Tools for achieving Healthy, 10-Minute Neighborhoods

This is the sixth blog on issues to be addressed at the 55th International Making Cities Livable Conference, May 14-18, 2018, in Ottawa. To improve neighborhood health we need to use the most effective tools for the task. Here are some of the tools that have been succcessfully used, that will be discussed at the conference.

Form-based codes (FBCs) are a public design process pursuing sustainable built environment with a goal of fostering predictable design outcomes. FBCs have been widely adopted in thriving regions. Jae Teuk Chin, from Saint Louis University presents emerging evidence that increased efficiency and transparency of the development process enabled by FBCs can be conducive also to struggling regions such as St. Louis in the US, the case study area of this research.

Strengthening neighborhood resilience:
Simon Kingham and Karen Banwell, from Christchurch, New Zealand studied what what ‘features’ (social and physical) of communities enabled some areas to respond and recover better and faster following the 2010/2011 earthquakes. Significant physical features include well defined geography and street typology; communities with more of these features had stronger social connectedness. Their talk will end with recommendations for what we can do to make our communities healthier and more resilient.

Process of neighborhood improvement:
One way to improve the livability of a neighborhood is through small scale interventions (pop-ups) to test the popularity and viability of a more permanent transformation. Jenniffer Sheel, Manager, Street Activities will describe the pop-ups inn Vancouver’s West End to transform a street into a plaza, introduce street murals, a rainbow crossing, and a parklet. 

Urban trail systems:
Using a case study example of the Lawrence Loop, a 22-mile, multi-use trail system being developed in the university city of Lawrence, KS (population 100,000), this presentation aims to help small cities plan and implement urban trail systems. Urban and Architectural Designer Suzan Hampton will discuss planning considerations, design solutions, and community outreach and inclusion solutions.

The urban forest:

The urban forest is essential not only to absorb air pollution, and mediate climate to make our streets more walkable and hospitable for social life. Using urban trees as green infrastructure for our cities is also the most sustainable stormwater management solution available, according to Jeremy Bailey of GreenBlue Urbanism. He will discuss the best design solutions.

Bike networks:

Marie-Eve Assuncao-Denis from McGill University looks at the different factors that have contributed to an increase in utilitarian cycling in ten different communities across Canada between 1996 and 2015. The study aims at providing guidance for municipalities of different sizes, locations and contexts wishing to address cycling for transportation in their communities.

Green networks:
Working with the community, Julia Elmer, Detroit Revitalization Fellow at Detroit Health Department demonstrates that there are low-cost ways to connect residents with green space, community centers, and one another even in areas of severe disinvestment, such as the Regent Park neighborhood of Detroit, MI.

Assessing active travel potential:
How can cities be evaluated for their potential to support active travel when they are all so different in land use, density, and transport provisions? Eime Tobari, Associate Director of Space Syntax, London will present a model for measuring journey times using different modes, size of catchment population within 10-minute journey from services, and diversity of services and amenities that are accessible within 10-minute walking distances. This model should be extremely valuable in assessing development projects, and also in pointing out what kind of developments are needed in key locations to improve active travel potential for the region.

In previous blogs we have described guiding principles, some of the new human scale neighborhoods from around the world, transformational neighborhood case studies, opportunities and challenges, and strategies that will be presented at the 55th IMCL Conference. Join the discussion!