There is a growing awareness around the country that something is wrong and that change is needed. An increasing number of communities around the US are beginning to realize that the modern focus on wider, straighter and faster travel via a single mode – the automobile – has produced unintended consequences for their citizens. Congestion is rampant, Americans die on our roads at the rate of almost 3,000 a month, parents are afraid to let their children walk down the streets, and new communities have no soul. Obesity and its related diseases are rampant, dependence on imported oil makes us vulnerable to the economics of oil price, and climate change is not being sufficiently addressed. Furthermore, streets are no longer viewed as places, which is a huge loss given that streets can take up as much as one-third of a community’s land.
Communities are also recognizing that conventional planning, which is top down, time consuming, difficult to engage in, and often leads to little or no change, is not meeting their needs.
Project for Public Spaces offers an alternative: Community and Place-based Planning. By focusing on place, our approach breaks down silos and makes conversation simple enough to allow everyone to contribute, as opposed to discipline driven processes that can be too complex and intimidating. Most of all, place-based planning and investment restores confidence and creates pride in community and neighborhoods.
Towards this end, PPS offers the following services, described in detail below:
- Capacity building and culture change for Community Based Transportation
- Community and Place-Based Planning
Capacity building and culture change towards Community Based Transportation
One or two day workshops
- One-day workshops tend to be more oriented towards an overview and inspiration to move in the direction of community based transportation instead of the conventional single mode high speed mobility transportation that has typified the profession for over 50 years.
- Two-day workshops can allow the addition of a facilitated internal self assessment workshop for various departments within the communities or agencies. It is designed to help break down silos and engender greater coordination around the concept of place between various disciplines in the City. At the end of the workshop an action plan for change will be developed for later follow-up by the community or agency.
Advance work could be done to set the table for the workshop. PPS can create a number of surveys that can identify places in a community, rating them as high performing or those in need of improvement. Called the Power of Ten exercise, this focuses on existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of various places and destinations in the city. Results from an advance survey can frame the workshop and self assessment. Rather then coming in as outsiders and telling the client what PPS thinks, this process leads communities through their own analysis. PPS expertise and analysis is interjected only when invited and sparingly. PPS can “seed” the self assessment by providing principles and benchmark images from around the world for how transportation, markets, and public space can be used to support a community’s goals instead of being maximized independently in silos.
Extended long term culture change
Long term culture change support will usually build upon an action plan created earlier in a one or two day workshop. PPS will work with clients to build upon that workshop to create a comprehensive and coordinated capacity building program. If desired by the client, prototype projects can be undertaken to help precipitate the change.
Specific capacity building modules
Streets as Places Training
A two-day training seminar about how to redefine transportation and streets to build communities, not simply move cars. Issues that will be addressed include: how street design can promote community health and economic vitality; how communities (e.g. New York City, Pittsburgh, Seattle, San Francisco, and Brunswick, Maine) are using Action Planning and street improvement experiments to transform their streets into quality public spaces; how to incorporate bicycle lanes and multi-modal infrastructure in urban and rural areas where street space is limited; how to develop more walkable neighborhoods around transit stations; how citizens can use Placemaking to build great streets and great communities; and how to engage transportation agencies to achieve the above outcomes.
Getting what you need from transportation planning
Based on the revolutionary Citizens Guide to Better Streets book, written by career transportation engineer Gary Toth in 2008, this module is a half day and will help citizens interact collaboratively with their local or state department of transportation. With the core principles of Placemaking in mind, this session provides guidance on how to initiate new projects and shape existing ones; explains the transportation planning process; gives tips on how to work with government bureaucracies; and explores other related topics.
