≡ Menu

Bike Share: Not just for the mega cities

Photo By: buba69

When you go to New York City, Chicago,  Boston, Washington D.C. or even Minneapolis you almost expect to see a vast array of transportation choices.  These big cities have the density to support programs like bike share.  They also usually have the staff to dedicate to the program’s success.

Smaller cities often do not have the resources to implement these ‘extra’ programs.  Many are auto-centric and are just trying to survive.  The thought of global competitiveness is often lost to the worry over pension benefits, crumbling infrastructure, and increasing the tax base.

Some small to medium sized cities are realizing that there are huge benefits to providing transportation alternatives.  With bike share programs, residents and visitors now have a low(er)-cost option to driving.  It’s good for the environment, people are getting a little exercise and there are proven economic benefits.

Cities like Madison, WI, Boulder, CO, and Chattanooga, TN have already started their programs.  Places like Columbus, Ohio are expected to roll out their program at the end of July.  Albany, NY, Providence, RI, and the Sacramento Region have studied the feasibility of bike share and just need that extra financial or political push to get started.

It may take some time but bike share programs are catching on and we should expect to see more of them in the future.  They don’t replace the automobile; they simply provide an alternative and reduce the physical stress on our roadways.  Oh, and they are fun and convenient!


If you are a land-use attorney, a staunch follower of the Supreme Court, or just your average planning geek (like me) then you have heard of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Koontz vs. St. John’s River Water Management District case.  You are comparing it to Nollan and Dolan and throwing around terms like “essential nexus” and “rough proportionality”.  You know that permit denials from municipalities are now subject to a higher level of scrutiny.

If you are really good, you are asking what effect the decision will have on the environmental review process and who will bear the additional costs associated with the higher scrutiny.  You’re wondering if municipalities are going to lose the freedom to have ‘flexible’ zoning in order to avoid litigation.

On the other hand, if you are a developer, municipal planner, or permitting agency that just doesn’t have time to keep up with it all  OR if you hear ‘Nollan’ and think Nolan Ryan or ‘Koontz’ and are looking for the next mass produced paperback, there is an opportunity to get the quick and dirty summary.  The American Planning Association is hosting a webinar on July 17th from 4:00-5:30pm to discuss the case and what it means and how to comply with the Court’s mandate.  If you are involved in land-use decisions or permitting it would be worthwhile to see if your day to day operations are going to be impacted.

It’s a bit pricey, so invite your friends.  Each registration includes unlimited attendees.

What does this have to do with walkable neighborhoods?  A lot.  It’s a major land-use decision and walkability can be affected by these decisions.  The slightest change in mindset,  municipal priority, or funding  can mean the difference between sidewalks being installed or not.  Additional financial burdens are going to have to come out of municipal budgets and some project(s) is going to have to be deferred to balance the books.  As we all know, sidewalks, street trees, trails, and public art are often easy targets.

If you are an AICP and in need of those pesky law Certification Maintenance credits, this webinar has you covered.


Recent Lofts For Sale In Chicago

Editor’s Note: Apologies to those that received this twice by email. This accidentally posted earlier than intended…

It is no accident that many of America’s richest and most famous celebrities have been snapping up trendy loft properties left, right and center in recent years; after all, loft property with its abundant natural light, high ceilings, city views and extremely spacious feel, affords buyers one of the best and most unique living environments available. If you are looking for new or recently constructed lofts for sale in Chicago so that you and your family can enjoy this style of living then hopefully you will find the following list of currently available lofts both useful and helpful.

Even if some of these lofts come off the market, we’ve included links below to help you find other units in the same development (if they have a website)

The Edge Lofts and Tower, Loft 608, 210 S Des Plaines St, Near West Side, Chicago, IL 60661

For a first time couple/single buyer on a small budget this sunny loft property with 575 sf is a great potential buy with its low price tag of just under $174 K. The building is professionally managed and the location offers some fantastic restaurants and nightlife, particularly in the nearby Greek Town.

