Travel diary: New Urbanist town centres

The last few weeks I’ve been on holiday in California, visiting friends and family up and down the length of the state. As always, I’ve been surprised at how familiar – and how different – the state seems. In some ways, it’s ahead of New Zealand. In others, it’s behind. And in many more, it’s simply off on a quite different path of development. One thing I noticed was the surprising ubiquity of New Urbanist town centre upgrades. Cities and towns up and down the state are upgrading sidewalks, adding sharrows (or even painted bike lanes), installing planter boxes and parklets, and doing up historic buildings in old downtown areas. …
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Read This: Happy City

Canadian journalist Charles Montgomery’s Happy City is an attempt to understand the various forces at work in our built environments through one over-riding idea. And what a great and important idea it is: Happiness. After all isn’t that really the ultimate aim of all effort around urban change; the pursuit of greater Happiness for all? In many ways the book can be seen as a extension of previous work that have all been trending in this direction by like Ed Glaeser’s analysis of the economics of cities in Triumph of the City, David Owen’s slamdunk on urban sustainability in Green Metropolis, and Walkable City, where Jeff Speck showed that in the …
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Thoughts from “How Cities Work: suburbs, sprawl and the roads not taken”

There have been so many excellent books about transport and planning come out in recent times: perhaps with Straphanger and Human Transit the two most exciting books for 2012 in that respect (at least in my opinion). But the book I’ve been reading recently is a little older, first published in 2000 – called “How Cities Work: suburbs, sprawl and the roads not taken” by Alex Marshall. I’m rubbish at doing book reviews, so I’m not going to try. Instead there are a few really good passages in this book which give us a hint of its flavour – a flavour that I like. One of the really interesting elements of …
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