Atlas of Cities
The Atlas of Cities presents a unique taxonomy of cities that looks at different aspects of their physical, economic, social, and political structures; their interactions with each other and with their hinterlands; the challenges and opportunities they present; and where cities might be going in the future.
Edited by Paul Knox, with foreword by Richard Florida.
A Pattern Language
After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure are now publishing a major statement in the form of three books which will, in their words, lay the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture, building and planning, which will we
hope replace existing ideas and practices entirely.
The three books are The Timeless Way of Building, The Oregon Experiment, and this book, A Pattern Language. At the core of these books is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets, and communities. This idea may be radical (it implies a radical transformation of the architectural profession) but it comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people.
The Well-Tempered City
In The Well-Tempered City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—the man who “repairs the fabric of cities”—distills a lifetime of interdisciplinary research and firsthand experience into a five-pronged model for how to design and reshape our cities with the goal of equalizing their landscape of opportunity. Drawing from the musical concept of “temperament” as a way to achieve harmony, Rose argues that well-tempered cities can be infused with systems that bend the arc of their development toward equality, resilience, adaptability, well-being, and the ever-unfolding harmony between civilization and nature. These goals may never be fully achieved, but our cities will be richer and happier if we aspire to them, and if we infuse our every plan and constructive step with this intention.
Autonomous Vehicles & the Good City
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) have the potential to be either a boon or a burden to our cities. Walkable City author Jeff Speck lays out rules intended to ease the pain and increase the pleasure of the eventual AV proliferation.
Watch this talk on YouTube.
4 ways to make a city more walkable
Freedom from cars, freedom from sprawl, freedom to walk your city! City planner Jeff Speck shares his “general theory of walkability” — four planning principles to transform sprawling cities of six-lane highways and 600-foot blocks into safe, walkable oases full of bike lanes and tree-lined streets.
Watch this TED talk on YouTube.
Providence Streets Coalition
The Providence Streets Coalition is an alliance of community organizations, local businesses, schools, institutions, civic leaders, and engaged individuals advocating for people-friendly streets in Providence. We support providing more transportation options to improve safety, equity, sustainability, prosperity, health, and quality-of-life in our city and region.
In Velotopia: The Production of Cyclespace in Our Minds and Our Cities, architectural theorist and historian Steven Fleming, a leading international figure in bicycle urbanism and author of the bestselling Cycle Space (2013), argues that the best-connected cities in the future will be those that put cycling before walking and public transport. According to Fleming, cities organized around cycling will be greener and healthier, but also fairer and more accessible than today’s cities–more productive, comfortable, social and fun. In this volume, Fleming dares readers to think big, to radically reimagine cities and city life around movement on two wheels.
In Cycle Space, architecture professor and cycling enthusiast Steven Fleming (or Dr. Behooving, as he is known to those who follow his blog, Behooving Moving) suggests new ways of designing better cities, thereby reducing emissions, commute times, ill health and sprawl in the process. Not only can architecture and urban design begin to optimize conditions for cycling; they can also take inspiration from the aesthetics and ethics of cycling as well. Fleming argues that understanding why more and more people are choosing bikes is key for discovering the full potential of the bicycle as a transformative force in the design of our cities. Cycle Space is a must-read for anyone interested in the nexus of architecture, cycling and urban design.
Design of Cities
In Design of Cities, Edmund N. Bacon relates historical examples to modern principles of urban planning. He vividly demonstrates how the work of great architects and planners of the past can influence subsequent development and be continued by later generations. By illuminating the historical background of urban design, Bacon also shows us the fundamental forces and considerations that determine the form of a great city. Perhaps the most significant of these are simultaneous movement systems—the paths of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, public and private transportation—that serve as the dominant organizing force, and Bacon looks at movement systems in cities such as London, Rome, and New York. He also stresses the importance of designing open space as well as architectural mass and discusses the impact of space, color, and perspective on the city-dweller. That the centers of cities should and can be pleasant places in which to live, work, and relax is illustrated by such examples as Rotterdam and Stockholm.
Bicycle Culture by Design
Mikael Colville-Andersen is an urban mobility expert and CEO for Copenhagenize Consulting. He is often called Denmark’s Bicycle Ambassador but he has learned the hard way that this title is a dismal pick-up line in bars. Colville-Andersen and his team advise cities and towns around the world regarding bicycle planning, infrastructure and communication strategies. He applies his marketing expertise to campaigns that focus on selling bicycle culture and bicycle transport to a mainstream audience as opposed to the existing cycling sub-cultures in particular with his famous Cycle Chic brand. Colville-Andersen gives talks around the world about bicycle culture, design and social media.
Watch this TEDx talk on YouTube.
