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Featured Resources on Physical Design & Walkability

The Top 100 Public Spaces  in the U.S. and Canada was compiled from a 2011 public vote by Planetizen and the Project for Public Spaces.  Places in Michigan that made the list include Detroit’s Campus Martius Park (#3), Shain Park in Birmingham (#38), and  Sleeping  Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (#98).

Grounds  for Change: Activating Vacant Land is an online interactive guide to using vacant land, covering such topics as physical community design, urban gardening, biotechnology, and more.

The Vermont Smart Growth Scorecard: A  Community Self-Assessment Tool assesses how prepared you are for the pressures of growth. The scorecard was published by Vermont Forum on Sprawl, a non-profit organization "devoted to preserving  Vermont’s unique landscape and quality of life while encouraging economic  vitality in community centers.”

Two checklists published by US EPA Smart Growth score your  community on "How bikeable is your community?” and  “How walkable is your community?”

Urban Bikeway Design Guide is an online interactive manual on innovative street  design in the U.S., published by the National  Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

The  "popsicle test” and the “Halloween test” tell if your neighborhood is kid-friendly and well-designed. From a blog by Kaid Benfield, Director, Sustainable Communities.

Michigan Complete Streets Coalition began in 2009 as a way to connect grassroots Complete Streets movements across the state. Today, the Coalition represents over 100 organizations, businesses and individuals, promoting statewide Complete Streets policy and supporting local communities' initiatives.

Walkability Toolkit is localized for Minnesota but will help you understand the value of Complete Streets and how it can be a part of your community.

What is your Walk Score? How does your neighborhood rank in walkability? This website calculates the “Walk Score” of your street address and exxplores the characteristics required for a walkable neighborhood.

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build strong communities. Founded in 1975, PPS embraces the insights of William (Holly) Whyte, a pioneer in understanding the way people use public spaces. PPS has become an internationally recognized center for best practices, information, and resources about placemaking.

Urban Land Institute: Placemaking/Public Realm Through the exploration of the issues surrounding quality places, the Urban Land Institute examines the intrinsic nature of what makes a great place and the revitalization of existing centers.

Southwest Solutions works to provide affordable housing and support services that reintegrate the mentally ill and homeless into the community. They recently redeveloped the Whitdel Buidling in southwest Detroit. What makes the Whitdel stand out is its connection to the arts and community.

"This Place Matters" Photo-Sharing Campaign The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company launched this web-based photo-sharing campaign to empower Americans to weigh in on places that they feel are architecturally or culturally significant.

Urban Strategies is a full-service planning and urban design firm based in Toronto, Canada. The firm works with a number of municipalities and clients in both the public and private sector to "shape and enhance urban places of all scales through strategic actions, holistic design and progressive policies.” is a public interest information exchange provided by Urban Insight for the urban planning, design, and development community. It is a one-stop source for urban planning news, commentary, interviews, event coverage, book reviews, announcements, jobs, consultant listings, training, and more.

Walkable and Livable Communities  Institute, Inc. is a non-profit training center focused on helping cities and towns become more walkable, bicycle-friendly, sustainable, socially engaging, and welcoming places.

Promoting Active Communities (PAC) has a free online assessment tool to help communities evaluate local policies, programs, and environments in order to identify ways to promote and support physical activity. Communities with high assessment scores are eligible for five designation award levels.

The League of American Bicyclists is a leading force in the movement to make more  American cities and towns bicycle friendly. Their Bicycle Friendly Communities  (BFC) program and interactive map ranks and scores bike-ability by state. They reward the country’s most bike-able communities with gold, silver, and bronze “Bicycle Friendly  Community” designations.

The Michigan Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism (MiCNU) has developed Form-Based Codes in 7 Steps. This guidebook is filled with information to prepare communities to move toward adopting a form-based code. The book’s introduction is available as a digital web-based resource and a full-color hard-copy version is available.

The Smart Growth Manual: 10 ways to help cities grow smarter by Andres Duany, one of the foremost architects and thinkers about "place" and the father of New Urbanism, with co-writers Jeff Speck and Mike Lydon. Includes 150 tips for building livable, sustainable cities.

The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts offers downloadable research on a variety of smart growth economy topics such as "Creating Jobs by Building Infrastructure for Bikes and Pedestrians."

The Institute of Transportation Engineers report, Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach, was developed in response to "widespread interest for improving both mobility choices and community character through a commitment to creating and enhancing walkable communities.” Buy a print copy or download a free PDF version.

“Complete Streets” legislation was enacted in Michigan in 2010 to give communities tools to create connected, walkable, and bicycle-friendly places.


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