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A cyclist rides through downtown Copenhagen. Photographer: Torbörn Larsson/Knight Foundation
The how—and why—of livable cities
The basic recipe for making livable cities is now widely known. For example, see the classic documentary on The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” by William Whyte or the more recent “The Human Scale” by Copenhagen’s Gehl Architects about how warm, social cities—instead of bleak, impersonal megacities—can be humanity’s future.
Put people first. Design for pedestrians, followed by cyclists and public transit. Make all three modes comfortable, affordable, efficient and accessible, to give people choices. In Copenhagen, the strategy emphasizes sidewalks and bike lanes that remain slightly elevated as they cross intersections, reminding cars to slow down.
Increasing the livability of downtown was a big part of the city’s recovery. By attracting residents, including young families, it improved the city’s tax base and generated funds for new projects. The population of greater Copenhagen continues to grow, and the city simply cannot accommodate several hundred thousand more cars daily. The world needs urgently needs more of such transformative projects!
Related Link: “Does placemaking help democracy?" by Andrew Sherry, Aug. 29 on Knight Blog