During Greek Fest last month in Salt Lake City, I chatted briefly with a few people from @DowntownPlanSLC. During our conversation, I asked if they had any recommendations for cities to look at that suffer from the same problems we see in Utah: huge city blocks, wide streets, etc.
They recommended I look at Melbourne, which has big blocks but in the last 20 years or so has become a model of walkability. I had no idea.
The video on this page (sorry, embedding wasn’t working when I wrote this) comes from StreetFilms and explains both what Melbourne looks like today and how it got that way. The video explains how big blocks were bisected with pedestrian lanes, how to grow small and intimate spaces, and how the city doubled the number of pedestrians by widening sidewalks and planting trees.
Why is Salt Lake City not doing these things?
I don’t know, but the video also makes an important point:
Melbourne is a new world city, it has a modern grid much like a typical American metropolis. Naysayers who do not believe a city can be radically transformed say that the already narrow streets of many European cities make it easier to have good pedestrian environments there. Melbourne proves that isn’t necessarily so.
I tend to cite Europe a lot on this blog because that’s where I’ve spent the most time experiencing great spaces. However, as Melbourne proves, it’s still possible to create these kinds of spaces today.