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Author Topic: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"  (Read 4989 times)

stridentweasel

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Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« on: February 28, 2019, 12:00:10 AM »

I had forgotten all about this suggestion box!  In another thread, I recently suggested that the AARoads Forum would greatly benefit from an Urban Plannning/Design board in the "Non-Road Boards" section of the website.  Topics related to urban planning and design, such as suburban sprawl, New Urbanism, walkability, bicycle infrastructure, urban density, mixed-use, and urbanized landscapes come up so often that I feel they warrant their own board here.  Discussions of roads, automobile infrastructure, and mass transit (all of which are discussed at great length on this forum) intersect with issues of urban planning and design so frequently that urban planning/design topics are practically unavoidable in deep, meaningful discussions.  However, when the discussion moves toward the ways in which people inhabit cities and the built environment, it can become so heated that it sometimes derails an otherwise focused topic.  That is one reason why I think an Urban Planning/Design board would be a great addition to this site, so discussions that veer too far from the specifics of transportation infrastructure can be moved to a section where they can be freely discussed with the necessary levels of passion and debate.  Of course, in keeping with the prevailing norms of this forum, these discussions should remain civil, and talk of political issues should be limited to the topic at hand.  So, I think this would be a very productive feature here, and it may even help attract roadgeeks to the urban design community, and attract urbanism enthusiasts to the roadgeek community, due to their heavy intersectionality.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2019, 02:05:12 AM »

I am obviously for this proposed new board.

I think we have enough users that are interested in this topic to support this extra board.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2019, 03:27:34 AM »

I didn't know I needed this until you brought it up recently. I've always wanted to talk about these kinds of topics on this forum.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2019, 04:11:08 AM »

I'm unsure that splitting off urban planning/design issues from roads/other infrastructure issues would be useful. The two sets of issues often interact, especially from the standpoint of rural/suburban residents who need to travel into or through cities at least on occasion. Putting urban planning/design into its own board would not help address those interactions.

Some specificity about what kind of discussions belong in the proposed new board, that don't fit in to existing boards, would help.

As for attracting urbanism enthusiasts, if the new board is hidden from guests like Mass Transit and Fictional are, that will make it less of a draw. But if it isn't hidden, we run the risk of drawing urbanism enthusiasts who have little or no interest in roads and are just looking for another urban design forum, rather than people interested in roads who are also interested in related urban design issues.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 07:04:25 AM by oscar »
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2019, 08:29:34 AM »

I agree with Oscar's sentiments.  Unless there are strict parameters, I see a high risk of the new board turning into a disaster that keeps the moderators even busier. 

Although I see planning as relevant to the core discussion here -- roads -- the last thing we need is a forum that attracts a group of "enthusiasts" whose interests do not align with the main purpose of AARoads.  It can be easily envisioned that such a group would use their board to galvanize their own principles and drown out opposing views. 

So, I am all for urbanist discussions as they pertain to roads, but creating an echo chamber for "enthusiasts" would do more harm than good to this forum.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2019, 09:55:17 AM »

I'm unsure that splitting off urban planning/design issues from roads/other infrastructure issues would be useful. The two sets of issues often interact, especially from the standpoint of rural/suburban residents who need to travel into or through cities at least on occasion. Putting urban planning/design into its own board would not help address those interactions.

It would mainly be a place for discussions that are more focused on urban planning/design issues that extend beyond roads, rather than discussions about roads themselves.

Quote
Some specificity about what kind of discussions belong in the proposed new board, that don't fit in to existing boards, would help.

These discussions certainly overlap with what is already discussed in the existing boards, but there are plenty of topics where we go from "this is just about roads" to "this is about the broader design of cities, districts, and urbanized places."  Here's a quick example that I learned about relatively recently:


This kind of design intervention--yes, it's very much about roads, but it's also about architecture, pedestrian and bicycle interaction, and the harmony of how built structures fit together in the urban environment.  THIS is urban design, and many projects like this, at varying scales, are likely of interest to people who enjoy learning about transportation infrastructure and the built environment.

