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Jeff Speck’s Walkable City TED Talk

If you haven't already read Jeff Speck's recent book Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, you really should do so. In the meantime, Speck has given a lively, insightful TED talk summarizing three arguments for building more walkable cities.

In this talk, he makes three discrete arguments for designing and building more walkable communities: walkable communities leave people with more disposable income to spend, strengthening the local economy; walkable communities reduce obesity and disease in their residents; and walkable communities help protect the environment.

Speck is a designer by training and an urban planner by trade and was the co-author, with Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, of the landmark book Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.

That book was a scathing critique of postwar suburban sprawl and helped launched the "new urbanist" movement encouraging a return to more traditional neighbourhood design. Walkable City, in contrast, is more a feisty yet pragmatic guide for cities looking to undo the damage caused by 70 years of trying to twist themselves inside-out to accommodate fast, easy driving.

Speck draws on his various experiences working with cities and marshals a compelling set of evidence and arguments from urban planning, economics, public health and demographics to explain why – and how – cities should focus first and foremost on being walkable, not driveable.