the country that I could rehabilitate as a living
laboratory to test some of the proposals. I was especially attracted
to bungalow courts, which are clusters of bungalows built around
courtyards that were very popular in Southern California in the
early 1900s. Many of them have car-free courtyards and concealed
parking. In 1987, I lived in a bungalow court in the Hollywood Hills,
and even considered buying it in 2000 before finding a challenging
project in Florida.
CRACKTOWN TO GARDEN DISTRICT
Slum in 2001 |
Phoenix Court in 2004
was intrigued by a listing in a small town in Florida for a cluster
of barren, concrete block buildings that were only two blocks from
a traditional main street that was in the process being revived.
The houses and duplexes were set around a treeless, hard-packed
sand pit that was used for parking, which was lightly scented with
the aroma of an overflowing dumpster. A snarling dog was tied to
a stake to monitor visitors. Despite these challenges, it had the
potential of being turned into a bungalow court because the three
lots they occupied were owned by one entity. The most serious drawback
was not the condition of the buildings. They were actually some
of the better ones in the neighborhood. Rather it was the fact of
their location in a small but pernicious slum, which in turn was
composed mostly of structures that were abandoned, burned out, or
otherwise decrepit. The buildings were also punctuated with overgrown
empty lots. The area was peopled with a mostly transient population
of crack cocaine dealers, vagrants, addicts, hookers, and criminals
engaged in all sorts of unpleasant activities. In order to not be
swallowed up by the wave of crime and crud, I had to buy up enough
buildings to turn the tide. Within a short time I accumulated 30
homes and businesses, either from owners eager to sell or from a
tax auction, and spent six years retrofitting Cracktown into something
more like a Pedestrian Village. Other people also joined in and
spread the redevelopment into the surrounding blocks. Recently it
was awarded historic designation, and it is now considered to be
one of the most charming neighborhoods in DeLand.15
buildings set around the treeless parking lot were turned into Phoenix
Court. Front porches now overlook private gardens defined by picket
fences, and residents have a view of the communal central fountain,
and palm-lined pedestrian lanes. The Garden District, where I still
live with my family, is close walking distance to historic downtown
DeLand. In the course of being a designer, developer, landlord,
and employer, I got an education in community building, and intend
to use those skills in building Pedestrian Villages from scratch.16
Some Garden District Buildings before and after rehabilitation
is hard to change the built environment for the better, which makes
it all the more frustrating for me see that with every passing year
our country just gets uglier and less habitable for most living
things. Continual disappointment at this spreading blight sits in
my gut like a stone. Nearly every street and building in America
bears the scars of poor choices that have been made since the dawn
of the automobile age. The only thing more disappointing than having
to suffer with it is to hear some people defend it by saying that
people are only being delivered what they want by the market. When
almost everything that is offered is automobile sprawl, determined
by standardized zoning and traffic engineering standards, people
will choose it only because they are not being offered a choice.
An important factor in accepting the acceptable is habituation—we
are just used to it. Some people will defend it, just because “that’s
the way we do things here in America,” or say “move
to Europe if you don’t like it.” Some critics say that
New Urbanism is nostalgic, or fighting progress, or an attack on
property rights, free speech, or patriotism.
reality, citizens all across the political spectrum—even many
libertarians endorsing the dog-eat-dog political philosophy—do
not like sprawl, traffic congestion, and what author James Howard
Kunstler calls the national automobile slum. Nonetheless, I have
occasionally heard critics complain that New Urbanism is only embraced
by liberals and that any legal constraint on design or growth is
a restriction on liberty.
tested this hypothesis by conducting some informal interviews with
the residents of Celebration, the New Urbanist new town built near
Orlando. After one resident blurted out, “We’re all
Republicans here!” I looked no farther. Subsequently I discovered
a number of conservative thinkers who support New Urbanism, which
is not surprising since it advocates a return to town planning that
is closer to traditional community values. Paul Weyrich, who founded
the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank, and is one
of the founders of the American New Right, has written a series
of articles in support of New Urbanism.17 A Presbyterian
Minister, Eric Jackobsen, has written a book in support of New Urbanism
from the conservative Christian perspective.18 Also,
conservative architect Philip Bess, has written in his book, Till
We Have Build Jerusalem: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Sacred,
an enthusiastic endorsement of New Urbanism:
conservative argument for urbanism...goes like this: The best life
for human beings is the life of moral and intellectual excellence
lived in community with others. All communities exist for the sake
of some particular purpose its members commonly hold to be good.