Quote
As for attracting urbanism enthusiasts, if the new board is hidden from guests like Mass Transit and Fictional are, that will make it less of a draw. But if it isn't hidden, we run the risk of drawing urbanism enthusiasts who have little or no interest in roads and are just looking for another urban design forum, rather than people interested in roads who are also interested in related urban design issues.

Perhaps it should remain hidden from guests.  Guests who develop enough of an interest in the AARoads Forum often eventually learn about the hidden boards anyway, such as any time someone says "Take it to Fictional Highways!"  But I also bring this up because, in my experience of browsing the Internet, which I must admit can never be 100% complete, I have found a LACK of message boards that appeal to ENTHUSIASTS about urbanism/urban design; rather, the boards I've found on planning/urban design topics tend to appeal more to those who work in the industry and are seeking practical career advice.  I would very much like to see a place for discussion of proposed projects, theoretical ideas, and critiques of existing parts of the built environment--the kind of stuff for enthusiasts--the kind of discussion that most people here engage in about roads.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2019, 09:57:10 AM »

I agree with Oscar's sentiments.  Unless there are strict parameters, I see a high risk of the new board turning into a disaster that keeps the moderators even busier. 

Although I see planning as relevant to the core discussion here -- roads -- the last thing we need is a forum that attracts a group of "enthusiasts" whose interests do not align with the main purpose of AARoads.  It can be easily envisioned that such a group would use their board to galvanize their own principles and drown out opposing views. 

So, I am all for urbanist discussions as they pertain to roads, but creating an echo chamber for "enthusiasts" would do more harm than good to this forum.

If you observe discussions among planners and New Urbanists, you will find so much debate that it can hardly be considered an "echo chamber."
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2019, 10:04:56 AM »



I agree with Oscar's sentiments.  Unless there are strict parameters, I see a high risk of the new board turning into a disaster that keeps the moderators even busier. 

Although I see planning as relevant to the core discussion here -- roads -- the last thing we need is a forum that attracts a group of "enthusiasts" whose interests do not align with the main purpose of AARoads.  It can be easily envisioned that such a group would use their board to galvanize their own principles and drown out opposing views. 

So, I am all for urbanist discussions as they pertain to roads, but creating an echo chamber for "enthusiasts" would do more harm than good to this forum.

If you observe discussions among planners and New Urbanists, you will find so much debate that it can hardly be considered an "echo chamber."

You said there is a lack of online forums for such, so I don't know where these intense debates occur.  They certainly did not in my university's regional planning department where the mantras of the likes of "cars and single family homes = bad; transit = good" were to be accepted rather than considered.

Given my experience with that and the Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT) organization in DC -- another place where I have seen the echo chamber actually take form, I don't agree with your optimistic view.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2019, 10:39:25 AM »

There is a mass transit board, which is quite broad extension of the main topic.  Urban planning seems to be on the same page.
I, for one, more interested in roads as part of an infrastructure - not as as a strip of pavement decorated with cool paintings on sheet metal. Urban planning, again, is part of the same infrastructure puzzle as mass transportation and roads.
As for attracting more people and more moderator load - it is often solved by appointing new board moderators. Nothing new here.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2019, 11:36:59 AM »

Perhaps it should remain hidden from guests.  Guests who develop enough of an interest in the AARoads Forum often eventually learn about the hidden boards anyway, such as any time someone says "Take it to Fictional Highways!"  But I also bring this up because, in my experience of browsing the Internet, which I must admit can never be 100% complete, I have found a LACK of message boards that appeal to ENTHUSIASTS about urbanism/urban design; rather, the boards I've found on planning/urban design topics tend to appeal more to those who work in the industry and are seeking practical career advice.  I would very much like to see a place for discussion of proposed projects, theoretical ideas, and critiques of existing parts of the built environment--the kind of stuff for enthusiasts--the kind of discussion that most people here engage in about roads.

