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Speck, coauthor of Suburban Nation (2000), believes America has a problem actually, lots of problems that can be solved by improving walkability in our cities. Public health, sustainability, and even the lagging economy, he argues, can be boosted by making cities more friendly for pedestrians. Drawing on his background as a city planner and architectural designer, Speck lays out a 10-step plan for changing the way we build and think about our public spaces. The steps are wide-ranging, from planting more trees and narrowing roads to investing in well-planned public transit systems and designing visually interesting buildings. Speck is at times blunt and doesn't mince words about the roadblocks to walkability: Traffic studies are bullshit. But he makes a clear and convincing case for the benefits of revitalizing our public spaces in favor of foot traffic. Walkable City, in addition to being full of information about city planning and progress, is a remarkably readable book and moves along quickly because of Speck's spirited writing and no-holds-barred attitude. An engaging book with a powerful message and achievable goals.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
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City planner and architectural designer Speck (co-author of Suburban Nation) offers an informative and engaging look at what's gone awry in American zoning codes and road planning, and what can be done to re-engage the public with downtowns large and small. Contrary to accepted wisdom, the author says that a city center's vitality is not dependent on climate, the width of sidewalks, efficient traffic movement, showboat architecture, or cheap parking. Instead, Speck argues--and research backs him up--that cities need narrower roads, less expedition of traffic via turn lanes or one-way streets--and more mixed-use buildings, protected pedestrian areas, and trees. With covered walkways, people will hike around in any weather. Speck also recommends taking a close look at the effects of public transit and biking, and includes examples of places where one-size-fits-all transportation schemes have failed (see: Dallas). Although it's broadly accessible, Speck's comprehensive effort should appeal to architectural students, civil engineers, and local public servants. Readers will find themselves re-evaluating their home landscape and judging their own urban area through Speck's lens. What they see may shock them. Illus. Agent: Neeti Madan, Sterling Lord. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.