Why we shouldn’t bike with a helmet
Mikael Colville-Andersen talks about how important the bicycle is for liveable cities and how bicycle helmets are threatening bicycle culture.
Watch this TEDx talk on YouTube.
In Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving, technology historian Peter Norton argues that driverless cars cannot be the safe, sustainable, and inclusive “mobility solutions” that tech companies and automakers are promising us. The salesmanship behind the driverless future is distracting us from investing in better ways to get around that we can implement now. Unlike autonomous vehicles, these alternatives are inexpensive, safe, sustainable, and inclusive.
A globe-trotting, eye-opening exploration of how cities can—and do—make us happier people Charles Montgomery’s Charles Montgomery’s Happy City is revolutionizing the way we think about urban life.
After decades of unchecked sprawl, more people than ever are moving back to the city. Dense urban living has been prescribed as a panacea for the environmental and resource crises of our time. But is it better or worse for our happiness? Are subways, sidewalks, and condo towers an improvement on the car dependence of the suburbs?
The award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery finds answers to such questions at the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness, during an exhilarating journey through some of the world’s most dynamic cities. He meets the visionary mayor who introduced a “sexy” bus to ease status anxiety in Bogotá; the architect who brought the lessons of medieval Tuscan hill towns to modern-day New York City; the activist who turned Paris’s urban freeways into beaches; and an army of American suburbanites who have hacked the design of their own streets and neighborhoods.
Rich with new insights from psychology, neuroscience, and Montgomery’s own urban experiments, Happy City reveals how cities can shape our thoughts as well as our behavior. The message is ultimately as surprising as it is hopeful: by retrofitting cities and our own lives for happiness, we can tackle the urgent challenges of our age. The happy city can save the world—and we can all help build it.
Asphalt Nation is a powerful examination of how the automobile has ravaged America’s cities and landscape over the past 100 years together with a compelling strategy for reversing our automobile dependency. Jane Holtz Kay provides a history of the rapid spread of the automobile and documents the huge subsidies commanded by the highway lobby, to the detriment of once-efficient forms of mass transportation. Demonstrating that there are economic, political, architectural, and personal solutions to the problem, she shows that radical change is entirely possible. This book is essential reading for everyone interested in the history of our relationship with the car, and in the prospect of returning to a world of human mobility.
Public transit is a powerful tool for addressing a huge range of urban problems, including traffic congestion and economic development as well as climate change. But while many people support transit in the abstract, it’s often hard to channel that support into good transit investments. Part of the problem is that transit debates attract many kinds of experts, who often talk past each other. Ordinary people listen to a little of this and decide that transit is impossible to figure out. Jarrett Walker believes that transit can be simple, if we focus first on the underlying geometry that all transit technologies share. In Human Transit, Walker supplies the basic tools, the critical questions, and the means to make smarter decisions about designing and implementing transit services. Human Transit explains the fundamental geometry of transit that shapes successful systems; the process for fitting technology to a particular community; and the local choices that lead to transit-friendly development. Whether you are in the field or simply a concerned citizen, here is an accessible guide to achieving successful public transit that will enrich any community.
The High Cost of Free Parking
In The High Cost of Free Parking, Donald Shoup argues that free parking has contributed to auto dependence, rapid urban sprawl, extravagant energy use, and a host of other problems. Planners mandate free parking to alleviate congestion but end up distorting transportation choices, debasing urban design, damaging the economy, and degrading the environment. Ubiquitous free parking helps explain why our cities sprawl on a scale fit more for cars than for people, and why American motor vehicles now consume one-eighth of the world’s total oil production. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Shoup proposes new ways for cities to regulate parking – namely, charge fair market prices for curb parking, use the resulting revenue to pay for services in the neighborhoods that generate it, and remove zoning requirements for off-street parking. Such measures, according to the Yale-trained economist and UCLA planning professor, will make parking easier and driving less necessary.
Making Transit Fun!
Why do people in Stockholm prefer to take the stairs over the escalator? Why do Londoners enjoy hanging out at bus stops? How do carmakers convince us to buy gas-guzzling, environmentally damaging, and wallet-draining machines? It’s called the fun theory. What Darrin Nordahl illustrates in this delightful book is that transit can be just as inviting, exciting, and even seductive as the automobile, if designed with the passenger experience in mind.
In Making Transit Fun!, Nordahl shows that with the help of architects, urban designers, graphic artists, industrial engineers, marketing experts-and even fashion designers-we can lure people out of their automobiles and toward healthier, more sustainable methods of transportation.