The singular and defining good of the city is that it is a community
of communities, the purpose of which is to promote the very best
life possible for its inhabitants. Good cities do precisely that.
Thus, cities are in themselves a valuable and objective human good;
in this view, politics—and even the most devoutly held political
beliefs—are subservient to the good for which cities exist…
the essential New Urbanist argument is simply that the physical
form of the cities matters to human wellbeing, that there are observable
and repeatable physical patterns of traditional human settlement-making
that have served human beings well over long periods of time, and
that therefore these physical patterns of human settlement ought
to be studied, extended, and improved rather than abandoned to the
current legal and cultural regime of sprawl that often prohibits
and almost always discourages good urban design.19
in response to libertarians, Bess said, “We believe that individuals
have both rights and obligations, that individual well-being requires
good communities, and that liberty is not license... Individuals
should have as much freedom as justice allows.”20
fact is that most people, regardless of their politics, want to
be surrounded by beauty in a dynamic, livable community with attractive,
tree-lined streets and convenient amenities. Most people want to
be close to both work and play and not be a slave to the automobile.
Unfortunately, we are slaves both to our cars and to the degraded
urban environment that supports them. In Douglas Adams’ various
forms of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy an alien in human
form is assumed to have studied Earth before arriving and then concluded
that cars are the dominant life form, apparently with earthlings
as their friendly carbon-based parasites. The alien takes the name
Ford Prefect in order to become “nicely inconspicuous.”
Soon after arriving on Earth Ford attempts to shake hands with an
actual Ford Prefect that is speeding toward him.
easy as a SUV squashes a pedestrian, the post WWII rush to the automobile
suburbs, abetted by construction of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National
System of Interstate and Defense Highways (commonly known as the
Interstate Highway System), devastated the centers of our cities
and towns. What sprawl started, the Drug War and strip malls finished.
The inner cities became battlegrounds. Even small towns like DeLand
developed ugly, dangerous slums.
Part of Le Corbusier's
vision was dynamited in 1972
in many bigger cities were bulldozed to make room for high-rise
public housing developments like the notorious Cabrini-Green Chicago.21
In DeLand, a 25-acre public housing project replaced a golf course
adjacent to what would later become my own neighborhood. In St.
Louis, a neighborhood was replaced with 33 eleven-story buildings
in the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex. These buildings became
infamous in 1972 when the vertical slums, which had never been fully
occupied, had to be demolished only 14 years after they were finished.22
Apparently, the memory of it was so toxic that nothing was ever
built in its place. Pruitt-Igoe was designed by modernist architect
Minoru Yamasaki. He was the same man who designed the World Trade
Center, which at first was infamous for being big, tall and ugly,
and then, like Pruitt-Igoe, was famous for having been destroyed.
Now public housing projects all over the country, including Cabrini-Green
and DeLand’s housing project, are being demolished and, in
some cases, being replaced with traditional style housing that lends
itself to community building.
PROBLEM WITH THE 'BURBS
the inner cities languished, the suburbs had their own problems.
Isolation inherent in suburbs, where a sense of community is lacking,
has brought on psychological and even physiological distress. Shopping
malls are offered up as the alternative to community, but privately
owned and controlled indoor environments, where spending money is
the only encouraged activity, does not create a rich tapestry of
history, social encounters, activities, and interactions that a
community needs to survive.
