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Italian Cities Are Both Examples & Cautionary Tales

Patricia Brown, Director, Central
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 08:00 EST

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Patricia Brown
Patricia Brown  
12/9/2013 9:45:39 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Mixed bag indeed
Thanks, Hazel. I think there are certain urbanists and city leaders who are great at details and big thinking. We need more of those, as they are the ones who hold the feet to fire of people who should observe and change as part of their role, but who don't...

Hazel
Hazel  
12/9/2013 7:13:26 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Mixed bag indeed
You're right, Patricia. I think no amount of data can replace actually going out there and seeing the city. Big data can be used as a supplement or a tool, but not as a replacement for the actual bulk of the job.

Hazel
Hazel  
12/9/2013 7:11:56 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Mixed bag indeed
Good point. I think city planners and engineers should "taste the soup" so they can be fair with their plans and assessments. It's the only way to get it right.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
12/5/2013 2:54:41 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Not in my town...
That's true, Nicole. Pilots show the concept in action as opposed to just reading about it. But first you have to get them to agree to the pilot...

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
12/4/2013 5:21:16 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Not in my town...
PR campaigns are a good way, but also pilot projects, I think... like, "hey, let's just show you how much better your business does when we pedestrianize this area for X hours per week for the next two months." That allows retailers to get adjusted without committing to the idea of a permanent change.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
12/4/2013 5:18:44 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Not in my town...
You'd think by now that would have changed, right Toby? We experienced this in New York with the pedestrianisation of Broadway -- initially opposed by local merchants, who are now reaping the benefits.

Patricia Brown
Patricia Brown  
12/4/2013 4:09:21 PM
User Rank Blogger
Tasting the soup
Love the notion of 'tasting the soup'. I think it also comes down to another fave of mine - empathy. And it's hard to be empathetic without more empirical moments in cities.

piratejulie
piratejulie  
12/4/2013 2:42:57 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Mixed bag indeed
@Patricia : Your desire for planners and engineers to be out more reminds me of a moment in Journalism school.  It was a seminar meant to address the fundamentals of good reporting, researching and writing.  The example offered to the class was in the form of this question : "Did you taste the soup?" Translating that to your point : Did you walk in the neighborhoods [or city] you seek to 'improve?'

Patricia Brown
Patricia Brown  
12/4/2013 12:21:18 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Mixed bag indeed
thanks for your nice comment! I think big data can really help, but for my money, so much of it is about looking at places and the way people use them.  I guess that is what Jan Gehl has made his own - but it should be part of the job of every planner and transport engineer to spend time simply being out more! 

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
12/4/2013 7:38:47 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Not in my town...
Maybe one way to ease retailers in, is the timed spaces, rather than going whole hog. Of course, this is what your Italian friend essentially suggested, Toby. But now there are piles of stats -- not least of all in NYC -- that confirm that it's good for everyone. Really everyone. 

Retailers just haven't been educated to know it's to their benefit. If they saw the stats, they'd be running to city hall. What's needed is a PR campaign for pedestrianized spaces geared directly to small retailers. 

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