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The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus


Walkable City: A Book Report

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013

by Ellen Haider, co-chair, Regional Planning and Land Use Committee
There is a new book out, available at the library, that is a perfect complement to the work that the League’s Regional Planning and Land Use Committee completed a year ago.

Jeff Speck, a city planner, has written Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time (N.Y., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012).  Jeff has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive, and he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability.

He begins the book with “A General Theory of Walkability.”  He says a really good urban walk must satisfy four main conditions: it must be useful, safe, comfortable and interesting. This can be relatively easy and cheap to accomplish.  Seeing what must be done is the trick.  He gives as a success story the “new” bridge that Columbus built over the freeway to link the Short North with the Convention Center.  It cost a mere additional $1.9 million to perform “an act of magic.”

Breaking it down to ten things that make an urban walk walkable, he describes how simple decisions have cascading effects and how we can all participate in making the right choices for our communities.

An easy read, I commend it to you as a vehicle (pardon the pun) to see the possibilities of various parts of our municipal area through new eyes.