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Donald Appleyard was a professor of Urban Design at the University of California, Berkeley. During his career he pursued a strong interest in the livability of cities and neighborhoods, particularly upon streets. In particular, he studied the social effects of traffic and neighborhood layout, and devised sensitive tools for the analysis of peoples' environmental perceptions.

In a groundbreaking study [streetfilms.org] conducted in 1969, Donald Appleyard provided the first emperical evidence of the impact of traffic on neighborhood streets. In particular, he investigated 3 different streets in San Francisco that were chosen to be as identical as possible in every dimension except for one - the amount of traffic on each street. The study was able to show that just the mere presence of cars, with their implied aspects of danger, noise and pollution, crushes the quality of life in neighborhoods.

As a way of investigation, Donals Appleyard used various visual graphics to both gather data as well as bring his results across. For instance, one chart conveys the social interactions on the 3 different streets, with each line denoting a unique connection between one person on the street and another. There are much fewer lines on the heavily traffic street as opposed to the moderate or the light traffic street, which clearly has a lot more interconnections. This chart also includes clusters of little dots that indicate where people physically gather. So it shows how on the heavily traffic street, there are a much smaller number of dots and there are only a handful of places where people would gather on their street.

Another chart plotted peoples' perception of their "home territory" on the 3 different streets. On the heavily traffic street, residents drew red rectangles which shows their apartment, or in some case, their whole building, as being their home territory. In contrast, on the lightly traffic street, most of the people are defining their entire street as their home territory, with some people highlighting their building or a slightly larger area.

Another part of the survey asked residents to freely draw an image of their street. On the heavily traffic street, they just drew the entirety of the street with very little in the way of details. In the moderately traffic street, people start drawing more details about the specific buildings. In the lightly traffic street, people start including details of buildings, plantings, and so on.

Does this use of mapping and visualization as a research medium sparked your interest? Watch a short documentary below, including some nicely updated versions of the maps.

Maybe this could be combined with Paint Attack?


coolest post of the month. The gathering points are like the theory of the "non-places". Heavy traffic streets are no longer a place where to leave, they became a "non-place".

Wed 10 Nov 2010 at 10:10 PM

This post is from Bruce Appleyard appleyard1@gmail.com

First, I want to thank you all for your interest in my father's research and in the need to continue working to recapture and complete our streets for all!
Second, as I am being asked for related articles I wanted to direct you to the following website where you can gain immediate access to them (just click on my name/picture)


Of particular interest may be an article presenting a study looking specifically at the street livability needs of schoolchildren, using related but original methods to those used in Livable Streets.

Finally, as I am in the midst of finishing the Second Edition of Livable Streets, I am interested in your thoughts.
(For more information, here is the link to the relevant Routledge Press website: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415610643)

Livable Streets was a powerful, paradigm shifting work, which lives on in spite of the fact my father was killed by a speeding drunk driver in 1982, a year after it was last published.

And while Livable Streets provided the foundational arguments for recapturing and completing our streets for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, as well as residents, much work still needs to be done.

Here are some questions to consider:

What can the 2nd edition of Livable Street help you with?

What are the major barriers to our creating livable streets (institutional, financial, legal, etc.)?

Please share with me stories outlining how these or other barriers stopped a project that would have improved street livability, please outline the issues that got in the way.

Or, alternatively, please share with me a story about how you or others overcame barriers like these to improve street livability.

What do you see as the newly emerging threats to street livability?

For example, many are touting driver-less cars for their ability to dramatically increase capacity on freeways (3-4 times, by some estimates) , but few seem to be thinking about what happens when you pour all that extra traffic onto community streets.

I look forward to hearing from you and to being in touch!
Best regards,
Bruce S. Appleyard
Doctoral Candidate
City & Regional Planning
UC Berkeley
Cell: 503.810.7249
Office: 510.839.1742 ext. 128

Thu 11 Nov 2010 at 5:45 AM

As someone who lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, we have firsthand experienced what happens when car traffic is limited on a street. For a one block stretch of Lincoln Avenue (just south of Lawrence), the traffic was converted to being one way, with parking limited to one side of the street. A connecting sidestreet was blocked off and made into a European-style brick-laid plaza with a performance stage.

The resulting impact on the community has been fantastic. People gather all the time on this stretch of Lincoln Avenue. Previously it was a busy car-crazy street. Now there is great community with people in the plaza and on the sidewalks enjoying the neighborhood and local shops.

Less cars is indeed a wonderful thing.

Tue 16 Nov 2010 at 5:40 PM
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