Urban Moneyball for Walkability

Thought-provoking episode of Christopher Lydon’s Open Source podcast, featuring Mayor Walsh’s chief of staff Daniel Arrigg Koh among others, about the city’s ambitious move toward a “Moneyball” statistical/evidence-based approached to government. There are benefits as well as perils to this approach–we need to make sure we measure the right things, protect against “gaming” the system, and not lose sight of the forest for the trees (or, in this case, for micro-level data). The opportunities to promote walkability through a data driven approach are manifold and exciting, however, and better collection and use of data is key to the Vision Zero Initiative.

We recommend the entire episode which repeatedly touches on issues of transportation, walkability, density, and vibrant neighborhoods, but if you only have a minute, check out this snippet from city planner Jeff Speck, Boston-area resident and author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, who called in to highlight the importance of walkability metrics.

(download link)

Also of interest is a somewhat contrary perspective on the “knowledge economy” and its ill impacts on neighborhood character from the Baffler’s John Summers, who bemoans the transformation of Central Square later in the episode, expressing the general sentiment of his article The People’s Republic of Zuckerstan.