From the highest rooftops, a call to gimme shelter.

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The urbanist blogosphere is chock-full of rants on how new developments compromise pedestrian connectivity—not so much in terms of the final product (where I’m equally guilty of such tirades), but even during the construction process. These days, most mid-sized and large metro areas are gorging on the fruit, born from seeds planted long ago, through …Read more…

Sharpening the Cut.

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My latest appeared at Huffington Post a few days ago, but thanks to persistent wifi problems, only today have I been able to link it.  Sorry about that. It focuses on the Dequindre Cut, a high-profile rail-trail conversion in Detroit, whose Phase I (extending about 1.2 miles, from Gratiot Avenue to the Riverfront) has been …Read more…

Movable, misunderstood apparitions.

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In certain subcultures, it’s become a meme.  But it took me a little while to catch on. Only after driving past this curiosity for three consecutive days did I realize what it was.  It’s not exactly showy, but that’s the point.  Look slightly to the left of the center of this photo, and it should …Read more…

When egalitarianism rests on two wheels.

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With scores of urban advocacy blogs out there, I find it hard to imagine that I have much to add to the conversation on the defining characteristics of Mackinac Island, Michigan.  Even if the northerly island in Lake Huron—a former Jesuit mission, Ojibwa sacred site, and strategic military encampment—elicits little more than a head-scratching among …Read more…

The right kind of sidewalk clutter.

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My latest post–a short one (for me at least)–is now up at Urban Indy.  It focuses on the Mozzo, a newly completed multifamily residential development in the Sacred Heart neighborhood, fronting the increasingly active Virginia Avenue commercial corridor. By and large it’s a satisfactory building, with a massing that befits the old neighborhood just a …Read more…

Street slimming.

My latest post went up last night on UrbanIndy.com.  The issue it features is fairly parochial: a minor collector street on the east side of Indianapolis is far wider than it needs to be.  Ritter Avenue, barely four miles long in its entirety, offers a reasonable accommodation for a segment south of East 10th Street, …Read more…

Improving urban bikability amounts to more than just spinning wheels.

It’s not just for the Dutch anymore. The inclusion of infrastructure to accommodate bicycles has, at least in the US, finally entered the mainstream, most likely far later than in most other developed countries that are less dependent upon the automobile. While some large American cities introduced segregated bicycle facilities as early as the 1970s, …Read more…

Roadside Americana gets flair.

When a community takes a banal public works project and gussies it up, it is certain to divert a visitor’s gaze—what normally blends in to the landscape because of its ubiquity and sheer ordinariness has suddenly become remarkable. Other initiatives simply attempt to camouflage what the public almost unanimously agrees is an ugly piece of …Read more…

Democratizing the streets.

It is obvious to the untrained eye that, in recent years, municipal and county governments are paying increasing attention to the capacity for streets to accommodate entities other than vehicles, most specifically for pedestrians and bicycles. In most parts of the country, sidewalks in new subdivisions are no longer a bonus feature to lend prestige; …Read more…