Union Lofts, Loft 113, 3500 S Sangamon St, Bridgeport, Chicago, IL 60609

Newly listed on the market and priced at $215 K is this tremendous 6 room loft situated in the Bridgeport area. It has a distinctive urban feel with exposed brick. It has concrete between the floor and the ceiling so it is perfect for any potential buyer who doesn’t want noise from neighbors and to enjoy music, etc at their own volume.

Cinema Lofts, Loft 608, 1635 W Belmont Ave W, Lake View, Chicago, IL 60657

Listed at $269.9 K this stylish loft in the sought after Lake View community area of the North of Chicago has so much to offer, not least a real taste of luxury! With a beautifully fitted granite kitchen that comes complete with a 42 inch espresso cabinetry as well as a doorman and gym access included in the building, this is a fantastic option.

Lakewood Lofts, Loft 4g, 3133 N Lakewood Ave, Lake View, Chicago, IL 60657

For more upmarket buyers the incredible loft newly listed in the Lake View area of the city is an amazing property that boasts 15′ floor-to-ceiling windows, a gigantic private deck and the highest quality fittings/installations available anywhere. It is expensive at an asking price of $685 K, however, this loft is certainly a case of you get what you pay for!

Riverbend Lofts, Loft 312, 2614 N Clybourn Ave, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL 60614

At the lower end of the market in terms of price (199.9 K) this loft is definitely worth considering for anyone looking for a loft on a budget. It is fairly spacious (1050 sf ) for a loft in this price range and has an excellent average ceiling height of 13 ft.

Loft 1w, 319 W Erie St, Near North – Old Town, Chicago, IL 60654

If you are looking to be blown away by an exceptional loft property that would make you the envy of all home owners across the whole of Chicago then this is one you have to see. It sits at the very top of the price scale at 1199 K and has its own range of rare luxuries including a theater room and a sauna/steam room. It was designed by the renowned Patrizio Fradiani and is a must-see if you are able to operate at this price level.

Metropolitan Place, Loft 815, 130 S Canal St, Near West Side, Chicago, IL 60606

This larger loft property, also in the Near West Side, offers a good amount of space (1520 sf) at a seriously competitive price ($370 K) considering the quality of the conversion. Key features include granite flooring, a stunning European walk through shower and SS Viking appliances. A tremendous loft for a family or couple looking for extra space in a tremendous metropolitan location.

Sanctuary On Superior, Loft 5, 1658 W Superior St, West Town, Chicago, IL 60622

Situated in the West Town this stunning and completely unique renovated loft, which was once a Historic Church, simply has to be viewed. With vast space (1790 sf) including some ceilings as high as 15 ft plus granite counters, choir gallery moldings and huge rooms this represents a rare opportunity, particularly at its competitive price of $390 K.

Dairy Commons, Loft t, 2828 N Talman Ave, Avondale, Chicago, IL 60618

In the diverse Avondale community area sits this splendid, spacious loft-like town home which is on the market at $199 K. Extremely spacious at 2430 sf, along with nice features like a marble foyer and slate floors, this is very well priced for what’s on offer.

745 Dickens Condos, Loft 1, 745 W Dickens Ave, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL 60614

Just steps away from the 13 acre Oz Park, this vintage low-rise loft with sensational city views and a wood burning fireplace as the centerpiece in the living-room is on the market at $450 K, newly listed in the first week of July.

Thomas Schoolhouse, Loft d1, 1445 W Belden Ave, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL 60614

In perfect move-in condition with fresh coats of paint on the wall this terrific property, set over 3 floors, is perfect for anyone looking to move in soon. At $370 K, with $34 K already taken off the asking price, it is seriously good value for any family looking to get a high-class, sophisticated loft without paying over the odds.

Wabash Flats, Loft 301, 1243 S Wabash Ave, Loop, Chicago, IL 60605

For real traditional loft living, this great property in the South Loop area of the city is hard to beat! Priced at $329 K with 14′ timber ceilings, a beautiful kitchen in maple colors and its own private balcony with superb city views, it is definitely worth checking out.

565 Quincy, Loft 1207, 565 W Quincy St, Loop, Chicago, IL 60661

This high-rise loft apartment (7+ floors) provides spectacular views from its huge windows. Only on the market for 2 weeks as of the start of July this is likely to be snapped up fast. Has tremendous facilities within the building including a theater, bowling lanes and ping-pong. Priced at $339.9 K for 1100 sf, this is good value for the quality of loft on offer.