The lack of other discussion boards surprises me, but also heightens my concerns. If AARoads hosts the only enthusiasts' discussion group on urban design, we might attract large numbers of people who want such a group but have no interest in roads. That would increase AARoads' administrative overhead, including but not limited to any hosting expenses not covered by advertising (mainly on the non-forum parts of AARoads, but guests see ads when they use the forum until they register), while detracting from AARoads' core mission.

I think it best for the AARoads forum to keep its focus on road enthusiasts (including. secondarily, their related interests in mass transit, etc.), and let the urban design enthusiasts create their own forum elsewhere.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2019, 12:17:31 PM »

Roads does not mean cars only. Bicycles use roads, and pedestrians usually walk along roads (on the side, obviously) unless there is a dedicated trail. I would say that one should be created, although I would ask jakeroot first.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2019, 01:07:34 PM »

The lack of other discussion boards surprises me, but also heightens my concerns. If AARoads hosts the only enthusiasts' discussion group on urban design, we might attract large numbers of people who want such a group but have no interest in roads. That would increase AARoads' administrative overhead, including but not limited to any hosting expenses not covered by advertising (mainly on the non-forum parts of AARoads, but guests see ads when they use the forum until they register), while detracting from AARoads' core mission.

But, if it was hidden from non-users, that wouldn't be of any concern. Anyone that would use this proposed board would have already had to register for AARoads, which is ostensibly a road-focused forum.



For everyone else, keep in mind that urban design is as much about the people using a space, as it is about the movement through a space. And really, don't many of our true interests lie in a subcategory of movement: roads? Urban design & urban planning exploits that oft-forgotten movement category: walking!
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2019, 01:39:25 PM »

But, if it was hidden from non-users, that wouldn't be of any concern. Anyone that would use this proposed board would have already had to register for AARoads, which is ostensibly a road-focused forum.

We hide Fictional Highways, yet somehow wound up with some people who seem to do nothing here but post in Fictional. Same could happen with a new urban design board.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2019, 01:44:00 PM »

Personally, I don't think this new board will be as problematic as some suggest wrt moderation. Hiding it like Fictional Highways or Mass Transit isn't a bad idea, though.

Nor do I understand the opposition to it—it seems like a failure of imagination to think that there is insufficient non-road related topics regarding urban planning. And even if that were the case (which I doubt), this would become a place to discuss these topics with the primary focus on the related issues, not the roads.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2019, 02:15:52 PM »

For the record, I would absolutely volunteer to moderate this board.


But, if it was hidden from non-users, that wouldn't be of any concern. Anyone that would use this proposed board would have already had to register for AARoads, which is ostensibly a road-focused forum.

We hide Fictional Highways, yet somehow wound up with some people who seem to do nothing here but post in Fictional. Same could happen with a new urban design board.

But are we really surprised they found it? A roads forum with a board where you can share your own ideas? What a concept!

There is no way that anyone is going to navigate to a forum with the word "roads" in the URL, expecting a major part of the site to be about the discussion of urban planning & design. Even if it wasn't hidden, we're talking about a few people at most. That could be its Achilles heel, but there seems to be enough users on the forum already who may enjoy its discussion, which is the primary goal here.

Nor do I understand the opposition to it—it seems like a failure of imagination to think that there is insufficient non-road related topics regarding urban planning. And even if that were the case (which I doubt), this would become a place to discuss these topics with the primary focus on the related issues, not the roads.

Of course, transportation is an integral part of urban planning & design. Pretty much every discussion about urban planning involves movement. I'm working with a local city in my area to redevelop a shopping center into a mixed-use innovation district, and we have to spend an enormous amount of time discussing how people move through the shopping center, whether its on foot, bike, scooter, in a bus or car, on a trolley, etc. It's a huge part of the process.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 02:59:00 PM by jakeroot »
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2019, 03:04:27 PM »

If you observe discussions among planners and New Urbanists, you will find so much debate that it can hardly be considered an "echo chamber."

