Saturday, March 05, 2005

Attachments A and B: Hints for Hunters

Assume you're looking for a walkaround locale, want to develop a list of good prospects to check further with calls to Chambers, ask friends living near there, visits...


--Smaller towns, villages, other small population clusters, especially if relatively isolated (inconvenient to drive elsewhere for shopping) and with physical barriers, as on an island, a mountain town, Bush Villages in Alaska (we don’t assume you’ll move there!). A special small-population case might be meditative or intentional communities, Co-housing, especially is they say “sustainable.”

--At the other population extreme, more dense clusters of people in larger cities, e.g., neighborhoods in New York City. (Enough customers in small geographic area, so neighborhood businesses can make it). Ethnic areas, when found here, might be good prospects, especially if they see themselves as minorities needing “ghetto” self-sufficiency. Note also “vertical” attempts to achieve density, e.g., Arco Santi, UMASS dorm?

--In-between, sections in some medium sized cities such as Santa Clara and Berkeley in CA, Eugene, OR and Santa Fe, NM. Not sure why except for other reasons mentioned later here…

For just about any population, regardless of size:

***older towns especially if they’ve resisted “modernization” and preserved their old downtown area (walkables often are there or cluster adjacent);

***places where people generally can’t afford to own cars because maintenance costs are prohibitive and/or people just don’t have the money. (e.g., NYC) (One reason why so many more walkables in Latin America and Europe).

***Regions and locales with strong environmental traditions such as the Northwest and Northern CA in the U.S.

***Business Districts surrounding colleges and universities, designed to serve students as customers. At least some walkable characteristics I think but generally I’d like more info and input on this...


NEGATIVE PREDICTORS - Signs that suggest you do NOT put this locale on your prospect list of walkables:

***Obvious absence of positive signs in section A preceding.

***Physical Factors that would make walking a challenge much or most of the time, ditto electric carts or bicycles. Include here characteristic/frequent temperature extremes, rain, high winds (though covered walkways or underground passages help here); higher elevations (especially if heart or lung problems); and lots of hills (though still some flatter parts of the town might be walkable).

***Lack of Pedestrian Safety, Convenience, Access. Includes lack of safe or any sidewalks, bike or car paths; heavy and/or rapid car traffic, especially if bisecting residential areas or if residential area is build around or near limited-access highway exists.

***Be careful of places where “car culture” is especially strong, as perhaps in Detroit or Los Angeles (though LA has walkables!!).

***Be careful of touristy locales, built for passing through not staying.

***Suburbs, especially if built after WWII and definitely be wary of “way out in the country,” which might be fine but is rarely walkable.

Others might include high crime rate and/or “strict” zoning, especially if it forbids mixed use zoning and/or rigidity among planners and developers; and of course, WAY-HIGH COSTS.



Think what would help you if you were looking and wanted to set up an initial list of good prospects.

I really hope to hear from you, in person if possible, otherwise by phone, email or letter. My home address is 607 Marr, Truth or Consequences, NM 87901


Blogger Nina Paul said...

Hi Ivan,
You have great information on this blog! I have succumbed and now own a vehicle. When I previously lived in England, it was much easier to live without a car. Things important for me in "living walkably" are the need for inner city/town supermarket; regular transportation to other cities/town via bus or train; and the ability of local drivers to know how to respect the rights of bicycle riders.

I am scared to cycle in many American cities because of the lack of bike lanes or drivers who don't respect the rights of bicyclists. Many American towns have abysmal public transportation, if they have any at all.

The problem in England as I recall was the building of out-of-town shopping centers.

Having a good and inexpensive taxi service is necessary to reach out of town shopping or buy large and bulky items that can't be biked or to take pet to the vet.

We in the US desperately need better public transportation to link towns and cities and promote walkability. Your blog is an excellent step in that direction!

Thank you!


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