John Howard Kunstler, the author of The Geography of Nowhere,
has all the spread-outness of the country, but none of the rural
amenities—nature comes only in the form of the lawn, the juniper
shrub in the bark-mulch bed, and the berm between the K-mart and
the housing development. Suburbia is the country de-natured. Suburbia
has all the congestion of the city and none of the social excitement,
none of the cultural amenity. Suburbia has luxurious family rooms
with wall-sized TVs and plenty of bathrooms per inhabitant. But
the public space is impoverished—nowhere for teenagers to
hang out except the parking lot in front of the Dunkin Donuts.It’s
a raw deal for everybody. It makes people lonely and crazy, and
then it makes them feel bad about that because it’s supposed
to be the American Dream—it’s supposed to make us happy,
and if it doesn’t, well, there must be something wrong with
was promised to be the American Dream has turned out to be the National
Automobile Slum. The United Parking Lot of America, from sea to
shining sea. The automobile suburb is an experiment that’s
failed. We ought to simply declare this to be the new reality of
the 21st century, and get on with the job of creating a human habitat
that is worth caring about and worth living in.
SPRAWL AND FIXING THE FIX
New Urbanism movement was, and is, an attempt to change this. New
Urbanism had its first stirrings in 1960s with the publication of
Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
But it was not fully born until the early 1980s with the design
and construction of Seaside, a new beachside town in the Florida
panhandle. Seaside, designed by husband and wife team, Andrés
Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, revived traditional town planning
concepts and coupled it with architecture that combined the new
with the old. This husband and wife team, and other urban designers,
then went on to found the Congress for the New Urbanism.24
Today there are many New Urbanist developments around the world,
where attempts are being made to make the cities livable again.
Pedestrianism addresses the shortcomings of New Urbanism, which
has often been compromised by having to overcome institutionalized
planning laws. When New Urbanism is hybridized with sprawl development,
as in compromised pseudo New Urbanism, the result is development
that is still dysfunctional and car crazy. The most successful examples
of New Urbanism include the first new town, Seaside, and it’s
sister, Rosemary Beach, which actually has boardwalks in front of
some of the houses. There is no reason why new towns and neighborhoods
cannot be built with the same charm and attention to detail that
attended these resort villages.
new and old towns, even the best of the New Urbanist developments,
lack elements that could resolve the transportation, ecological,
social, and quality of life issues. Reviving traditional urban design
by itself does not adequately address the fact that there are more
cars on the road, nor does it sufficiently separate cars from pedestrians
and bicyclists. In 2004, I founded a design and development company,
Pedestrian Villages Inc., which will endeavor to build new neighborhoods
and towns that follow these principles:
Attractive, tree-lined streets for automobiles are located behind
homes and businesses. Garages are located at the rear, and driveways
are deep enough for parking behind the garage or carriage house.
A tree-lined pedestrian lane 12’ to 15’ wide is located
in front. The houses are built close to what is a quiet and charming
linear park. Front porches, picket fences, and small gardens will
take the place of wide expanses of water hungry lawn.
Guesthouses above the rear garage are encouraged, along with garden
walls, gates, and trellises, in order to provide low cost housing,
enhance the beauty of the automobile street at the rear, and increase
Every neighborhood and new town has a village center that everyone
can access easily without a car. In a small neighborhood, minimum
amenities would include a general store/café/restaurant,
a neighborhood swimming pool and gym, a postal facility where everyone
picks up their snail mail, a playground, a public transit stop,
and a natural feature such as a pond, lake, river, or beach. Live/work
offices or shops would also be encouraged.
Every village has a design review board to help insure that each
new building is an asset to the community. Villages are laid out
with concern for aesthetics, access, and livability.
Visual pollution: Utilities are underground. Billboards are forbidden
and signage is minimized.
Villages are designed for future use including alternative energy
sources, conduits for high-tech communications, and public transportation.
Urban Growth Boundaries with Greenbelt trails surround each village
and connect to surrounding areas including any neighboring villages.
Traditional architecture is encouraged, front porches are required.
Design review board mandatory. Certain “wild streets”
are allowed with looser, more experimental design standards.
Formal street trees and drip irrigation are required at the time
of initial development to establish the urban canopy. The streets
are designed for both automobile and pedestrian safety.
TO THE FUTURE: EVOLUTION OF THE GARDEN DISTRICT, DELAND
MATURE TRADITIONAL NEIGHBORHOOD
block of East Voorhis Avenue, in DeLand, Florida, looking west.
