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"Where Can You Live Happily Without a Car in America?"
- By Ben Carlson
Julie Campoli believes that the best way to make a great neighborhood is to design it for walking first, and cars last. Campoli, author of “Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form” and “Visualizing Density”, spoke to a capacity crowd of nearly 100 people at a TRC sponsored event on Wednesday, January 23.
Campoli recently traveled around the country, but her travels weren’t traditional tourism. She searched out the neighborhoods that fit her key criteria, including dense, beautiful, safe, transit accessible, etc. She looked not just for areas that were technically “walkable”, but more specifically tried to answer the question, “Where can you live happily without a car in America?”.
Traveling with a foldable bike, Campoli took incredible photographs while biking around neighborhoods nationwide and in some cases spliced consecutive images together to show the neighborhoods with beauty that stretched for blocks. Campoli believes the nation is changing in favor of the types of neighborhoods she photographed, citing in particular the shift in the Millennial Generation away from cars and toward urban cores.
Photo: "Historic and infill buildings along High Street in Columbus, OH."
Campoli highlighted in particular the cities that are headed in the right direction, from New York City’s reclaiming streets for pedestrian areas to bikepaths in Washington, DC. In her presentation she highlighted Lancaster, California, where a busy strip was turned into a beautiful boulevard with an investment that was matched tenfold by private investors, making a place where people want to spend time, not just pass through.
Throughout the lecture, Campoli highlighted her main point that “setting a really high standard for public spaces” is essential in rejuvenating areas, such as was done in redesigning New York City’s parks, now attracting not just residents, but tourists to visit them.
The mixed crowd that turned out to hear Campoli, in addition to UVM faculty and students, included a number of residents from surrounding communities, who quickly turned the conversation to issues they are facing. Campoli offered suggestions from tree planting, to increased downtown housing, to setting higher standards for design in local ordinances. Campoli takes a strong stand on the steps needed to improve our cities and neighborhoods, offering up her own standard of livability for communities that is both provocative and inspiring.
Julie Campoli was recently featured in an article on the website, "This Big City". To read that story click here. For more about Julie Campoli and her books, visit her website here. If you are interested in more about assessing the walkability of communities with many criteria, you may want to visit Walkonomics.com.