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Video: Cities in the Balance

Thanks to @ByTheMotorway for highlighting this video from the 1995 that was produced by the Federal Highway Administration in the US. They describe it as

Cities in the Balance: Creating the Transit- Friendly Environment
Contrasting modern suburban development with older, urban neighborhoods, this video depicts the relationship between transit and land use, and illustrates land use mitigations to make transit an attractive alternative to the automobile. Neo-traditional planning, transit- oriented design, and modest retrofits of existing suburbs are shown. The main thesis of the video is that our dependence on the automobile is the direct result of how we build our cities.

Watching this it is really frustrating to see just how even almost 20 years ago it was clear that the urban patterns of the previous 40 years were not ideal yet still today we keep building the same stuff.

8 comments to Video: Cities in the Balance

  • Bryce P

    What a fantastic video. Thanks Matt.

  • Great to see it shared here too. :)

    The ideas represented in the video are so old you’d think it would be an easier sell with the orthodoxy. There is very little revolutionary, risky or untested about creating people-friendly cities. Alas.

  • Bryce P

    I think you’re familiar with this Matt but for a local example of how the town design can affect PT use, have a look at the Sturges Road train station. Pretty much the only way to get to it is by….car.

  • OrangeKiwi

    The Laguna West example from the video ended up looking anything but what was envisioned: http://goo.gl/maps/Iw8Ff A lack of walkable connections and horribly wide traffic sewers you have to cross to get to the shops, actually shopping malls with ample parking that are mostly located at the very edges away from people’s homes while the area around the civic centre (the intended ‘hub’) looks to be either residential or undeveloped… Fail. Does anyone know of examples of truly succesful TODs in the US or Canada? I’d like to take a closer look at them – this is interesting stuff.

  • OrangeKiwi

    … Upon closer inspection: they look to be traffic sewers in the sense of quality not quantity (disproportionately high supply of road space – you’ll reap what you sow then) and I may have mistaken a big company at the northern edge for a shopping mall – but I still think it’s a fail nonetheless. First thing noticed while street viewing around the residential areas: the number of roadside garages. Funny that.

    • You’re right, Laguna West is a lesson in location and the value of public transit for urban life. In the book ‘Human Transit’, Jarrett Walker uses it as an example of a greenfields development that fails to ‘be on the way’ of existing transit lines, and so becomes car-dependent.

      This applies to the large scale of situating a town on a map, down to the small scale of a bus stop, cycle or foot path. Our transport priorities are etched in the concrete reality of where in space we consign our infrastructure and its users — regardless of what we say we value, or sincerely intend when we do it (as it was at Laguna West).

  • Geoff Houtman

    Wow.

    Thanks Matt, probably the single best video I’ve ever seen on here! So much good stuff in such a short space of time…

    Highlights-
    1- “Neo-traditional planning” it’s pretty much what Urbanists are on about now right?

    2- Seaside, Fl. sounds interesting- will check to see if it was a success.

    3- Uneven bricks on the road surface that make it uncomfortable in fast-travelling cars? Bring it on!

    4- Monuments at intersections. For some reason Auckland hates this idea. If you’ve ever been to Invercargill you’ll see how simple, interesting, and useful this idea is.

    Great video. And I didn’t even say TRAMS!!!!!!

    Happy New Year all…

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