Showing posts from December, 2015

How wide was my sidewalk

Cedar Rapids is introducing wide sidewalks into areas of the city. The standard sidewalk, such as the one that runs in front of my house, is five feet wide.
In some older areas of town, they're only three feet wide. A wide sidewalk can be several times that.
Urban designers commend wide sidewalks for areas of heavy pedestrian traffic. David Sucher (2003: 97) notes: The twelve-foot-wide sidewalk allows two couples to pass each other easily and with only minimal and unconscious maneuvering and no interruption of the conversation. He includes a picture taken in Alexandria, Virginia, showing two women walking side-by-side in one direction, a third woman walking closer to the street, and a man in a wheelchair coming the other direction. They’ll clearly pass each other without needing to squeeze through or be at all awkward. Andres Duany et al. (2010: 9.1) add, On active retail streets, a 15- to 25-foot width from building to curb is not excessive, particularly if outdoor dining is a p…

Dan Burden on sidewalks and the future

I would never walk. I would take a car. --DR. SEUSS, "ONE FISH TWO FISH RED FISH BLUE FISH"
Dan Burden of Blue Zones praised both sidewalks and the City of Cedar Rapids's plans to include them in development in a talk at CSPS Hall last week. Burden, director of innovation and inspiration for Blue Zones, talked up both the social and economic benefits of complete streets, which he said "address all the needs of all the people all the time" instead of focusing exclusively on efficient flow of automobile traffic.

Burden said modifying the streetscape was an essential element of Blue Zones' efforts in Albert Lea, Minnesota, which helped bring about dramatic improvements in health spending and work productivity. Economically, he argued complete streets produce 4-5 times the revenue per square foot than auto-oriented streets; add value to homes at several times the cost of constructing a sidewalk and planting street trees; and, with more compact development provi…

Violence, fear, guns and our common life

"Chi-Raq," Spike Lee's new movie, begins with a map of the United States outlined in guns. Its release poignantly coincides with last week's shootings at a community center in San Bernardino, California. Following so quickly on the Planned Parenthood clinic shootings in Colorado Springs, not to mention the terror attacks in Paris, the latest killings appear to have rekindled anxieties about violence in America. How will we respond? Early indications are that the American political system remains mired in old rhetoric and rigidly defined positions. Can we even respond at all?

President Obama addressed the country Sunday night, in an effort to assuage public fears of terrorism and gun violence. He promised to "destroy ISIL," which is what one might expect him to say despite the elusiveness of the goal, and provided details of military, diplomatic and intelligence efforts to counter terrorism. On guns he called for barring purchases by people on no-fly lists,…