You said there is a lack of online forums for such, so I don't know where these intense debates occur.  They certainly did not in my university's regional planning department where the mantras of the likes of "cars and single family homes = bad; transit = good" were to be accepted rather than considered.

These debates occur in books, journal articles, news articles, conferences, and lectures.  Here is one of my favorite examples of some high-level, theoretical debate regarding urbanism.  It's a debate between two well known and prominent figures in architecture and urban design: Andres Duany and Rem Koolhaas.  This is a very long series of videos, but if you can find the time to watch them and listen to their arguments, you can gain insight into how divided the design community really is over these challenging issues, and how many different ideas there are and have been on the subject.

The video was divided into segments of approximately 10 minutes, so here we go:


Personally, I find this fascinating, but I realize it won't interest everyone.  A similar, more recent discussion occurred between Andres Duany (one of the founders of the New Urbanist movement) and Charles Waldheim (one of the leading figures in the Landscape Urbanist movement), at one of the conferences of the Congress for the New Urbanism.  The video exists SOMEWHERE, but I haven't been able to find it in a long time.  If you want a further idea of where these two groups agree and disagree, you could pick up the book Landscape Urbanism and its Discontents, edited by Andres Duany and Emily Talen.

To give another perspective on how much debate there is on urban planning, Jane Jacobs challenged the whole field when she wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities in 1961, and her book has continued to spark debate ever since.  And if you want an easy reader that challenges the practices of urban planning in the latter half of the 20th Century, pick up Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck.

Finally, just browse the articles on Planetizen.com.  It isn't just people agreeing with each other; there's a whole range of differing opinions.  But that website is more of a news source for planning and urban design, not a discussion board, although the articles have comment sections.

All this should show how planning and urban design try to learn from their mistakes, yet how difficult it is to reach agreement on the best ways to move forward.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2019, 03:12:21 PM »

I like the idea. It's closely related to roads.

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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2019, 03:23:43 PM »

If you observe discussions among planners and New Urbanists, you will find so much debate that it can hardly be considered an "echo chamber."

You said there is a lack of online forums for such, so I don't know where these intense debates occur.  They certainly did not in my university's regional planning department where the mantras of the likes of "cars and single family homes = bad; transit = good" were to be accepted rather than considered.

These debates occur in books, journal articles, news articles, conferences, and lectures.  Here is one of my favorite examples of some high-level, theoretical debate regarding urbanism.  It's a debate between two well known and prominent figures in architecture and urban design: Andres Duany and Rem Koolhaas.  This is a very long series of videos, but if you can find the time to watch them and listen to their arguments, you can gain insight into how divided the design community really is over these challenging issues, and how many different ideas there are and have been on the subject.

The video was divided into segments of approximately 10 minutes, so here we go:


Personally, I find this fascinating, but I realize it won't interest everyone.  A similar, more recent discussion occurred between Andres Duany (one of the founders of the New Urbanist movement) and Charles Waldheim (one of the leading figures in the Landscape Urbanist movement), at one of the conferences of the Congress for the New Urbanism.  The video exists SOMEWHERE, but I haven't been able to find it in a long time.  If you want a further idea of where these two groups agree and disagree, you could pick up the book Landscape Urbanism and its Discontents, edited by Andres Duany and Emily Talen.

To give another perspective on how much debate there is on urban planning, Jane Jacobs challenged the whole field when she wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities in 1961, and her book has continued to spark debate ever since.  And if you want an easy reader that challenges the practices of urban planning in the latter half of the 20th Century, pick up Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck.

Finally, just browse the articles on Planetizen.com.  It isn't just people agreeing with each other; there's a whole range of differing opinions.  But that website is more of a news source for planning and urban design, not a discussion board, although the articles have comment sections.

All this should show how planning and urban design try to learn from their mistakes, yet how difficult it is to reach agreement on the best ways to move forward.
Looks like there are a variety of other forums where this discussion already takes place.

