Calthorpe on Chinese urbanism

MLewyn's picture

Peter Calthorpe spoke this morning on Chinese urbanism- the good and the bad. From a new urbanist perspective, the good includes density and transportation: Chinese cities tend to be more compact than ours, and the government seeks to limit car use to a 20% modal share (i.e. 20 percent of all trips by car- still an increase over the current 12 percent share).

The bad: lots of streets that are too wide to comfortably cross, and lots of blocks that tend to be on the long side.

Calthorpe noted that there are four major types of Chinese streets: the traditional, pre-grid, pre-1900 street, the 20th-century grid street, the enclave (a Maoist-era superblock but with every conceivable use inside) and the more recent superblock. The traditional street has the most pedestrian and least car travel, the superblock is the most auto-oriented, and the other two types are somewhere in between.

He also noted that on-street parking is virtually nonexistent in Chinese cities- after all, if you have valuable street space, why waste it on parking? (By contrast, American street space is so devalued that on-street parking is often the lesser evil).

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