This accessible E-ssential focuses on the possibilities for making public transit, cycling, and walking more appealing to the motorist. In each section, Nordahl demonstrates how the transit stigma can be overcome with innovative design. From the aesthetics of buses to segregated bike lanes and pedestrian-priority streets, Nordahl showcases examples from around the world that excite the heart and bring an easy smile.
The Boulevard Book
First built in Europe and grandly imported to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, the classic multiway boulevard has been in decline for many years, victim of a narrowly focused approach to street design that views unencumbered vehicular traffic flow as the highest priority. The American preoccupation with destination and speed has made multiway boulevards increasingly rare as artifacts of the urban landscape. This book reintroduces the boulevard, tree-lined and with separate realms for through traffic and for slow-paced vehicular-pedestrian movement, as an important and often crucial feature of both historic and contemporary cities. It presents more than fifty boulevards—as varied as Avenue Montaigne, in Paris; C. G. Road, in Ahmedabad, India; and The Esplanade, in Chico, California—celebrating their usefulness and beauty. It discusses their history and evolution, the misconceptions that led to their near-demise in the United States, and their potential as a modern street type.
Based on wide research, The Boulevard Book examines the safety of these streets and offers design guidelines for professionals, scholars, and community decision makers. Extensive plans, cross sections, and perspective drawings permit visual comparisons. The book shows how multiway boulevards respond to many issues that are central to urban life, including livability, mobility, safety, interest, economic opportunity, mass transit, and open space.
Written by Allan B. Jacobs, Elizabeth McDonald, and Yodan Rofe.
In a world of increasing traffic congestion, a grassroots movement is carving out a niche for bicycles on city streets. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities explores the growing bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities, suburbs, and small towns across North America. From traffic-dodging bike messengers to tattooed teenagers on battered bikes, from riders in spandex to well-dressed executives, ordinary citizens are becoming transportation revolutionaries. Jeff Mapes traces the growth of bicycle advocacy and explores the environmental, safety, and health aspects of bicycling. He rides with bicycle advocates who are taming the streets of New York City, joins the street circus that is Critical Mass in San Francisco, and gets inspired by the everyday folk pedaling in Amsterdam, the nirvana of American bike activists. Chapters focused on big cities, college towns, and America’s most successful bike city, Portland, show how cyclists, with the encouragement of local officials, are claiming a share of the valuable streetscape.
Walkable City Rules
Nearly every US city would like to be more walkable—for reasons of health, wealth, and the environment—yet few are taking the proper steps to get there. The goals are often clear, but the path is seldom easy. Jeff Speck’s follow-up to his bestselling Walkable City is the resource that cities and citizens need to usher in an era of renewed street life. Walkable City Rules is a doer’s guide to making change in cities, and making it now.
Most Americans think of crowded cities as ecological nightmares, as wastelands of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. Yet residents of compact urban centers, Owen shows, individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than other Americans. They live in smaller spaces, discard less trash, and, most important of all, spend far less time in automobiles.
Trains, Buses, People
In Trains, Buses, People, transit expert and “transportation hero” Christof Spieler provides a new section on inclusivity to help agencies understand how to welcome riders regardless of race, gender, income, or disability.
Curbed is an American real estate and urban design website founded as a blog by Lockhart Steele in 2006. The full website, founded in 2010, featured sub-pages dedicated to specific real estate markets and metropolitan areas across the United States.
Planetizen is a planning-related news website owned by Urban Insight of Los Angeles, California. It features user-submitted and editor-evaluated news and weekly user-contributed op-eds about urban planning and several related fields.
Building the Cycling City
In Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett share the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch cycling story, show how some of the ideas are already being adopted in global cities, and draw out concrete lessons for other places to follow their lead. Drawing from historical context, interviews with local experts, and their own experiences riding in five Dutch cities, the Bruntletts explore topics ranging from bicycle style and parking to the relationship between cycling and public transit. Special attention is given to less well-known Dutch cities, including Utrecht and Rotterdam.
In Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in Our Lives, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett chronicle their experience living in the Netherlands and the benefits that result from treating cars as visitors rather than owners of the road. They weave their personal story with research and interviews with experts and Delft locals to help readers share the experience of living in a city designed for people.
Pedestrian Observations is a blog by Alon Levy. Alon grew up in Tel Aviv and Singapore; subsequently lived in New York, Providence, Vancouver, and Stockholm; and currently lives in Paris. He writes about public transit full-time.
Confessions of a Recovering Engineer
In Confessions of a Recovering Engineer, Charles Marohn pulls back the curtain on the North American transportation system. He explains how transportation got so bad, and why it keeps getting worse. He writes about the deadly toll of bad design, why the conventional approach puts cities on the road to insolvency, and why public transit is in trouble. He also talks about how transportation can be fixed—and why fixing it will involve not just engineers, but local residents and officials who have become effective and empowered advocates, connected with others to make real change.