This shows a narrow street lined with cathedral-like oak trees that
were planted a half-century earlier. The building close to the street
on the right is a traditional neighborhood grocery store where the
owners lived in the apartment above. The trees shade the sidewalks
that lead to the main street only one block away. All shopping was
within five minutes walk.
URBAN BLIGHT/AUTOMOBILE SLUM
oaks were cut down and the street was widened in the 1960s. The
trees were not replanted because the Department of Transportation
(DOT) prohibits trees next to the road. The wide-open feeling of
the road led to much higher traffic speeds and contributed to the
demise of the neighborhood. Because the sidewalks were no longer
shaded from the hot Florida sun, even the one block walk to downtown
became uncomfortable for half the year. Almost all the houses on
both sides of the street in the next block were demolished and replaced
with parking and empty lots. The destruction of the trees and the
houses, the exodus to the suburbs, and the national War on Drugs
resulted in this neighborhood becoming a crime infested “Cracktown.”
The buildings on the right, abandoned by their owners, turned into
hangouts where drug dealers and prostitutes plied their trades.
The crumbling buildings were condemned and slated for destruction
when I bought them and much of the surrounding neighborhood in 2001.
a 6 year period my helpers and I renovated 30 homes and businesses
and revitalized the mixed-use core of what I now call the Garden
District. We planted palm trees next to the road and put in a traffic
calming four-way stop, but only after an exhausting year-long battle
with a county traffic engineer that finally resulted in the county
council granting a variance from the DOT guidelines. The restored
former grocery store (on the right) became my art gallery and the
museum of the neighborhood with an apartment above. I rented the
building on the right corner to a family that opened an upscale
tearoom. The artsy, pedestrian-oriented, downtown neighborhood became
home to people of various incomes and professions. Flowering crape
myrtles and native palms now line the street and shade the sidewalks.
We also gained historic designation of the neighborhood to enforce
design guidelines on new development. If we were looking at a Pedestrian
Village, the street would be hidden at the rear, and this would
be a Pedestrian Lane—a linear park.
BILLBOARDS AND LARGE SIGNS SHOULD BE BANNED:25
ya look” – That’s exactly the problem.
It makes you look at litter against your will.
Aesthetics: A billboard is litter on a stick. Billboards destroy
the visual character, and the livability of any place they are found.
This also produces a negative economic impact on tourism and the
quality of life. Billboards have already been banned in four states--Alaska,
Hawaii, Maine and Vermont—because of these facts.
Billboards have a negative effect on local economies in general.
Only a few people profit from them, and lobbying groups influence
politicians to ignore the public will.
Threat to public safety: Studies have shown that billboards add
to stress and increase accidents.
They are often used to promote the most lethal drugs in our society:
alcohol and tobacco, and are used to indoctrinate children from
an early age.
Billboards cannot be turned off. The public is force fed advertising
against their will. Like listening to ten TV stations at once, when
everyone is shouting, very little gets heard. They just become visual
noise. Tourist-Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) with basic information
about facilities and businesses available at crossroads and freeway
exits, and electronic devices that give out information are more
than adequate to direct the consumer.
Studies show a negative correlation between billboards and property
Current laws, such as those found under the Highway Beautification
Act (HBA) actually encourage visual pollution and gives public money
to billboard companies to move or remove billboards.
Trees are often cut down to make billboards more visible.
VILLAGES: A SOLUTION FOR HOMELESSNESS
cottages on a Pedestrian Lane
for the average person, our psychological needs are not being met
very well by our American cities, which are designed more for automobiles
than for people. Pedestrian Villages are for everyone, and that’s
why I have proposed them not only for higher income developments,
but also for Kisima Kaya, a proposed new town in Kenya, and as a
solution to homelessness elsewhere. All new neighborhoods and towns
should be Pedestrian Villages, for they are the best way to address
the problems that beset our cities. In the case of Pedestrian Villages
for those who are mentally disabled, in transition to or from prison,
or temporary homeless for various reasons, these villages can be
nearly car-free, thus saving on infrastructure and maintenance.