Museum Park Lofts, Loft 1213, 125 E 13Th St, Near South Side, Chicago, IL 60605

Newly listed at $415 K, this stunning museum park loft with its incredible vistas of the city and clean, stylish interior is one of the best on the market. At 1312 sf, there is plenty of space for living and huge amount of natural light coming in from the large well-placed windows.

If anyone has more lofts to add, let us know in the comments below so we can update this post.


A View of The High Line Park in New York City

Wouldn’t it be nice to hang out here with these folks on The High Line in New York? I believe this was an old railway converted to a linear park running through the city. Absolutely amazing!


Telephone Pole in Middle of Louisville Curb Ramp

I’m not sure, do you think this is ADA compliant?? :)

I’ve seen some pretty bad examples of telephone poles in the middle of sidewalks, but I think this one takes the cake! According to the photographer, this was taken in Louisville, Kentucky. I certainly hope this has been fixed by now.


Houston Light Rail Train

Houston Light Rail Train Downtown

A light rail tram travels down Main Street in Downtown Houston, Texas. Photo by Ed Schipul.

Capital Village in Rancho Cordova, CA

Capital Village - Rancho Cordova, CAI was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and the article appeared in yesterday’s Real Estate section. The article is titled “A Walker’s Guide to Home Buying.” Here is the paragraph to which I contributed:

“A walkable neighborhood doesn’t necessarily have to be in the city center. And it doesn’t have to be more expensive. Eric Fredericks decided in September that, with the housing tax credit, it made more sense to buy than to keep renting. Planning on kids, he and his wife wanted a three-bedroom house in Sacramento, Calif. “We never considered living in suburbia,” he says. But they found a new development in a suburb called Rancho Cordova organized around a main street, with stores and restaurants. Their 2009 house is six inches away from the house next door and a couple of blocks from the town center. It cost $240,000, half what he says he would have paid for a comparable place downtown.”

You can read more of the article here.

I really enjoyed being featured as the “human element” of the article. I think if Ms. Keates had mentioned that I was an urban planner or walkability consultant, then the message probably would not be as effective. I hope the article will plant a seed in the mind of someone that may not have thought about living in a walkable neighborhood before, but might now consider it an important factor in their future moving decisions.

The article didn’t mention the name of my neighborhood, Capital Village (pictured above), or that we live within a short walk of my wife Sarah’s office. I am going to write more about Capital Village in weeks to come.

A special thanks to Ms. Keates for writing an excellent article.


Creating Walkable Communities Presentation

Espanola Way in Miami Beach, Florida

Troy, Ohio Town SquareMy long hiatus from posting on this website has finally come to an end. I have had some recent big life changes: I got married, bought a house in a New Urbanist-style neighborhood in Rancho Cordova, CA, and have been going full-speed ahead working to bring true high-speed rail to California. I have also been working on some new business ventures that have taken up quite a bit of my free time.  Those of you reading this post on the website may notice that it’s undergone some major changes too (please pardon the dust, I am still putting the finishing touches on the layout and content).

Despite all of this, I am probably just as active as ever in promoting walk- and bike-friendly communities. Locally, I have had the privilege (and enjoyment) to serve as the president of WALKSacramento, a fantastic regionally-focused non-profit organization. A couple weeks ago, I led a workshop in Troy, Ohio to train planners and engineers how to create walkable communities. That evening, I also gave a presentation to the general public and elected officials of Troy.

I promised the workshop and presentation participants that I would share my slides on my website following the workshop. I am providing the slides in PPTX format, but if you’d like it in another format, feel free to contact me (note the PDF version is just as large).

Troy Presentation [PPTX]

One thing that I did not mention during the presentations is that all but a couple of photos I used are my own. I put most of my photos up on my public Flickr account and anyone is free to use them provided they give credit. You can access my Flickr account here. I’ve made over 8,000 of my photos public with several thousand more to come.

I want to again thank the presentation sponsors: Troy Community Works, the Miami Valley Chapter of APA Ohio, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, and the Miami River Foods Project. A special thanks to the City of Troy for providing the projector and the replacement projector, and the Hayner Cultural Center for providing such a great venue.