Integrating Transportation and Land Use
PPS can provide custom training on the principles of Transportation and Land Use. We can build on modules such as the following:
- Principles of Transportation and Land Use
- Transportation’s impact on land use and development patterns,
- How land use patterns at both local and regional scales impact travel patterns
- Performance measures characterizing the land use-transportation system
- How transportation and land use systems can be designed in a mutually supportive manner
- Elements of quality street design for all users
- Relationship between quality street design and land use planning
- Roadway and streetscape design strategies to foster street design for all users
- Appropriate contexts for applying these strategies
- Changes to agency policies, project selection criteria, funding programs, etc. that may be required to foster planning and street design for all users
- Describe the role of access management in fostering street design for all users
- Keys to flexible design approaches to create street design for all users
- Brief overview of traffic calming
- Thinking Beyond the Station and Transit-Oriented Development and Scenario Planning
- Brief intro into traffic forecasting models, strengths and weaknesses
- Corridor Planning
- Transportation Project Development
- Roadway and Streetscape Design
Community and Place-based Transportation Planning
Community and place-based transportation planning can be done separately or as part of an overall vision plan for a community. Sometimes called upside down planning, this involves proactively deciding what you want your community to look like in 20 to 50 years, then engaging each of your various departments and disciplines to create a plan that achieves that vision. Transportation investment is planned to support the community’s vision. This is contrasted with conventional transportation planning, which is often done in a silo and measured against high speed mobility performance measures. Community and place based planning uses livability, sustainability and place-based performance measures.
We do this “upside down” starting with the vision for the community as a whole, and then figuring out how to size and locate streets, transit stops and lines to support, not compete, with the community vision.
One key element of place based transportation planning is Streets as Places which involves transforming the design & the quality of human life & the environment rather than simply move vehicle from place to place.
Tools deployed to support place based planning include Power of Ten, Placemapping, the Place Audit, and the Street audit. As part of place-based transportation planning, we can provide expertise to communities on how to use Form Based Codes to provide the stage and setting for Placemaking and multi modal streets.
Facilitating public involvement in transportation design and planning
PPS is a national leader in facilitating public engagement in transportation. Under this process, there isn’t a separate public involvement (PI) component. PI is built right into the Placemaking process and the subject matter experts (SMEs) – each having their individual specialty – are the individuals who engage the community. The ideas are generated in a synergistic collaboration between PPS, community officials, and the public, so the need to spend time to sell expert ideas to the community is minimized.
Street Space reprogramming
Helping communities re-size and reconfigure individual streets to support place and community, not just automobile throughput.
Street Typology development
Creation of a matrix of 5 to 15 street types based on their roles in the community; with associated appropriate route speeds and design standards that relate to both community and transportation context.
Network and Connectivity Development
Network development can consist of two parts, either performed separately or in tandem. One would involve using the connectivity exercise that was developed by the Indianapolis area MPO, and involves mapping out biking, walking, automobile and transit routes within a community, neighborhood or otherwise designated district. Biking routes will be determined by identifying where bikes are accommodated by designated lanes, separated tracks, sufficient shoulders or streets where automotive speed is slow enough to allow bicyclists to safely share the street. Walking routes will be generally identified by sidewalks. Transit routes will be identified by existing services. Once mapped, the number of closed loops will be counted and tested against a predetermined level of desired connectivity.
Place Based Form Based Codes
Form Based Codes typically engage in a charrette or visioning process that endeavors to ask the questions: how does the community perceive itself and what does it want to be or become? — How does it envision itself growing? What patterns of growth, which building “envelop” typologies, which street types/typologies? and where for each? And typically this “visioning” is handled as somewhat of an abstraction resting on real world/case studies or examples. The community is consulted and then shown what the expected outcomes of the planning/code writing are based on its vision.
Then, typically “the expert” takes this information, goes away and writes/drafts a code that generally reflects the community’s aspirations and the regional and environmental context. And typically “the expert” gets it mostly right—the consultant understands in the most general way that “form” promotes behavior. The stage is set, the armature is in place— but this does not necessarily create place. It is a good starting point, but the community still just has a stage set, and not necessarily the play, the actors, the costumes, etc.
The PPS approach frontloads the charrette/visioning with Placemaking exercises and Power of 10 thinking. It acknowledges the community as expert and does not regard the visioning as an abstract exercise but as ongoing/tactile, iterative exercises that do not have a pre-determined solution. The idea is to write a code that formulates templates for a place-based or a place generating code.