Kaya: A proposed Pedestrian Village in Kenya
separate Pedestrian Village is not the answer to low-income housing
for the working poor unless it has mixed-income housing. The movement
toward providing housing throughout a diverse community is correct
because it helps break the cycle of poverty and builds social capital.
A 2005 study showed 750,000 Americans without homes, but as many
as three million could be homeless for some period during any given
year. A Pedestrian Village that is separate from other developments
could deal with the adult homeless, and perhaps older runaways,
but it is not the answer to taking care of families with kids. The
U.S. is ranked second to last among the 21 richest countries in
child welfare. That problem could be partially addressed by insuring
that families get integrated back into society as quickly as possible.
current Band-Aid approach to homelessness doesn’t work. Recently,
a friend told me he saw a man steal a candy bar from a store, walk
outside, and then wait for the police. The officer returned the
candy bar and the man was taken to jail where he got the proverbial
“three hots and a cot.” That uneaten candy bar cost
taxpayers maybe $1,000, but we got off comparably cheap. I know
a homeless man who suffers from schizophrenia and alcoholism. Every
time he passes out, a team of police, fire, and medical personnel
takes him to the ER, followed by several days at rehabilitation.
At $10,000 per incident, plus all the other trouble and expenses
he has run up with agencies and individuals over the years, he has
cost us dearly, and we have not done him any good.
During the time I spent rebuilding the slum, I lived amidst and
employed both the homeless and the working poor—groups that
included ex-cons, substance abusers, and those with mental disabilities—I
developed great empathy for those on the fringes of society. However,
as a landlord and a family man, I also experienced anger and frustration
as I was confronted with break-ins, littering, violent crime, and
other problems from people who are pushed into these acts because
of their circumstances. Recently a neighbor of mine shot and killed
a suicidal homeless man who came at him with a knife.
latest incident finally pushed me to design Tiger Bay Village near
Daytona Beach.26 The county site is adjacent to a wide
variety of services, including a jail, a prison, and various drug
rehabilitation centers. The lakeside village, surrounded by a forest,
could have architecturally appealing housing ranging from multi-bed
barracks to Katrina Cottages. The residents could build and maintain
the village themselves, and could also tend the community garden
and orchard. There could be a labor placement service that could
provide prescreened workers to local businesses. The village could
meet the needs of the temporarily homeless and also those who, for
their own safety and the safety of others, should have some buffer
from the wider world. For much less than we spend now treating the
homeless like packs of stray dogs, we could instead enable them
to have charming homes and amenities that would be a temporary stop
for most, and a permanent solution for some.
Tiger Bay Village: A proposal Pedestrian Village for the
We pay dearly for the misery that unhappy people inflict upon themselves
and others. Most of the permanently homeless have psychiatric problems.
When their basic physical and psychological needs are not met, it
becomes impossible to properly address their psychiatric needs.
Everyone needs food, clothing, attractive shelter, meaningful work,
a sense of purpose, love, hope, empowerment, community solidarity,
and a connection with nature. Without these things, any of us would
have a hard time finding fulfillment in life.
cutbacks have driven the mentally disabled into the streets. These
people, combined with other homeless people, find themselves scorned
and resented as they shuttle among agencies and charities. Combining
existing services and charities in a neutral setting that meets
everyone’s needs would be efficient and it would solve the
thorny NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) issue.
of building mental or social institutions, the U.S. incarcerates
at a rate six times that of Canada. Building Pedestrian Villages
would attract those who would otherwise commit crimes to get out
of the weather, and can act as a halfway house for those leaving
jail or prison. A bed in the village would cost a fraction of what
a jail bed costs and it would help mold a better person. I don’t
have all the answers, and some details will have to be worked out
in real life. Nevertheless, I’m confident that if we are willing
to try this we will discover a compassionate, effective, and affordable
model for solving the homeless crisis that can work anywhere.
