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Elements of a thrivable city

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A thrivable city means a city which is not only sustainable, which has:

  • A minimal negative environmental impact, or even a positive impact.
  • A high quality of life, peaceful, lush and pleasant, with an active community.

Thrivability is a new word, used to capture this idea of sustainability and positive impact not through sacrifice, but at the same time as living larger, more abundantly.

How do we achieve this, a sustainable city with a wonderful quality of life?

  • Transit-oriented development with an efficient, comfortable public transport system.
  • Cycle and walking paths.
  • Walkable neighborhoods - every house within about five minutes walk of a local center and transport node.
  • Congestion charges - putting a price on driving in the city center and other congested locations, but only when attractive alternatives exist.
  • Grid pattern narrow streets, to encourage low speeds but short distances for car travel.
  • Chicanes and similar traffic calming devices rather than speed bumps. (Slow down cars, rather than punishing them.
  • High density housing at transport nodes, surrounded by medium density, all in a mixed-use pattern. This minimizes travel distance and time, reducing energy use, increasing the number of trips for social reasons, and thus increasing social capital.
  • Encourage the creation of additional small units, to increase the supply of affordable housing.
  • Public open space, including playgrounds, interspersed through the city.
  • A near-natural water cycle, with rainwater harvesting, and groundwater recharge through gardens, swales, rain gardens and permeable pavements to mimic the natural ability of undeveloped land to absorb rain and runoff.
  • Local food production, through community gardens and a community support program to help residents with low-maintenance food gardens (see lazy gardening).
  • Restrictions on the types of packaging that can be used, e.g. only compostable wrapping for food products, to enable better processing of waste.
  • Trees shade the streets
  • Building layout regulations such as building alignment/setback are made not on the basis of older US-centric suburban aesthetics, but mainly on the basis of practicality and efficient use of space. (Note that the most in-demand residential areas often follow this pattern of houses built close to the sidewalk.)

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