If anyone has any questions about particular slides or has any follow up questions, feel free to contact me at eric (@) neighborhoods (dot )org.


Photos from the Semi Truckers’ CARB Protest

Last Friday, Sacramento was quite busy for a change. Most Fridays in Sacramento are pretty quiet now that state workers and other companies have gone to Furlough Fridays. However, last Friday near lunch time was the worst traffic congestion I have seen since living here. The reasons: a constant stream of semi trucks rounding the State Capitol protesting the California Air Resources Board (CARB), another Tea Party protest, and protest about water rights.

I snapped some photos with my smartphone of the line of trucks going around the Capitol. Most of them had signs to “Dump CARB and give 8,500 teachers jobs.” While giving jobs to teachers is laudable, eliminating air quality protection agencies is not. Obviously, they are upset about CARB’s upcoming regulations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions established by AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. I am sure it will affect their business, however, climate change is happening, it is probably due to manmade pollution, and doing nothing could be at our peril. So, while I sympathize with truck drivers about the economic impacts of the regulations, status quo is not acceptable.

Truckers Clog L Street in Downtown Sacramento

Truckers Clog L Street in Downtown Sacramento

Truckers Also Clog N Street in Downtown Sacramento

Truckers Also Clog N Street in Downtown Sacramento

I also was asked if I wanted my photo taken with the Sacramento PD. How could I resist?

Me with the Sacramento PD

Me with the Sacramento PD

More photos (including larger sizes) of this CARB protest available in the photo gallery.


My Top 20 Favorite Large US Cities: 5 through 1

Finally, the wait is over for my Top 5 favorite large US cities.

I had no idea the list would garner as much attention as it has. I need to reiterate the point that this is NOT a list of the most walkable cities (although I plan on doing one of those down the road too). You can probably think of this list as “if someone forced me to live in one of these cities, which would I be happiest in.” Which is why, as people have pointed out, I have more west coast cities on this list than southern cities. A lot of that has to do with the natural environment, the tolerance of people, etcetera. Of course, the biggest factor in my list is walkability, so I think my most walkable and my favorite lists would be fairly similar.

Also, I gave some more thought to my list, and I really should have included New Orleans in my Top 20, maybe as number 20. I have not been there post-Katrina, but when I thought about some of the great neighborhoods I’ve visited there, I definitely overlooked it the first time. Another city that I’d love to visit again is Memphis. I think it also has potential to be in my Top 20.

Now, on with the Top 5!

Midtown Sacramento during a Second Saturday Art Walk

Midtown Sacramento during a Second Saturday Art Walk

5. Sacramento, CA – This is probably the biggest shock to most people reading this list, but hey, I have to include the place I live right? And since a large percentage of Americans have never been here, how can they argue? Well, there are certainly plenty of reasons to include Sacramento in the Top 5, and not just because it’s located very close to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Napa Valley. First, many probably don’t know that Sacramento has a Mediterranean climate—hot, dry summers, and mild (to cool), wet winters… with very little humidity! Second, Sacramento is the most racially integrated city in the US. We have one of the best, if not the best, urban tree canopies in all of the United States. We’re also at the epicenter of a lot of national movements like smart growth and complete streets (it certainly helps to be the capital city of a progressive state sometimes). In terms of walkability, I think my neighborhood, Midtown, is one of the best in the United States. It’s like living in a giant small town–I can’t go anywhere without seeing someone I know. There are several other great neighborhoods that border Midtown. Rather than go on and on about Sacramento, I will just give you an example. Our “Main Street” through town, J Street, is not an ideal street for walking and biking compared to its parallel streets. But nevertheless, I could walk about 53 blocks straight down J Street and most every block I’d consider to be pretty walkable. If not for a few interruptions in the grid, I could probably do that on about 10 other streets as well. I don’t feel I’d be able to do that in most other cities. For the bicyclists out there, I’ve heard that we’re the only city in America that has bike lanes on BOTH sides of one way streets, and we have a lot of bike lanes. We also have one of the best bike paths in all of America, the 36-mile path along the American River is truly amazing. Sacramento Photos

