Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label Jeff Speck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeff Speck. Show all posts

Saturday, December 15, 2012


When I was writing The Lost Art of Walking, my fellow psychogeographer (or whatever the hell we are) Iain Sinclair offered the opinion that people hadn’t lost the art, rather that we’ve lost the environment in which people can do any walking.  A nice distinction, though of course once the environment’s gone, people lose the art pretty shortly thereafter.

This issue of the walking environment is discussed in a new book titled Walkable City by Jeff Speck, a “a city planner who advocates for smart growth and sustainable design.” Funny, isn’t it, how you never come across a city planner who advocates stupid growth and unsustainability?  Maybe they don’t write books.  Or maybe they just lie in their author bios.

I’ve only just started reading the book, but I immediately see it contains a “General Theory of Walkability.”  Yes yes, a THEORY of walking, just what the world needs. “To be favored” Speck writes, “a walk has to satisfy four main conditions: it must be useful, safe, comfortable and interesting,” which strikes me as simultaneously feeble and condescending.  Of course I’m not going to argue that a walk should be dangerous and dull, and yet “useless” walking with a certain degree of “discomfort” is pretty much what I live for.

I’m also, in general, fairly happy making my own definition of “interesting,” but in case you’re one of the poor souls who doesn’t feel the same way, here’s Mr. Speck to help you.  “Interesting means that sidewalks are lined by unique buildings with friendly faces and that signs of humanity abound.” Kind of makes you want to get in your Hummer and do burnouts, doesn’t it?  Only theoretically, of course.

"Buildings with friendly faces" - oh spare me.