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The New Urbanism: Design Principles for Vibrant Communities

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Much of the development that has occurred in Wisconsin and around the nation over the past 60 years has created a feeling of sameness from community to community.  Our development pattern has separated uses from one another and catered to cars at the expense of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit.  The New Urbanism promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant mixed-use communities built with integrated housing, employment, shops, and schools.  It is a revival of the lost art of "placemaking" to raise our quality of life and standard of living by creating neighborhoods, not just subdivisions, and building main streets, not just shopping malls. 

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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The New Urbanism: Design Principles for Vibrant Communities

  1. 1. The New Urbanism Design Principles for Vibrant Communities Wisconsin Transportation Conference September 29, 2014 Ben Zellers, AICP, CNU-A
  2. 2. The New Urbanism • Look towards successful past design to inform new development patterns. Cars Live Here People Live Here
  3. 3. The New Urbanism • Look towards successful past design to inform new development patterns.
  4. 4. The New Urbanism • Look towards successful past design to inform new development patterns.
  5. 5. The Transect From http://www.transect.org
  6. 6. The Transect From http://www.transect.org
  7. 7. The Charter of The New Urbanism • http://www.cnu.org/charter • 27 planning, design, and development principles broken down in to 3 categories: – The region: Metropolis, city, and town – The neighborhood, the district, and the corridor – The block, the street, and the building
  8. 8. The Region • Development patterns should not blur or eradicate the edges of the metropolis.
  9. 9. The Region • Direct investment to smart growth priority areas.
  10. 10. The Region • Most codes outlaw construction of compact, diverse, walkable cities and villages. • Make good design legal. – Too many downtowns are illegal. – Requiring over provision of parking. – Zoning doesn’t match pre-existing lot/site conditions. – Minimum lot size too big. – Jumping through hoops for mixed-use development.
  11. 11. The Region • Reject road planning and projections that ignore induced traffic. • Induced traffic = new road capacity absorbed by drivers who previously avoided congested roads. • “Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening a belt.”
  12. 12. The Region • Beltline in Madison/Monona “Old” Beltline: 4 lanes; 45 mph speed limit; many curb cuts; stoplights “New” Beltline – opened in 1988: 6 lanes; 55 mph speed limit; freeway; free-flow interchange with I-39/90
  13. 13. The Region 125,000 115,000 105,000 95,000 85,000 75,000 65,000 55,000 45,000 35,000 1988: 6-lane bypass opens 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 Data from WisDOT; CARPC 54,685 69,850 111,000 78,890 1984: EIS 44,700 54,500 27% 41%
  14. 14. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Plan in increments of complete neighborhoods. • Neighborhoods should be compact, pedestrian-friendly, and mixed-use. • Many activities of daily living should occur within walking distance to allow independence for those who do not drive, especially the elderly and young. • Retain & protect major natural features; have a variety of public places.
  15. 15. The five-minute walk Park
  16. 16. School The five-minute walk Park Wetlands & Park Preserve School Senior Housing Grocery, Bank, Etc. View Preserved for Public
  17. 17. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • An interconnected network of streets with small block sizes should be designed to encourage walking, reduce the number and length of automobile trips, and conserve energy.
  18. 18. 4,140’ (~3/4 mi) 450’ (~2/25 mi)
  19. 19. 7 miles!
  20. 20. Neighborhood, District, Corridor From http://www.charlotteobserver.com Annualized per-capita life cycle costs
  21. 21. From http://www.charlotteobserver.com
  22. 22. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Fire safety vs. life safety. – Fire departments love wide streets – they feel it allows them to handle fires better. – Wide streets cause speeding, no matter the posted speed limit. – Speeding causes more severe driver and pedestrian injuries and increases fatalities from crashes. • Best to have narrower streets that connect.
  23. 23. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Have a broad range of housing types and price levels in a neighborhood.
  24. 24. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Concentrations of civic, institutional, and commercial activity should be embedded in neighborhoods and districts, not isolated in remote, single-use complexes. Schools should be sized and located to enable children to walk or bicycle to them.
  25. 25. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • The downtown Hotel Office Retail Post Office City Hall Library Senior Center Fire Dept. EMS Church Church Brewery Housing Housing Bank Farmer’s Market (summer)
  26. 26. Village Village High School 1.4 miles 1.7 miles No sidewalks or trails . . . Pupil Transportation Budget: $633,000 1969: 41 percent of children either walked or biked to school 2001: 13 percent
  27. 27. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Economic health and harmonious evolution of neighborhoods, districts, and corridors can be improved through graphic urban design codes that serve as predictable guides for change. • Consider form-based zoning, especially for mixed-use areas like downtowns.
  28. 28. • Better to show people what you do want than tell them what you don’t want.
