Sidewalk Design Parameters

If you are like most people you probably haven’t ever considered how to best design a sidewalk; for many people, its as simple as asking, “is there one or not”. But if you are like me, you understand that sidewalk design can play a huge role in the vibrancy of street-level activity, allowing businesses to […]

Engineers Driving us Crazy

The urban experience is helped or hindered by elements that are ulitmately the responsibility of Civil Engineers. Despite this obvious statement, many of the urban form frustrations we experience day to day in our travels about our neighbourhoods or cities were decisions made by engineers or those in municipal or utility organizations that act under the authority of engineers


The planners out there might get upset to know that an engineer has crashed their party, then again, who knows, maybe they’ll be happy to have me along. Fifty years ago, Jane Jacobs, an activist, critic, author and urbanist,  wrote the seminal book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. This is the first book to be read […]

A Changed World

Communities around North America are waking up to a changed world. Our expectation for continuous improvement of the systems that support our lifestyles, transportation choices and patterns of housing has been shaken. Budget cuts are forcing communities and governments to reconsider priorities; in Washington State a new user fee was introduced for users of recreation trails, to […]

Transit Resiliency

I am a big advocate of having alternative modes of transport, after all motor vehicles are an expensive* and dirty mode of transport that we have historically given too much influence to in the design of our cities. I believe that the value of a dwelling, particularly in an urban setting, is relative to its […]

Food Carts take on Abandoned Asphalt

Sometimes the best solutions to urban problems are the simplest. Portland, Oregon is allowing unused parking space to be used for food vendors, increasing economic activity in otherwise dead spaces. “Outside of downtown, carts are forming neighborhood-oriented clusters” on vacant parking lots, McInelly points out. “At SERA we have promoted food carts as a low-cost urban design […]

The High Cost of the Cul De Sac

In my opinion and the experience I’ve had as a City Engineer, roads in general are a blessing – but Cul de Sacs are a curse. And I’m not just talking about the planning aspects in terms of traffic circulations and the creation of neighbourhood identities, but on the cost of providing services to these […]