A True 8-80 City From the Outset.

Cities Skylines demonstrates culture needed for an 8-80 City


One good thing about Cities Skylines is you can run basic simulations on different urban and transport layouts before settling down on a preferred one for your City. While this gives an advantage to a real life city that usually has only one chance before expensive retrofitting kicks the lessons from the simulation are still valuable when looking back at that real city.


Last week Auckland Conversations held a presentation about wanting Auckland to be an 8-80 city. That being a City that is both safe to navigate and has amenities suitable for eight and eighty year old citizens. Auckland however, is a long way off to becoming an 8-80 City with the culture around Parks and Roads still thinking bigger is better. You can see how our parks system needs to be more flexible here: Park System in Auckland Needs to be Flexible #BetterAuckland UPDATED with Video Stream. For roads see: How to Use OUR Street Space Efficiently While Being Pro-People? and Streets versed Roads: Why Engineers Should Not Design Them But People Should .


To illustrate how unsafe our roads are here is this statistic from the USA on road deaths:


New Zealand and particularly Auckland have this weird fetish to over-engineer our roads as transport engineers get very scared if someone tries to affect the flow of the car. In short we are great with roads that are wide with flush medians, and slip lanes at intersections to move cars but as a result it creates a very inhospitable environment to the eight and eighty year old trying to navigate the same area. So Auckland Transport is great at roads but utterly dreadful at creating streets.


Quoting from Strong Towns:

From Strong Towns:


Last Friday I was participating in the 5th Annual Mayor’s Bike Ride in Duluth following a week spent sharing the Strong Towns message on the Iron Range. The friendly woman riding next to me asked me what could be done to better educate engineers so they would start to build streets that were about more than simply about moving cars. My answer rejected the premise of the question: We should not be asking engineers to design streets.

A quick review for those of you that are new here (which might be up to half the audience — amazing). Roads and streets are two separate things. The function of a road is to connect productive places. You can think of a road as a refinement of the railroad — a road on rails — where people board in one place, depart in another and there is a high speed connection between the two.

In contrast, the function of a street is to serve as a platform for building wealth. On a street, we’re attempting to grow the complex ecosystem that produces community wealth. In these environments, people (outside of their automobile) are the indicator species of success. So, in short, with a street we’re trying to create environments where humans, and human interaction, flourish.

Engineers are well-suited to constructing roads. Road environments are quite simple and, thus, lend themselves well to things like design manuals and uniform guidelines. There are only so many variables and the relationship they have to each other is fairly straightforward. In the United States, we have tested, refined and codified an engineering approach to roads that is pretty amazing and, in terms of engineering, the envy of the world.

There are two primary variables for designing a road: design speed and projected traffic volume. From those two numbers, we can derive the number of lanes, lane width, shoulder width, the width of clear zones and the allowable horizontal and vertical curvature. From those factors, we can specify all the pavement markings and signage that are necessary. We can then monitor things like the Level of Service, the 85th percentile speed and traffic counts to optimize how the road functions over time. Engineers are really good at this.

Engineers are not good at building streets nor, I would argue, can the typical engineer readily become good at it. Streets that produce wealth for a community are complex environments. They do not lend themselves well to rote standards or even design guidelines. There are numerous variables at play that interact with each other, forming feedback loops and changing in ways that are impossible to predict.


Source and full article: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/5/22/engineers-should-not-design-streets


That alone demonstrates Auckland has a long way to go in becoming an 8-80 City while our culture is around roads and not streets.

Even with roads we also fail to allocate them properly as well:

How many people benefit from different street configurations? Source: https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/05/26/the-supply-and-demand-of-street-space/
How many people benefit from different street configurations? Source: https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/05/26/the-supply-and-demand-of-street-space/



Back to Cities Skylines

Again the good thing about a simulator is that you can try things out if you make a mistake. That said I tend not to do so, so if I have made an error it will cost me money and time to fix it up. This is because I like my Cities Skylines cities to flow and evolve organically which means mistakes from time to time that need $$$ and fixes.

In Layton City (my latest Cities Skylines city) I am adopting this 8-80 City mantra and applying it to the layout of this new City. The logic behind this is to see if I apply a 8-80 culture to my City building (the big picture) from the outset how will this impact in my decisions while building and later retrofitting Layton City.

Layton City though is a young city having only being founded recently game wise. It means it is a bit early yet to put down bus stations, rail stations and subway stations. But it also means I am having to be two steps ahead in planning for those options as the City grows and evolves unless I want to be caught out like Auckland is in a major game of catch up. While the mass transit is in its very early stages planning for active transport modes and your basic city layout is very much at the forefront of Layton City. Cycleways, paths, laneways, green boulevards (road and cycle-only) are the name of the game in a young Layton City and the results are already paying off as the pictures will show.


Let’s take a look at the start of an 8-80 city:

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Following my system I outlined in my earlier parks post I use the smaller is better mantra using a network of small parks, playgrounds and plazas interconnected with connector parks, cycleways and cycle boulevards. Larger parks like sports fields are distributed in a less manner around the City while urban forests are sprinkled through as the City matures.

As the mass transit system evolves the roll out of bus lanes, bus ways, and transport interchanges begins. This time I am going to try my hand at developing a heavy rail passenger network in place of an extensive subway system that I usually do. I will let you know how this works out as Layton City evolves.


Already though the citizens in this young city have taken to the parks and extensive cycling network very well if the happiness indicators are anything to go by. Let’s hope with a good culture mindset that this 8-80 city will realise its dream of a walking city rather than a car infested nightmare.