National Links: The Perfect Intersection, Halloween Metrics, and Pedestrian Shaming

Every day at The Direct Transfer we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list.  At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the DC region.  They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Stop the shaming: The New York City DOT and the City of Pittsburgh are using flyers, guides, and even a dressed up grim reaper that talks to walkers to try to stop pedestrian deaths. The problem is that the campaigns blame potential victims, ignoring the fact that infrastructure isn’t available for walking and roads aren’t designed for safety. (Curbed)

Halloween metric botched: Trick-or-treaters tend to naturally identify the best urban design: it’s easiest and safest to trick-or-treat in places where people drive slowly, where streets are narrow, where front doors are close together and houses have stoops. But in an attempt to quantify the best places for kids to enjoy Halloween night, real estate tech company Zillow developed an index that focuses more on home values and population ages rather than good urban design. (Slate)

Oakland’s transportation turnaround: Based on policy changes the city has made in the last six weeks, you could argue that Oakland, California is at the forefront of a transportation revolution. The recently-formed transportation department has created a strategic plan, developed new parking policies, and moved traffic analysis away from a metric that just encourages more driving. The future is so bright, I swear I’ve seen the DOT employees all wearing shades. (Streetsblog California)

Just as good as St. Jane?: “Asset-based community development” is the process of creating an inventory of a neighborhood’s strengths and organizing them together towards a greater good. Outside money and expertise will not help if the neighborhood is not first organized and aware of its strengths. Arizona State professor Otis White says this kind of approach is just as important to ones proposed by Jane Jacobs. (Otis White)

The perfect intersection: If an intersection is designed correctly, it can become a safe place for all road users. This article lays out 16 wonderful illustrations of ways to do that: there are bump outs, which narrow the streets at pedestrian crossings; speed tables, which raise the crosswalk for motorists to see pedestrians; and bike rails, which allow cyclists to stop at a light and stay on their bike. (Wired)

Quote of the Week

Pulitzer Prize winner Inga Saffron recently wrote about the impact Robert Venturi and Jane Jacobs had on modernist architecture fading in popularity:

At a time when urban renewal was mowing down vast swaths of American cities, Venturi and Jacobs championed the importance of maintaining older buildings. [Venturi] spoke about the “messy vitality,” or complexity, that comes from a jumble of styles and urban facades. The phrase echoes Jacobs’ “sidewalk ballet” performed by strangers who interacted as they went about their daily business on city streets. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Cross Posted at Greater Greater Washington

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer