Monday, July 7, 2008

Walkable Communities

At the very last minute, I booked a couple nights at a condo in Park City for me and mr. mfranti over the 4th O' July holiday. Park City is a place that I typically have no interest in visiting except for events held at the Resort or maybe a trip to Kimball Junction to hit up the Pearl Izumi outlet. In this instance, I had nothing going on for the holiday weekend, the room was cheap, the drive was 30 minutes and it's about 10-15 degrees cooler than than the high 90's forecasted. Seems like a good reason to suck it up and go, no?

So....I have to reluctantly admit that I was pleasantly surprised. Park City is, despite its opulence and wealth and it's determination to make everything look the same, very charming. It's also a very walkable community, the big bright spot of my weekend. I parked my car on Friday, unloaded the mountain bikes and didn't drive until we left on Sunday.

Now, I understand that because it's a tourist destination, it makes sense that condos are tucked right into shopping/retail/office space, that all buses run from Kimball Junction to the resorts and main street, that there's a place to eat (and drink) every few hundred yards and that there's all sorts of bike/walk trails designed to get the traveling pedestrian/bike commuter to _________.

What I don't understand is why it is so difficult to duplicate this in every community. Why aren't our city leaders trying to (re)design similar cities? My very unsophisticated (and mediocre) brain says this kind of city planning is a revenue generator or in other words, "good for business." If John Doe can walk to the local market/restaurant/bar, he will buy more chips/food/beer. and he will do it frequently and as a perk, he wont be taking up space on the roadways.

I know we are attached to our cars, nothing is going to change that and I'm not asking for a major overhaul, just a little more planning, re-planning and a focus on building neighborhoods.


  1. How funny...I also spent a very pleasant spur-of-the-moment weekend in Park City (and amazingly, it was free!)

    The reason downtown Park City is so walkable (unlike most of the other newer Summit County communities) is that it was all laid out before the invention of the automobile. While PC itself is very dense and walkable, most of the growth in Summit County is just expensive high-altitude suburban sprawl. The people I know who live out that way are far more dependent on their vehicles than a lot of folks in SLC.

  2. oh...the automobile. both useful and harmful.

    like cell phones, alchohol, and premium cable t.v.

  3. Hey MPM, I know I already mentioned this to you, but for everyone else reading, watch "The End of Suburbia". It touches on the issues in this post. It's an informative film.

  4. My wife, who got her undergrad in urban planning, says it is because city governments won't allow it. They are too smitten with the deep pockets of the national developers who are very interested in strip malls and sprawl. Being an urban planner is extremely depressing, because no one will listen to your knowledge on the need for compact planning (at least in Utah).

  5. i already knew it was deep pockets and spineless legislators behind the lack of planning i just didn't want to got there in my initial post.



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