Aug 14, 2014

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, by Jeff Speck

This fascinating book was chosen by one of my bookstore's owners for our next book club meeting, and I really enjoyed reading it. Speck is arguing for a vastly reduced dependence upon cars for all but the most rural of environments, and his arguments are very convincing. He cites study after study that prove that increasing walkability makes all aspects of the economy go up: property values, local businesses, income savings. He suggests building our cities around the pedestrian instead of the car, which has proven to only blight downtowns, which should be the lifeblood of our economy. He especially attacks traffic engineers and the various state DOTs for insisting on huge, unnecessary roadways, giving lipservice to safety, when really it's been proven that smaller, tree-lined streets lead drivers to drive more slowly and cautiously and have far fewer accidents. It's a no-nonsense approach, backed by an immense amount of hard data that the average person generally has no access to (or interest in). Speck's enthusiasm makes for a very easy and entertaining read, and I can't wait to discuss his ideas with our group.

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