IMPLEMENTING NEW PEDESTRIANISM
most effective way to implement New Pedestrianism is to plan for
it, and write it into zoning and development codes as the preferred
choice of development (called PV Zoning, which stands for Pedestrian
Village Zoning). This directs all future development into this form
with great efficiency. Also through zoning, we can take the golden,
bejeweled belt of Hippolyte and turn it into a greenbelt of priceless
value to contain the urban sprawl that is devouring the rural land
around each city, and to protect some open space between Pedestrian
Villages. The public cannot afford to buy up and administer all
the land that needs to be protected. Land use must instead be done
with enlightened planning, civic design, and zoning that will direct
growth into Pedestrian Villages and protect the environment. Properly
designed greenbelt protections, also known as urban growth boundaries
(UGBs), are crucial to limiting sprawl. There are number of existing
infrastructure-related problems besetting our cities that will continue
to have profound consequences in every aspect of society, but we
have to start somewhere. With the U.S. growing by 3 million people
every year, and the world growing by 200,000 people every day, these
changes would help move us closer to that New Jerusalem. Copyright
© Michael E. Arth 2007, All Rights Reserved. All photographs,
plans, and illustrations are by Michael E. Arth.
suburb from 1950 - present
Typical lot size = 9,000 sq. ft.
House size = 1 story, 2,000 sq. ft.
Total Paving = 2,500 sq. ft.
Garage located in front
Garage unit not allowed
Porch is miniscule
with hierarchies of wide sweeping streets.
are not walkable and streets are hostile to pedestrians.
are reached by driving to a strip mall.
("Loser Cruisers"), and other forms of denigrated
public transportation, are accessible by car.
lots, big lawns, small imagination.
dominates the front of the house.
poles and wires dominate the view of the sky.
architecture, usually suitable only for being driven past
at high speed.
if any, are contiguous to the street.
formal street trees, tree planting is at the discretion
of individual owners who tend to move often from one faceless
suburb to another.
set far back from the street are usually only one story
zoning, houses segregated by price.
to build, but costly to maintain.
an inefficient, unsustainable use of resources.
Typical lot size = 4,000+ sq. ft.
House size = 2 story, 2,000 sq. ft.
Total Paving = 1,400 - 2,300 sq. ft.
Garage located in rear
Garage unit allowed (400 sq. ft.)
Porch is ample
Interconnecting streets in traditional style neighborhoods.
for garage collection, rear access, and service of buried
parking allowed in alley, parking allowed on front street.
Sidewalks protected from the street with a planting strip
and formal rows of street trees.
center and public transportation is within a quarter-mile/five
lots, more compact neighborhoods.
close to the street, with porches where homeowners can
sit and interact with strolling neighbors.
semi-transparent picket fences at front, if any.
at least two stories tall for aesthetics, efficient use
of space, and creation of a enclosing "street wall."
and landscape design connects with local climate, topography,
history and building practice.
accessed from the alley or from street with a long driveway.
unit above garage encouraged.
New Urbanism with enhanced pedestrian amenities
Typical lot size = 4,000+ sq. ft.
House size = 2 story, 2,000 sq. ft.
Total Paving = 1,200 sq. ft.
Garage located in rear
Garage unit allowed (400 sq. ft.)
Porch is ample
and Below: Canals and walkstreets in Venice, California
streets are used all over the world in growing numbers of
commercial and mixed-use areas. Pedestrian streets and pathways
are used most famously in Venice, Italy in conjunction with
canals. They are also used, along with both canals and streets,
in Venice, California (1905) and along San Antonio's River
Walk (1929). Narrow, winding pathways also run through common
areas in front of residences, such as in Radburn, NJ (1928),
and in Village Homes in Davis, CA (1978), but formal pedestrian
lanes combined with a village center using the same street
pattern has not yet been tried.
compact residential and mixed-use developments, based on the
principles of New Urbanism, now make Pedestrian Lanes and
Pedestrian Villages, a simple, practical solution to various
automobile-related problems. The plan replaces the rear alley
with a traditional street and creates a tree-lined, formal
pedestrian and bike lane in front where motor vehicles would
be prohibited. This arrangement effectively relegates vehicles
to the back street where they belong, while still accommodating
them as well as in a Traditional Neighborhood Development
(TND). Here are the primary benefits compared to a TND:
Reduction in paved area, compared to TNDs. Less initial
cost and maintenance.
