Urban Village Planning Checklist | Planetizen blogs

I like the term urban villageor just town because they describe compact, mixed, pedestrian neighborhoods where it is easy to get around without a car. These can also be called transit-oriented development, new urbanism, location-efficient developmentand recently Neighborhoods 15 minutes away. Whatever their name, they help residents become healthy, wealthy and happy.

To understand urban villages, it is helpful to think in terms of the sheds (a variation on the concept of Watershed), the area accessible on foot. Although walking distances vary, people who have a car and a free parking space at their destination usually only walk five to ten minutes before switching to the car, and people without a car usually walk about twice that distance. ten to twenty minutes each way, before most ask for a ride or pay for public transit or a taxi.

Most walkway research has focused on transit-oriented development – ​​a neighborhood organized around a transit station – but the concept can be applied to other walkable communities, including hamlets rural areas, traditional small towns and large city districts. In a previous column, Urban villages: the key to sustainable community economic development, I defined ideal urban villages as having 2,000 to 4,000 homes within a half-mile walk of commonly used services, including a full-service grocery store, pharmacy, cafes, restaurants, schools and parks. The majority of the trips we make are for errands, so even people who have to drive to work can cut their vehicle travel and associated costs by a third or half by living in an urban village.

The table below defines some key urban village planning objectives.

Multimodal performance targets



Density. Number of people and jobs per area.

15+ residents or jobs per acre.

Land use mix.

Walk score greater than 70.

Commonly used services (multi-service grocery store, pharmacy, café/restaurant, elementary school, daycare, etc.)

Available within a 10 minute walk of most homes and job sites.

Parks and recreation

Most households are within a ten minute walk of local parks and recreation facilities

Various types of accommodation and prices.

At least 20% of housing is affordable for low-income households.

Work/housing balance.

At least 0.5 jobs per capita.


Sidewalks and crosswalks on 90% of the streets.


Cycling facilities for all ages and abilities on all major routes.

Pavement design speeds.

Most streets have traffic speeds of 30 mph or less.

Quality of public transport service.

Bus or train frequencies of more than 30 minutes on the main transport corridors.

Universal design.

All transportation facilities and services accommodate people with disabilities, handcarts, and other special needs.

Convenient and affordable car sharing.

Several car-sharing vehicles available within a 10-minute walk of most homes.

Complete street policies and streetscape.

All major streets accommodate diverse users and uses, with attractive designs and amenities including shade trees and other landscaping, and pedestrian-oriented street furniture.

Limited parking supply and efficient parking management.

Reduce or eliminate parking minimums, encourage landlords to effectively manage off-street parking supply.

Efficient sidewalk management

Manage space at the curb to promote uses with higher added value (deliveries and small errands).

Quality Public Domain

Public spaces (sidewalks, pathways, plazas, parks and public buildings) are well designed and managed for various community activities.

These features To allow people to reach common destinations without driving, but to realize potential infrastructure savings and reduce congestion, accidents and emissions, it is also necessary to provide incentives to use the most efficient mode for each trip: the walking and biking for local errands, public transport when traveling to other urban areas, and driving only when truly the most cost effective option for a particular trip.

Incentives to reduce car traffic

  • Low traffic speed, comprehensive pavement design and traffic calming.
  • Lanes reserved for buses and bike lanes, so non-automatic modes compete with driving.
  • Reduction of parking supply, parking pricing, unbundling and collection.
  • Programs to reduce home-work journeys.
  • Residential travel reduction programs.

Together, these features have synergistic effects: they create neighborhoods where residents own fewer vehicles, drive less, and rely more on affordable and resource-efficient modes, as illustrated below. As a result, residents save money, are more likely to meet their physical activity goals, have more economic and social opportunities, spend less time commuting, and impose lower costs on their community. A well-planned urban village is the key to health, wealth, wisdom and generosity.

VMT per capita and emissions by type of neighborhood

What do you think? Did I miss some key features of urban village planning?

Information resources

AARP and CNU (2021), Enabling Better Places: A Handbook for Better NeighborhoodsAmerican Association of Retirees.

Kristin N. Agnello (2020), Child in the City: Planning Communities for Children and Their FamiliesPlassurban.

Kristin N. Agnello (2018), From Zero to 100: Planning for an Aging PopulationPlassurban.

Boston (2021), Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Points SystemCity of Boston.

CALTRANS (2014), Main Street, California: A Guide to Improving the Vitality of Communities and TransportationCalifornia Department of Transportation.

CIVITAS is an initiative supported by the European Commission to help introduce sustainable urban transport strategies.

Andrés Duany and Robert Steuteville (2021), Define the city in 15 minutespublic place.

Gehl Architects (2010), Our cities ourselves: 10 principles for transport in urban lifeInstitute for Transport and Development Policy.

Complete streets (www.completestreets.org) is a campaign to promote road designs that efficiently accommodate multiple modes of transportation and support local planning goals.

GreenTRIP is a certification program for new residential and mixed-use developments that implements transportation and parking management strategies, similar to LEED building certification.

Knight Franck (2020), Walkability and Mixed Use – Creating Valuable and Healthy CommunitiesThe Prince’s Foundation.

NACTO (2012), The Urban Street Design GuideNational Association of Municipal Transportation Officials.

NACTO (2020), City limits: setting safe speed limits on city streetsNational Association of Municipal Transportation Officials.

Oh the urbanity. This YouTube channel includes exceptional short videos that discuss and illustrate key concepts in urban planning.

Project for public spaces works to create and sustain public places that build communities.

San Francisco TDM Tooland Step-by-step instructions for creating a TDM planprovide guidance to transportation planners and engineers, developers and building managers to encourage more efficient transportation, for a variety of land use types and conditions.

Tool for generating urban space allocation optionsdeveloped by the Center for Transport Studies at University College London for the European Union AFTER (Multimodal Optimization of Road Space in Europe) helps to redesign, reallocate or regulate street space to meet specific EU policy objectives, including adapting various modes, reducing pollution emissions and supporting the local economic development.

Public life measurement tools by the Gehl Institute make it possible to measure the use of public spaces and to better understand the relationships between these spaces and the activities that take place there.