Devoting a whole board to such discussions seems like overkill to me.  A thread would seem to suffice.

(I actually have read some of Duany's stuff and own Jane Jacob's work...which is now over 50 years old, as you point out.)
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2019, 04:02:43 PM »

Devoting a whole board to such discussions seems like overkill to me.  A thread would seem to suffice.

I don't think you could reasonably cram the entire discussion of urban planning & urban design into a single thread, but maybe that might work to prove it as a viable topic worthy of its own board? That's how the "Traffic Control" board was formed, IIRC.

I like the idea. It's closely related to roads.

Indeed! Roads are a huge part of the urban design process. I am constantly designing roads in my proposals. As part of my current project, I have had to redesign a major intersection. Though I have not yet drawn any of the traffic lights or signs, I am proposing a half signal: traffic on the road with the raised crossing would have a stop sign, but the main road has a signal. This is because of a trolley that I have not yet modelled.

With a thread or board devoted to this topic, I could post about this intersection to get some feedback from other users. Only thing stopping me thus far has been the overall feeling that most users here don't care about this stuff, but I might be wrong, judging by the existence of this thread.

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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2019, 04:53:02 PM »

I'm in support of this existing in parallel with transit and will raise it.

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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2019, 05:10:27 PM »

I'm generally inclined to favor an urban planning and design board.  I reckon the possibilities of attracting participants who have no interest in roads or who are looking to start planning-related fights on the road-related boards to be fairly minimal, in line with the existing Transit and Fictional Highways boards.  It is true that in misc.transport.road days, many fights began with crossposts from misc.transport.urban-transit and alt.planning.urban, but all of those Usenet groups were unmoderated and there is no mechanism for crossposting on this forum.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2019, 07:47:57 PM »

I like this idea, as long as it doesn't end up attracting a bunch of people who hate cars.
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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2019, 08:07:42 PM »

I like this idea, as long as it doesn't end up attracting a bunch of people who hate cars.
Agreed.  I frequent streetsblog and ggwash as a reader because I am interested in issues involving streets and changes to speed architecture.  if a street I'm familiar with now has bike Lanes or bus lanes that's interesting.  I dislike the anti-car politics of those sites but they are often the only source of information about redesign for the cities that I've lived in: Los Angeles New York and Washington

it would be nice to incorporate some of that discussion here.

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stridentweasel

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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2019, 09:31:39 PM »

Indeed! Roads are a huge part of the urban design process. I am constantly designing roads in my proposals. As part of my current project, I have had to redesign a major intersection. Though I have not yet drawn any of the traffic lights or signs, I am proposing a half signal: traffic on the road with the raised crossing would have a stop sign, but the main road has a signal. This is because of a trolley that I have not yet modelled.

With a thread or board devoted to this topic, I could post about this intersection to get some feedback from other users. Only thing stopping me thus far has been the overall feeling that most users here don't care about this stuff, but I might be wrong, judging by the existence of this thread.

I'm really curious to see how this design works with the trolley and the stop sign/traffic signal configuration you describe.  I look forward to seeing more!
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"Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs," and I kind of like them.

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MantyMadTown

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Re: Urban Planning/Design under "Non-Road Boards"
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2019, 01:14:59 AM »

I like this idea, as long as it doesn't end up attracting a bunch of people who hate cars.

That's great of you to mention it, because I hate the anti-car people too. Outside the densest cities, people usually still need a car to get to at least some places, and although I think reducing car dependency is a good thing, it's very elitist when the people in dense cities look down upon those in less dense areas who need to travel by car. Part of my goal in urban planning is to figure out how to manage auto traffic while also making cities more pedestrian, bike, and transit-friendly. Hopefully auto traffic won't interfere with any of those things. But roads and highways are still important, because many people use them to get to places they otherwise couldn't reach by just walking, biking, and transit. Those anti-car people should just eff off from this forum, because roads are what this forum is all about.
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