Oh The Urbanity!
Oh The Urbanity! traverses cities by foot, bike, and public transit and aims to make concise, informative, and entertaining videos combining streetscapes and demographic data.
The founders, Patrick and Jasmine, have a particular interest in making cities more walkable, bikeable, and all around easier and safer to get around in.
The channel is currently based in Ottawa but Patrick and Jasmine also enjoy exploring other cities across Canada as well and highlighting urbanist projects and endeavors in various locations.
No One At The Wheel
Sam Schwartz, America’s most celebrated transportation guru, describes in No One At The Wheel the revolution in self-driving cars. The ramifications will be dramatic, and the transition will be far from seamless. It will overturn the job market for the one in seven Americans who work in the trucking industry. It will cause us to grapple with new ethical dilemmas-if a car will hit a person or a building, endangering the lives of its passengers, who will decide what it does? It will further erode our privacy, since the vehicle can relay our location at any moment. And, like every other computer-controlled device, it can be vulnerable to hacking
Urbanism in a New Mobility Age
Urbanism in a New Mobility Age: Blurring the lines between architecture, public space, and movement. Samuel Shackelford’s thesis addresses the future possibilities of our cities with the introduction of autonomous and electric vehicles.
A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil (2006)
A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil is an informative, inspirational documentary aimed at sharing ideas to provoke environment-friendly and cost-effective changes in cities worldwide. The documentary focuses on innovations in transportation, recycling, social benefits including affordable housing, seasonal parks, and the processes that transformed Curitiba into one of the most livable cities in the world.
Produced by Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Aspen Institute, Bloomberg CityLab is the leading global summit for city leaders and cross-sector urban thinkers, experts, and artists to connect with each other and to create and share scalable solutions for cities’ most pressing challenges.
Pedestrian Space is a media, advocacy and research platform established in 2021 to document and explore aspects of walkability as a key dimension for sustainable urban development. The platform provides looks at both best practices as well as barriers to pedestrianization and covers issues of quality of life, health, spatial and social equity and environmental benefit of walkable communities.
The platform is also dedicated to inspiring and engaging in dialogue about the reduction of car dependence as a critical and global issue. The idea of a “culture of walkability” as manifest in several dimensions- including media depictions of walking as a form of mobility, public space that supports quality pedestrian infrastructure and connectivity and the habits, psychological and environmental factors that form our mobility choices- is also a central focus.
Streetfilms produces short films showing how smart transportation design and policy can result in better places to live, work and play.
Founded in 2006, Streetfilms has become the go-to organization for educational films about sustainable transportation, and inspires action and behavioral change worldwide. Individuals, public agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, and transportation advocacy groups use Streetfilms to educate decision makers and make change for livable streets in their communities.
Urbanized is a feature-length documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world’s foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers.
Not Just Bikes
Stories of great urban planning and urban experiences from Amsterdam and the Netherlands. It’s not just bikes. Visit channel.
City Beautiful is a YouTube channel dedicated to educating everyone about cities and city planning, particularly transportation, land use planning, and urban design.
Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. Making downtown into a walkable, viable community is the essential fix for the typical American city; it is eminently achievable and its benefits are manifold. Walkable City—bursting with sharp observations and key insights into how urban change happens—lays out a practical, necessary, and inspiring vision for how to make American cities great again.
Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution
As New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan managed the seemingly impossible and transformed the streets of one of the world’s greatest, toughest cities into dynamic spaces safe for pedestrians and bikers. Her approach was dramatic and effective: Simply painting a part of the street to make it into a plaza or bus lane not only made the street safer, but it also lessened congestion and increased foot traffic, which improved the bottom line of businesses. Real-life experience confirmed that if you know how to read the street, you can make it function better by not totally reconstructing it but by reallocating the space that’s already there.
Breaking the street into its component parts, Streetfight demonstrates, with step-by-step visuals, how to rewrite the underlying “source code” of a street, with pointers on how to add protected bike paths, improve crosswalk space, and provide visual cues to reduce speeding. Achieving such a radical overhaul wasn’t easy, and Streetfight pulls back the curtain on the battles Sadik-Khan won to make her approach work. She includes examples of how this new way to read the streets has already made its way around the world, from pocket parks in Mexico City and Los Angeles to more pedestrian-friendly streets in Auckland and Buenos Aires, and innovative bike-lane designs and plazas in Austin, Indianapolis, and San Francisco. Many are inspired by the changes taking place in New York City and are based on the same techniques. Streetfight deconstructs, reassembles, and reinvents the street, inviting readers to see it in ways they never imagined.