  29. 29. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Sidewalks are not the only ingredient for making a place walkable. Pedestrian routes must be: – Useful – aspects of daily life located close at hand. – Interesting – sidewalk lined with unique buildings – Comfortable – buildings create “outdoor living rooms” – Safe – peds have a fighting chance against autos. From: The Walkable City, by Jeff Speck
  30. 30. Block, Street, Building • Development must adequately accommodate automobiles; it should do so in ways that respect the pedestrian and the form of public space. • Streets should be safe for all modes of transport. – Autos travel at the speed the street is designed for, not at the posted speed limit. – Pedestrian fatalities at speeds of 36-45 mph are 22 TIMES HIGHER than when cars are at ≤20mph.
  31. 31. 3280 Feet 315 Feet
  32. 32. Block, Street, and Building • Georgia pedestrian charged with vehicular homicide in the death of her 4-year old son because they were j-walking when hit by a drunk driver who left the scene. • Crossed street at bus stop instead of walking 2/3 mi to cross at a crosswalk. • Could have done more prison time than the driver.
  33. 33. Kudos on the sidewalks and crosswalks, but . . . High School
  34. 34. NO! On street parking: essential for businesses. Well-managed street parking can generate tens of thousands of retail sales per stall; ideal to manage parking to maintain 15% stall vacancy.
  35. 35. Block, Street, Building • Do everything you can to preserve your historic buildings – that’s what makes your community unique.
  36. 36. Downtown block area: 1.7 acres Assessed value: $3.87 million Value per acre: $2.3 million Big box parcel area: 5.8 acres Assessed value: $2.1 million Value per acre: $362,000 More than 6 times as valuable per acre! Newer! Even when compared to a brand new big box store with freeway access in a bigger city, the downtown block at right is more than 2x as valuable per acre.
  37. 37. Block, Street, Building • A primary task of all urban architecture and landscape design is the physical definition of streets and public spaces as places of shared use. • The revitalization of urban places depends on safety and security. The design of streets and buildings should reinforce safe environments, but not at the expense of accessibility and openness.
  38. 38. (before)
  39. 39. Raingarden terrace LED Streetlights Pervious pavers Terrace trees Benches & trash receptacles Bike racks Building sun shades; many windows facing street (after)
  40. 40. • Surface parking • Very little greenspace • Green roof • Solar panels • Increased greenspace
  41. 41. Block, Street, Building • Don’t be afraid to require good design.
  42. 42. Block, Street, Building • Allow alleys. Alleys: – Prevent garages from dominating the streetscape. – Reduce pedestrian/bike conflicts with cars by reducing driveways & curb cuts. – Provide a place for transformers, meters, communications boxes, trash pickup, etc. – Allow for narrower lots (more lots can be served by less infrastructure = higher property values per acre = more value & less expense).
  43. 43. Transit vs. Poor Urban Design
  44. 44. Bus Stop
  45. 45. You need to drive if you want to work here.
  46. 46. Bus Stop
  47. 47. Why it matters . . . • VMT • Drivers’ licenses • Public health
  48. 48. Source: FHWA and US Census Bureau
  49. 49. Wisconsin: -12.1% VMT Source: http://uspirg.org/reports/usp/moving-road
  50. 50. 67% ~80% Source: FHWA, US Census Bureau, Streetsblog.
  51. 51. Percent Change in Population by Age Group, 2010-2040 160.0% 140.0% 120.0% 100.0% 80.0% 60.0% 40.0% 20.0% 0.0% Outagame, Calumet, Winnebago Counties <20 20-39 40-59 60-79 80+ Percent Change Age Group Source: WI DOA
  52. 52. Obesity Trends* Among U.S. Adults: 1985 No Data <10% 10%–14% (*BMI ≥30, or ~ 30 lbs. overweight for 5’ 4” person)
  53. 53. Obesity Trends* Among U.S. Adults: 1990 No Data <10% 10%–14% (*BMI ≥30, or ~ 30 lbs. overweight for 5’ 4” person)
  54. 54. Obesity Trends* Among U.S. Adults: 1995 No Data <10% 10%–14% 15%–19% (*BMI ≥30, or ~ 30 lbs. overweight for 5’ 4” person)
  55. 55. Obesity Trends* Among U.S. Adults: 2000 No Data <10% 10%–14% 15%–19% ≥20% (*BMI ≥30, or ~ 30 lbs. overweight for 5’ 4” person)
  56. 56. Obesity Trends* Among U.S. Adults: 2005 No Data <10% 10%–14% 15%–19% 20%–24% 25%–29% ≥30% (*BMI ≥30, or ~ 30 lbs. overweight for 5’ 4” person)
  57. 57. Obesity Trends* Among U.S. Adults: 2010 No Data <10% 10%–14% 15%–19% 20%–24% 25%–29% ≥30% (*BMI ≥30, or ~ 30 lbs. overweight for 5’ 4” person)
  58. 58. Conclusion • Good design should be, at a minimum, allowed; hopefully encouraged; ideally required. • Many zoning practices from the 1950s and 60s, which remain in place today, mandate bad design. • Bad zoning and other bad government regulations have led to many of the problems communities are facing today.
  59. 59. Conclusion • Good urban design, a solid transit system, and sound planning are matters of public health. • Market has responded to government regulations and provided vast tracts of isolated large-lot single-family homes and strip malls; we need to make “traditional” neighborhoods legal again and give people a choice in where they can live and how they move around our cities.
  60. 60. Resources • Book: Suburban Nation, Duany, Plater-Zyberk, and Speck • Websites & blogs: – www.cnu.org (interdisciplinary organization – become a member!) – www.strongtowns.org – switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield – www.theatlantic.com/the-atlantic-cities – www.planetizen.com
  61. 61. Questions? Ben Zellers, AICP, CNU-A Vierbicher 999 Fourier Drive, #201 Madison, WI 53717 bzel@vierbicher.com (608) 821-3967

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