A Conversation with Walkability Expert Jeff Speck


Jeff Speck is a nationally-recognized expert on building walk-friendly, people-oriented places. His book, Walkable City: How Downtown can Save America, One Step at a Time, is beloved by planners, leaders and residents of cities big and small; and his planning firm, Speck & Associates, works in communities across the country.

We recently invited Jeff onto our webcast to chat with Chuck Marohn about how to build slower, safer streets and why this goal is so important if we want to live in prosperous, successful cities. You can watch the recording on the right or listen to it as a podcast here.

Questions discussed include:

  • What have you seen change in our national dialogue about walkability and on the ground since publishing your book? (3:42)
  • Why and how did you make your book accessible to a broad, non-professional audience? (5:34)
  • Tell us about some of the innovative changes you're witnessing and taking part in in cities around America in terms of walkability. (7:25)
  • Why have you shifted your goals from eliminating suburban development to reforming it or building new urban development? (14:16)
  • What population density is required to support a walkable commercial center? (18:43)
  • Can bus rapid transit be a viable transit option as opposed to light rail? (22:30)
  • How do you make change around walkability issues when a majority of residents aren't politically engaged or involved in established government processes? (24:40)
  • How can we convince municipalities to convert one-way streets to two-way streets? (27:54) Has tactical urbanism ever been used to accomplish this? (30:50)
  • Why do we have to push a button to get a walk signal at some intersections? (33:08)
  • Do you see the growth of ride-hailing services as helpful or harmful to our cities? (37:10)
  • In your recent essay, 10 Rules for Cities Thinking about Automated Vehicles, you talked about the issue of induced demand, which goes counter to many of the autonomous vehicle boosters who argue that the proliferation of these cars will decrease auto usage overall. Walk us through your argument. (42:50)
  • What is the best practical argument to persuade local leaders to reduce parking requirements? How should we be approaching this issue in our communities? (50:55)
  • Many small towns seem set up for the worst kind of development. When you go into a small town hoping to change things, where do you start?  (55:44)

Listen to this conversation in audio format:

Learn more about Jeff Speck on his website and make sure to check out his book, Walkable City.