Reader V.C. writes: “I really want to make a pivot into the Urban Policy/Planning/Transportation world. Are there any basic texts or publications that you think would be good to read”
There are! In particular, Christopher Leinberger’s The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream is a good, short, readable, policy-oriented brief for, you know, stuff I’m in favor of. Donald Shoup’s book The High Cost of Free Parking is also good, but it’s both extremely long and quite expensive so you might want to not read it and just listen to my blog posts on the subject. Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us?) is so readable that I actually bought my copy at an airport bookstore, and not so policy-oriented, but it contains a lot of well-explained presentations of rigorous research on this oft-counterintuitive subject. I also hear good things about Alex Marshall’s How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken, though I haven’t read it. Last, Doug Rae’s City: Urbanism and Its End is really just a case study of New Haven, but it makes for fascinating reading and employs theoretical concepts that have enduring relevance as to why the next era of urbanism can’t (and won’t) just be a return to how things were back in the proverbial day.
Outside of books, I recommend a great little magazine (and website) called The Next American City and also blogs! In particular, you should check out the Streetsblog Network and other avenues to find good urbanism-related sites in your local area — Greater Greater Washington for DC, and others for other cities.