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Sam Staley is Associate Director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
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Chinese urbanism and the scale of development

SHANGHAI, CHINA--I've been a fan of New Urbanism for several years, but I've always considered myself an urban "pluralist"--someone who doesn't believe there is an "objective" or general urban form that is persistently successful over long periods of time. Indeed, Bob Bruegmann's thesis in Sprawl: A Compact History, suggests that urban form changes and evolves over time, although generally in a less dense direction.

Reading, Writing, And Planning: Urbanism In High School

The high school curriculum overlooks a great many subjects, so we could go on at length pointing out its ironies and shortcomings. But the topic at hand happens to be urban planning, so let's stick with that.

Communist China's GPS congestion management capitalism

BEIJING, 9 MAY 2007--Anyone questioning China's potential to become the dominant player in the 21st century and beyond need look no further than the Beijing Transportation Information Center. The entrepreneurial leader of the center, Mr. WANG gang, has lead the development of the most innovative system for managing traffic congestion I've seen, putting U.S. systems to shame and leapfrogging over London's cutting edge signal coordinatin system. Rather than try to regulate congestion by limiting automobile use, they have figured out a way to use technology to make its use more efficient.

The Urban Freeway Conundrum

Planners regret them, neighbors dislike them, and they gobble up valuable real estate in the center city. The downtown expressway is a much-disliked reality in most American cities. Now's the time to do something about them.

Beijing's traffic nightmare and public transit

BEIJING--When I first learned that I wouldn't be able to rent a car in Beijing, I was disappointed. That's how I usually break away from the business "bubble" to learn something about a city. But, it didn't take more than an hour to realize that I was better off with a local driver than tackling it myself.  Driving habits, combined with roads choking with pedestrians, cars, buses, and taxis, convinced me I needed to leave the driving to a "pro".

Atlantic Yards and the Perils of Community Benefit Agreements

Just east of downtown Brooklyn on a 22 acre site Forest City Ratner is proposing a mega-project that would transform the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Vanderbilt rail yards and a few adjacent blocks into 6,430 units of housing, 336,000 feet of office space, 247,000 feet of retail space, a hotel and an arena that would be the new home of the NBA New Jersey Nets. Like almost any mega-project proposed in a dense city like New York, Atlantic Yards is raising the ire of many. In this case, however, the names and roles of the usual suspects have changed. At least some view the developer as a savior and champion of the inner city poor, while many of the project’s opponents are viewed as reactionary elites only concerned about the potential loss of their parking spaces. This reversal of protagonists is due in large part to the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) negotiated between the developer and several community groups.

Smart Growth, Bad Air

Locating residential development closer to city centers comes with a price: increased exposure to air pollutants.

Who’s Watching the Beach?

It’s not just those buff lifeguards.  Most coastal and Great Lakes states have a coastal zone management program.  And not only are the coastal zone managers watching the beach, they are watching what’s being built in their communities.  In fact, in recent interviews of coastal zone managers, 56 out of 58 said growth was the top pressure on coastal resources in their state.   

Comfort Versus Speed


Most people that I know want to act responsibly, but when it comes to daily travel decisions they often choose driving over more resource-efficient but less comfortable and convenient alternative modes, such as walking, cycling and public transportation. As a result, they feel guilty, and communities suffer from problems such as congestion, infrastructure costs, consumer costs, accidents, energy consumption, and pollution emissions.

Pulling Up Stakes On The 'Good Old Days'

The 1950’s and 1960’s were boom times for planning and building in the northeastern United States. Projects were designed and built seemingly overnight. For those who idolize Edmund Bacon (Philadelphia's director of city planning from 1949 to 1970) and Robert Moses (New York City’s master builder from 1924 to 1968), that was the time to plan and design and implement and build --quickly.

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