Monday Linkages

Some articles that are worth your time:

First, something I’m keenly interested in: how will driverless cars impact urban form?  Nobody knows.  And if somebody claims to 100% know, they are full of it.  But it is worth thinking about and preparing for.  This new technology has the capacity to be a heaven or hell for city life and the article explores the utopian and dystopian visions.  It will probably be somewhere in between, but how driverless tech impacts your city will likely veer closer to one side or the other depending upon whether your city is designed for people or cars.

Luís Bettencourt, a professor of complex systems at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, who was not involved with the study, thinks a dystopian outcome is more likely. “I think the expectation is they would tend to make cities bigger and less dense,” he says. Bettencourt, whose research focuses on cities and urbanization, cites Marchetti’s constant. Named for the Venetian physicist who devised it, Marchetti’s constant states that throughout history, no matter where people lived or what form of transportation they used to get about, they have always spent and will continue to spend an average of 30 minutes each way getting to and from work. Autonomous vehicles could speed up commutes, allowing people to live farther apart, Bettencourt says.

Whatever safety benefits driverless technology has, it still hasn’t figured out the underlying problem of how to pay for and maintain sprawling car-dependent infrastructure.  Until that is solved (by compact, pedestrian-scaled development), whether cars are driverless or not is irrelevant.

Next, Atlanta has realized they cannot out suburb the suburbs as they work on completely overhauling their antiquated zoning code and make it much more digestible for the average person to understand.  Every city needs to come to the same realization.  This article shows that Atlanta planners really know what they’re doing.

The alternative, he argues, should do just the opposite: don’t force developers to design for parking garages or surface parking lots at all. Instead, force drivers to fit cars where they can. Likewise, he said, the plan should not try to directly decrease traffic; rather, it should break residents of the expectation that they should drive everywhere they want to go.

“We cannot make your commute take less time,” Keane said. “What we can help with is enabling development that allows more and more people not to drive.”

“Atlanta cannot be a better suburb than the suburbs,” he said. “If your lifestyle equation is based on driving, we can’t do it better than Fulton County. But we can be a better city.”

Interesting story about how Amsterdam redeveloped an old industrial site from the bottom up.

Buiksloterham’s evolution has brought the neighborhood to an ironic turning point. The city’s hands-off approach up to now is part of what allowed this area to flourish organically from the grassroots. Now that market forces are coming into play, however, there are increasing calls for the municipality to take a more active role in setting clear policies.  As Van Odijk says, “It’s good that they leave room for initiative, but you need a clear set of guidelines.” – See more at: