Walkable Urbanism – Principles

  • October 24, 2015

Walkable community

The underlying principles of walkable urbanism are these:

1. The basic building block of a community is the neighborhood. A neighborhood standing alone can be a village or a small town. A cluster of neighborhoods forms a bigger town. Clusters of many neighborhoods make up a city.

2. The neighborhood is limited in physical size, with a well-defined edge and a center. The size of a neighborhood is usually based on the distance that a person can walk in five minutes from the center to the edge — a quarter-mile. Neighborhoods have a fine-grained mix of land uses, providing opportunities for young and old to find places to live, work, shop, and be entertained.

3. Corridors form the boundaries between neighborhoods — both connecting and defining the neighborhoods. Corridors can incorporate natural features such as streams or canyons. They may take the form of parks, natural preserves, travel paths, railroad lines, or a combination of all these. In towns and cities, a sector can form a district. Districts consist of streets or areas containing special activities, which get preferential treatment. A corridor may also be a district — as when a major shopping avenue runs between adjoining neighborhoods.
4. Human-scale sets the standard for proportion in buildings. Buildings must be disciplined in how they relate to their lots if public space is to be successfully demarcated. Because the street is the preeminent form of public space, buildings are generally expected to honor and embellish the street. Buildings also define parks and squares, which are distributed throughout the neighborhood and are designed to be appropriate for rest, recreation, or special events.

5. Treating a range of transportation options as important is fundamental. For most of the second half of the 20th Century, transportation agencies have focused almost exclusively on optimizing the convenience of automobile travel, and have dealt with transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists as little more than afterthoughts. We must give equal consideration to all modes of transportation to relieve congestion and to provide people with realistic choices.

6. The street pattern is conceived as a network, to create the greatest number of alternative routes from one part of the neighborhood to another. This has the effect of providing choices and relieving vehicular congestion. The streets form a hierarchy, from broad boulevards to narrow lanes and alleys.

7. Civic buildings (town halls, churches, schools, libraries, museums) belong on preferred sites such as squares or neighborhood centers, or where the view down a street terminates. Such placement helps turn civic buildings into landmarks and reinforces their symbolic and cultural importance.

Leave a reply

Fields marked with * are required