Cars-More Savings: Reduces car usage.
Reduces annual 42,000 deaths and 5 million injuries, involving
27 million crashed vehicles. Seperates cars from pedestrians
much more effectively than suburban or traditional developments.
Fewer accidents, lower health costs, less obesity, improved
general health resulting from increased walking, biking
and lower stress.
Beautiful and charming.
trees: Formal street trees front & rear.
pollution: Less air, noise and visual pollution.
efficient: Optimizes the use of the land that is used.
Public Space: Brings a park-like public space to the
door of each home, which then connects to all other neighborhood
amenities and a village center.
Value: Increases both real property and community value.
Especially benefits children, the handicapped, and the elderly.
Children can walk everywhere, parents are freed from the
role of chauffeur.
Networks: Enhances social interconnectivity.
THE THREE TYPES OF PEDESTRIAN VILLAGES
Click images to enlarge
Pedestrian Lanes & Automobile Streets Combined
Pedestrian Lanes shown here combined with a village center,
where cars and pedestrians are provided for equally but separately.
Pedestrian Lanes are shown in dark green. This Pedestrian
Village was designed to replace the old Austin, Texas airport.
Car Free Pedestrian Villages
villages can be built where it is practical to eliminate cars
altogether. This car free village was designed in 1999 for
Two Harbors, CA, on Catalina Island.
Pedestrian Villages with Cars Hidden Below
Paseo del Mar in Santa Barbara, CA. Center: The Palm Garden,
DeLand, FL. Right: The Palm Garden showing retail promenade
level with parking hidden below. The mixed-use complex with
retail offices and residences overlooks a natural-style pool
with waterfalls and a tropical botanical garden.
photographs, drawings, and plans are by Michael E. Arth
Robert. The Greek Myths, volume 2. Middlesex, England.
Penguin Books, pp. 84-153. ISBN 01402.05096
Secrets of the Amazon. PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/case_amazon/index.html
Deiss, Joseph Jay. The Town of Hercules: A Buried Treasure
Trove. Malibu, CA: The J.Paul Getty Museum.1995 ISBN: 0-89236-222-7.
Spiro. The City Assembled: The Elements of Urban Form Through
History. Boston, Bulfinch Press, 1992, p. 286
Le Corbusier, The Radiant City. New York. Orion.1967
(originally published in 1935)
Highway & Traffic Safety Administration http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/
The CTA-International Center for Technology Assessment. The
Real Price of Gasoline, Executive Summary 1998. http://www.icta.org/doc/rpg%20execsum.pdf
Time Magazine, 18 Miles from the Capital May 21, 1965.
Village Homes website: http://www.villagehomesdavis.org/
For more information on the principles of New Urbanism can be
found at the Congress of New Urbanism website: http://www.cnu.org/
Carolann Griffith, Saving a Neighborhood. Southern Living
Magazine April 2004. (http://michaelearth.com/gard_sl_april04.htm)
The story about the Garden District and New Pedestrianism is told
in the feature length documentary, New Urban Cowboy: The Labors
of Michael E. Arth. (GoldenApplesMedia.com,
Weyrich, Paul M. The Next Conservatism: Conservative New Urbanism,
Jackobsen, Eric, Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and
the Christian Faith (Christian Practice of Everyday Life),
Grand Rapids, MI, Brazos Press, 2003, ISBN 978-1-58-743-057-2
Bess, Philip, Till We Have Build Jerusalem: Architecture,
Urbanism, and the Sacred. ISI Books, December 20, 2006, Chapter
Kunstler, John Howard, The Geography of Nowhere. New
York. Touchstone, 1994. p.79
In a speech to the Florida AIA in Orlando in 1998.
Andres, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck, Suburban
Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream,
New York, North Point Press, 2000.
more information about billboards go to: http://www.scenic.org/billboards
Arth, Michael E. Pedestrian Villages: A National Solution
to Homelessness that Begins Here. Orlando Sentinel. 1/20/2007