Monday, August 12, 2013

Urban Living: Increasingly for Younger and Older

Next Decade's Largest Social Trend
(Excerpt) "Emerging evidence points to a preference for mixed-use, compact, amenity-rich, transit-accessible neighborhoods or walkable places."

Millennials and Gen-Xers plus Baby Boomers *
Intuitively, many younger people have embraced an urban lifestyle. Some baby boomers and older citizens are now looking above their suburban shrubbery to the city's rising skyline of buildings, walkable amenities, abundant everyday necessities, and accessible mass-transportation links. (Well, in a perfect world, maybe.)

(Excerpt) "'The millennials and the boomers are looking for the same thing,' says Amy Levner, manager of the American Association of Retired Persons' AARP's Living Communities, adding that she is hearing more and more about people over 50 years of age migrating to urban areas ...

And they [baby boomers] are such a large generation that even if only a small percent of them embrace city life, the effect could be dramatic ..."

Walkable Amenities plus Accessible Mass-Transportation
(Excerpt) "Urban-style housing in walkable neighborhoods—including those in the inner suburbs—is what’s in demand today. And for a variety of reasons, that demand will intensify in the coming years. Only by serving it can the country kick-start growth in an enormous and essential part of the economy.

Yet the creation of new, attractive urban spaces is slow and difficult, and becomes all but impossible without substantial new infrastructure. Most of all, it relies on good transit options—especially rail links—around which walkable neighborhoods can develop ... we’ve for the most part neglected to build ... [rail, bike, and walking-centric designed infrastructure] in recent decades, in favor of new roads for new suburbs farther and farther away from metropolitan hubs. To support growth in the next decade, we need to change that dynamic—and nourish our ... [rail, bike, and walking-centric designed new urban areas]."
Source: The Atlantic, June 2010

Transportation Wags the Dog -- but differently
In a planning lab class (or maybe in a perfect world), a blank white board might be where a new walkable urban area is designed. First to be drawn: the rail lines. Then: inter-modal transportation hubs including some automobile parking structures. Next might be: only the existing freeways and streets that are to remain. This transportation design hierarchy could continue on the white board from there -- do not forget the bike lanes and hiking trails.

The "but differently" part is clear


* Note: If you are a person of a certain age that was born between 1946 and 1964 -- there are about 79 million individuals -- you know who you are: a baby boomer.


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