Planning Mistakes

This is one of my favourite photos:

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I took this picture in Birmingham back in 2012 on a trip with my Ryerson Urban Planning peers.

Notice the older buildings on the left and the newer one on the right. Now look at the setback for the newer building in the foreground. Our guide pointed out that this setback was mandated for redevelopments per old planning documents, in anticipation of expanding the right of way for cars – they believed cars were the future of travel and were preparing to move them up the transportation hierarchy.

It’s a great reminder of how planning can get things wrong, despite the best of intentions. But I’m happy this misled prioritization was withdrawn, otherwise modern-day Birmingham would not have been as joyously walkable as it was.

(Then again, who knows? Maybe in 50 years we will think not keeping that zoning standard was a mistake, when we have solar-powered SUV hoverboards.)

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