pedestrian infrastructure

The number of people a 3.5 meter wide lane can convey in an hour, by transport mode.

We’ve inherited a lot of inefficient, car-centric places from previous decades, but we don’t have to keep building that way. In Atlanta, with the Beltline and MARTA’s TOD projects and more, there’s new interest in building places that are centered around other transportation modes.

anonymous asked:

hi smile! I read World Ain't Ready when it was still a WIP even though i Never Do That. The best decision of my life. Now it is the only thing saved on my phone for reading when there's no internet. So today I was re-reading it again and - why all the rides? Are american suburbs actually that hellish, how far is too far to walk for people aged 15-18? Like, even a 40-minute walk is faster and better than waiting for an hour to get a ride. i am v confused. Do americans not walk?

hey! thanks!

ok so uh in defense of suburban American teens (a phrase i never thought i would have occasion to use back when i was a suburban American teen but you can just never tell where life will take you), it’s hard to overstate how non-walkable most American suburbs are. 

1. stuff can be really, really far apart. in the subdivision where i grew up, i could walk to one friend’s house or to the community pool; literally anything else was at least fifteen minutes by car. in middle school my best friend lived 25 miles away.

2. suburban (at least suburban American) living is, in all aspects, designed with the assumption you have a car. some stuff is maybe bikeable, but if you’re leaving the subdivision where you live, like if you need to get from one side of town to the other, there are not going to be bike lanes or sidewalks. there are not going to be pedestrian crossings. cars will likely not stop for you. (if you’re on a bike you have to be real careful; American drivers are notoriously not accommodating to cyclists.) if you’re on foot, you will be slinking alongside highways and busy roads. you will be walking, for long stretches, past nothing but empty cornfields. (and it will be corn. maybe soy.)

3. if you get lost (the story takes place before gps), you are just stranded out there. there’s no public transit and who are you gonna ask for directions, the corn? the residents of the closest subdivision, who a) could be pretty damn far away by foot and b) are likely gonna be confused/not home/hostile if a stranger shows up and knocks on the door?

4. there’s a socialization aspect as well: who is this teenager skulking by the side of the road? just what are they up to? don’t they know they’re outside private property? also: because of all the open space, the lack of any infrastructure for pedestrians, the lack of public transit and the difficulty navigating (and also a generous dash of suburban paranoia), kids are generally discouraged from being out alone, especially after dark. 

living in chicago, it still surprises me to see twelve-year-olds taking the train on their own, or buying a snack unaccompanied by an adult. American city kids—and i think, to a lesser extent, American small town kids—are granted a lot more independence and freedom.

most suburban parents probably wouldn’t let, say, a kid gavroche’s age walk forty minutes across town. gavroche’s parents would, but that is of course a symptom of a much larger problem.

tl;dr American suburbs are in fact, that hellish!

Public Service Announcement

If you walk west on Alabama Street from Five Points Station, planning to use this walkway to get to CNN or Phillips Arena… and you walk up these stairs… you’ll find yourself looking at this fence… which was put up about two years ago, after the top of a truck hit the underside of the walkway… resulting in these two chunks of concrete being knocked loose and the walkway being declared unsafe to use. To get over to CNN/Phillips, you have to take Forsyth Street to MLK, turn right and take MLK to Spring Street, turn right on Spring Street and keep going until you get to the row of blue awnings that leads across the top level of the CNN parking deck. Of course, in the time it takes to do all that you could’ve caught a westbound train and ridden the one stop to the cumbersomely named Dome/GWCC/Philips/CNN Station. At least every 48 hours for the past two years, I’ve watched annoyed, bewildered people descending those stairs, with no idea how they’re supposed get to the other side of Spring Street. Whoever owns that property apparently can neither be bothered to get the walkway repaired nor to put a sign at the bottom of the stairs indicating that it’s blocked.