“City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village” by David Sucher, is a book I consult often. It is heavy with photos of how and why urban settings work or not.
Perusing it the other day, I chose some ideas to share with you. Most of them are credited to Seattle, where the author lives. He took and gathered photos of scenes that both illustrated the New Urbanist ethic and their dystopian opposites. One scene is labled "Dystopia" and it could be McKnight Road or any other thoroughfare of multi lanes in both directions surrounded by parking lots in front of ugly box buildings.
The book recommends ways to design, build and communicate for a happier, more vibrant, respectful, pedestrian-friendly and safe city living experience.
Some ways are cheap and easy.
The photo at right is one. It illustrates the point that if people know the reason for a rule, they are more likely to honor it.
I like this sign. I want one to put beside Lake Elizabeth in Allegheny Commons Park, where people throw big hunks of bread around thinking they’re doing something swell for the birds.
This sign explains why they are misguided.
Sucher's recommendations include outdoor, public bulletin boards as a way for people to learn about a neighborhood, let their neighbors know about events, engage people and make the landscape more fun.
To discourage them is “a sad mistake,” he writes. “Community starts with communication.”
He doesn't address the issue of potential litter, which is an issue.
He also recommends two-way traffic, slowing traffic by planting trees and installing traffic circles, open storefronts, cops on bikes, street vendors and public clocks.
One suggestion in the book has been applied in Pittsburgh, a stencil of a fish and the admonition: “Dump no waste, drains to rivers.” It is painted beside storm drains.