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate Sculpture in Millennium Park - Chicago, IL

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate Sculpture in Millennium Park - Chicago, IL

4. Chicago, IL – Chicago has forever been near the very top of my favorite American cities. I think it has the best skyline of all US cities, and the contrast with the beautiful Lake Michigan is spectacular. Thanks to Daniel Burnham, much of the Chicago lakefront is now parks and open space, including the awe-inspiring Millennium Park. Chicago has undergone a renaissance of sorts the last 15 years, with the crime-ridden public housing being torn down and replaced yuppie luxury housing (although there are some great projects that include displaced families). Every time I go back, there are more restaurants with outdoor seating, more bike lanes and cyclists, and more landscaping and greening. However, Chicago slipped a bit for me when I visited last summer. I got tired of dealing with the barriers to walking (including the most pushy and rude street people I’ve ever encountered). I also was disappointed with the transit system… though disappointment is understandable with the massive cutbacks the CTA has faced. The system is antiquated and in severe need of an update. I also do not miss those brutal Illinois winters or humid summers either. Overall, Chicago is a great city… and the best sports city in the world! Chicago Photos

Times Square - New York, NY

Times Square - New York, NY

3. New York, NY – I don’t think I need to write a novel about this magnificent city. I am amazed every time I go there how lively it is all 24 hours of the day. It’s also a very clean city. There are just a few reasons why it is not my number one city: 1) the weather 2) not green enough 3) insanely expensive 4) sometimes a bit too urban for my taste 5) It lacks the surrounding natural beauty of some other cities on this list. My fiancé and I both sometimes dream of living here, if only for a few years. Like most of these other cities, I can’t wait for the chance to go back again. New York City Photos

Streetcar Stop at Portland State University - Portland, OR

Streetcar Stop at Portland State University - Portland, OR

2. Portland, OR – I have a serious crush on the city of Portland since my first visit last fall. In fact, it is number one on our places to move to if we left Sacramento. It’s more urban than I expected considering its population. To keep this short, I’m going to list 10 things I absolutely loved about it (not at all exhaustive): 1) So lush and green 2) short block sizes 3) the most breweries per capita of any US city 4) the streetcar, aerial tram, and free transit in the central core 5) the South Park Blocks at Portland State 6) the “lofty” Pearl District 7) the “small-townie” Alphabet District and Trendy Third 8.) Mount Hood looming over the city 9) the little ethnic food vendor stands all over downtown 10) Belmont Station and the funky Voodoo Doughnuts. That’s enough for you to get a flavor for why I love Portland. Portland Photos

So that leaves us with just one more city…

The Painted Ladies at Alamo Square - San Francisco, CA

The Painted Ladies at Alamo Square - San Francisco, CA

1. San Francisco, CA – With apologies to New Orleans and a few other cities, San Francisco is definitely the most unique city in the United States. Every time I go to San Francisco, and I’ve been there maybe 25 times now, it still takes my breath away. I’m always discovering new neighborhoods, each with their different or often funky character and I just cannot put away my camera. It’s certainly a challenging city from a pedestrian and bicyclist standpoint at times–the hills of San Francisco are ridiculously steep at times and vehicular traffic is quite hostile–but you could walk for days around the city non-stop and still not see all the wonderful neighborhoods it has to offer. It also rivals Seattle in terms of natural beauty. The architecture is uniquely distinctive, and it remains that way through most of the city, so you always know you’re in San Francisco. In terms of destinations to walk to and density throughout the city, only New York City can rival it. The public transit leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s much better than most American cities. There is one major reason why I don’t live there right now, and that’s the weather. I like heat in the summertime and I don’t like frequent foggy days. But if I want to have a fun night out on the town with friends, or grab some great ethnic food, you’ll find me in San Francisco. Like Tony Bennett, I leave a piece of my heart there each time I leave. San Francisco Photos

And there you have it. Hope you enjoyed the list. It took a lot more work than I imagined. Here is a recap of the list articles:

My Top 20 Favorite Large US Cities: Intro and 20 through 16

My Top 20 Favorite Large US Cities: 15 through 11

My Top 20 Favorite Large US Cities: 10 through 6