No, greenways are not a U.N. conspiracy

There I was, pencil poised over a large drawing of Gastonia. It was 1997 and I was running a public workshop to design a network of greenways and open spaces for residents to enjoy as recreational and natural amenities. Someone in the background was fiddling with a radio. Then, as I remember the moment, the […]

Revolutionary thinking for Red Line rail

MOORESVILLE – “Revolutionary” is not too strong a word for plans laid out Tuesday to a room full of government officials, consultants and interested laypeople. At a public workshop in Mooresville, some 150 people heard a lengthy and detailed proposal for reviving a planned but still unbuilt commuter rail line to Iredell County. Simply the […]

Snapshots of a resilient America

Amid the pervasive gloom and depression about the future of American cities I was lucky enough to visit recently two very different American places that hold out some hopes for a sustainable future here in the USA. On the face of it, Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and Boston, Mass., could not be more different: one a large […]

Find true independence with streetcars, not freeways

A rare joy in Charlotte is being able to live a compact, transit-supported lifestyle, where soul-sapping commuter journeys on interstates or arterial highways can be avoided. My wife, Linda, and I have worked hard to craft such a lifestyle, “aging in place” in Dilworth, where almost everything we need is within a mile of our […]

South Tryon St. Streetscape.

Should Charlotte Look Like Paris or Atlanta?

What should Charlotte look like? When discussing urban design many planners, architects and developers assume that what works in New York, San Francisco and Portland should work here. This assumption ignores the reality that Southerners have a very different perspective on “urbanness” than non-Southerners. No one has asked Charlotteans what they want their city to […]

The Future Isn’t Free

Charlotte is once more at a crossroads: future challenges abound—in education, environmental sustainability, and social equity to name only three. Even more important is the question of transportation infrastructure, and I make no apologies for returning to one of my favorite topics because of its primary importance to the economic growth and prosperity for our […]

Research Triangle West: Bringing knowledge production to the western Piedmont

In the early 1950s the not yet established Research Triangle Park (RTP) was pitched to Governor Luther Hodges as a cluster of “two medical schools, two engineering schools and a core of preeminent researchers in every field of science.” Hodges response: he called the presenter (a dean at NC State College) a “huckster.”[i] North Carolinians […]

Learning Lesson on Infrastructure

I’m writing this essay because I’m worried. I’ve grown attached to America in the 27 years I’ve lived and worked here but I’m forced to look elsewhere for useful examples of government action, corporate innovation and citizen activism to meet the fast approaching crises of climate change, future declining oil supplies and sustainable energy production. […]

Experiencing Cities: Convenience and Carbon

One of the delights of an academic life is the opportunity to spend time in the summer traveling on research trips to foreign countries; there really is nothing like studious foreign travel to give useful perspectives on conditions here in America. This year I went home to England and traveled to several other European countries […]