Sunday, October 11, 2009

Just the Essentials

Final Score: Pedestrian-friendly references - 85, References to "cars" or "driving" - 10.

In its newly released draft report highlighting the Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes, the EPA sends a clear message that the car has been booted off the throne (presumably by the foot of an irritated walker).

The report identifies 11 policy areas in which local governments can change their zoning codes to promote what the EPA calls "complete neighborhoods—places where residents can walk to jobs and services, where choices exist for housing and transportation, where open space is preserved, and where climate change mitigation goals can be realized." Nearly every chapter includes modifications to improve walkability, such as revising street standards to add "narrow local streets" categories or reducing block lengths to improve pedestrian connections.

While I'm not sure I agreee with how the EPA characterizes all of the suggested changes (is requiring sidewalks on both sides of the street really a "wholesale change" in the regulatory framework, or a "thing we obviously should have been doing for years and ought to put in the code starting tomorrow"?), I'm encouraged to see walking featured so prominently in a national-level policy document.

I wonder if our Board of Supervisors would notice if I slipped some of these into our next ordinance update?

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