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Old 07-30-2012, 08:40 PM
 
Location: SoCal
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When I was home on leave in Los Angeles I spent most of my time walking around instead of driving. I reallized that when there is a lot going on and many places and amenities at nearly everystep you I walked much further during the day.

Now, what got me thinking that that theory was true was when I went back to Ft Bliss in El Paso. The way are barracks/living area is setup is very close to a true suburban area. There are you living areas ( barracks) then the working areas, shopping/amenities and a gym. The thing is there is no infill, and a lot of vacant space. Most trips when walking are mainly point A to B trips. For example a drive to the PX for a haircut and some food is about 5 minutes. For me ( one who does not own a car) walking takes around 20 minutes. Whereas when I was on leave when I'd walk about I'd stop into different shops, restautants, other interesting places because they were there. Thus I lost track of exactly how much I was walking and ended up logging probably more than 15 miles a day! lol

So, my question is: When there are a lot of amenities, buildup, vibrancy and density does that in and of itself cause people to do more walking than more car oriented places even if distances are shorter in the latter?
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Old 07-31-2012, 12:42 AM
 
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Yes, absolutely! It's far more of a pleasure to walk in an interesting environment that changes frequently and is comfortable to walk than in a place that doesn't change much and is uncomfortable to walk. I read a great article based on just this idea today:

Walk Appeal | Better! Cities & Towns Online
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:14 PM
 
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I think the thing that kills walkability/vibrancy more than anything is vehicle traffic. so to create that you have to get rid of the cars by making streets off limits to most or all vehicle traffic. in europe and asia cities are very vibrant because they are filled with streets that are pedestrian-only and pedestrian-priority, which is practically unheard of across the pond because the automobile dominates everything. that people are second class citizens to machines is kind of a scary thing in itself but that's another story. you can accommodate one or the other but you can't accommodate both. that's the mistake urban planners always make. they try to accommodate cars and pedestrians equally but that almost never works. because the cars end up dominating and crowding out everything else.
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:16 PM
 
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I'd say yes. I often rack up 8 miles a day just walking from one place to another and sometimes even wandering around a bit if I have time to kill. Once I was so avid about job searching by going door to door, it was only when I pinched a nerve in my foot that I realized I had walked 20 miles that day.
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:20 PM
 
Location: SoCal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cisco kid View Post
I think the thing that kills walkability/vibrancy more than anything is vehicle traffic. so to create that you have to get rid of the cars by making streets off limits to most or all vehicle traffic. in europe and asia cities are very vibrant because they are filled with streets that are pedestrian-only and pedestrian-priority, which is practically unheard of across the pond because the automobile dominates everything. that people are second class citizens to machines is kind of a scary thing in itself but that's another story. you can accommodate one or the other but you can't accommodate both. that's the mistake urban planners always make. they try to accommodate cars and pedestrians equally but that almost never works. because the cars end up dominating and crowding out everything else.
I don't think you need to go that far to find that sort of walkability. Afterall, it was in Los Angeles the city known for cars that I found that vibrancy. It's certainly something that can coexist with automobiles. Manhattan is stuffed full of cars each day, that doesn't make it any less walkable and vibrant. But there is a balance that must be attained. The automobile needs to be nothing more than an option, not a requirement. That's where I think a lot of suburban neighborhoods fail in reaching that balance. A car is REQUIRED in most of those neighborhoods. That's a problem.
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:42 PM
 
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vibrancy in LA? I'm not sure what that looks like, but I haven't been there lately so I don't know the effect gentrification might be having in the LA core. could be interesting to see the results. it looked quite bland and sterile to me when I was there about eight years ago. of course things may have improved since then.
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:15 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cisco kid View Post
vibrancy in LA? I'm not sure what that looks like, but I haven't been there lately so I don't know the effect gentrification might be having in the LA core. could be interesting to see the results. it looked quite bland and sterile to me when I was there about eight years ago. of course things may have improved since then.
It absolutely depends on the neighborhood. Some areas are car oriented and suburban looking. Others are more pedestrian oriented and walkable. LA has everything. Not necessarily in close proximity.
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:24 AM
 
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Gentrification? Not really--"gentrification" implies displacement of a population, while Los Angeles' core has gone from 15,000 to about 50,000 in a decade largely to incentives to turn vacant office buildings into housing and removing requirements for parking. The new residents aren't moving into housing previously occupied by neighborhood residents, but spaces that were office buildings and industrial spaces. I have visited Los Angeles a few times over the past decade or so, and each time downtown Los Angeles seems to have more vitality and pedestrian activity--while ten years ago you could shoot a cannon down Olvera Street at noon on a weekend and not hit anyone. But by promoting variety, mixed use and enhancing density by reusing existing buildings, and following it up with huge transit investments, they're showing how it can be done.
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,152,084 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Gentrification? Not really--"gentrification" implies displacement of a population, while Los Angeles' core has gone from 15,000 to about 50,000 in a decade largely to incentives to turn vacant office buildings into housing and removing requirements for parking. The new residents aren't moving into housing previously occupied by neighborhood residents, but spaces that were office buildings and industrial spaces.
Or completely empty / abandoned. Also a lot of SROs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wburg View Post
I have visited Los Angeles a few times over the past decade or so, and each time downtown Los Angeles seems to have more vitality and pedestrian activity--while ten years ago you could shoot a cannon down Olvera Street at noon on a weekend and not hit anyone. But by promoting variety, mixed use and enhancing density by reusing existing buildings, and following it up with huge transit investments, they're showing how it can be done.
This is crazy to me... I am always sort of confused when people say there is no pedestrian activity in LA when they visited. It's no NYC or anything, but I don't see a difference at all when comparing it to my last city of Boston, which is no slouch in vibrancy / pedestrian life. I'm a newcomer to living in the city itself, before I moved to Boston most of my experience in LA was in West LA (the actual tiny neighborhood) and the SFV, so I didn't see much of the core areas. I guess 10 years really can make a huge difference.
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
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I think you're right about the amount/variety of amenities in walking distance. These amenities not only include actual businesses, parks, and offices, but also the actual pedestrian infrastructure. If all you have is 4-ft sidewalks with many driveways right beside a 4-lane road with 40+ mph traffic, and widely separated or nonexistent/faded crosswalks, you're not going to see many people walking, no matter how close things are.

I think in many cases urban planners want to re-create the European pedestrian street/plaza experience (rather than "surrender" the roads to cars), when all that's really needed is simple: better pedestrian infrastructure and visibility. Flashing crosswalks with no right turn on red and midblock crossings especially at transit stops, overpasses/underpasses in some strategic high traffic corridors. Simple, cheap, effective. Neither cars nor pedestrians deserve to be treated as "road hazards" to the forward progress of the other.
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