Figuring out the grid on planetizen

Planetizen has really grown into a site that interests me way, way more than it did at the beginning, where it was primarily the usual planning advocacy stuff. Now that they’ve been there, done that, it’s got writing that has been far more interesting to me, as I haven’t heard the same material for 10 years running.

One of my favorites recently was this piece from Fanis Grammenos on Choosing A Grid, or Not. First, I want to respond to an Fboo comment that the piece reduces the grid to “mere statistics.” First of all, there isn’t anything in the piece that even approaches statistics. He talks about correlation, but he doesn’t present any. These are measurements only. There is a difference between measurement and testing. And there’s nothing “mere” about either.

Second, jeez louise. Tough crowd. Nobody who measures something believes they have captured the whole of anything. Intelligent people should understand that they are more than a shoe size. And yet, that measure is pretty useful on a day-to-day basis.

Grammenos is at least trying to help us understand the physical aspects of what we are talking about when we are discussing different grids. All knowledge is partial, regardless of whether you are describing something with numbers, pictures, or words. Yes, even your pretty pictures are partial.


We grasp little bits of understanding with every study of this type we try to do.

The interesting bit of this material to me concerns something I’ve suspected for a very long time: undisciplined use of sidewalk regulation can increase ROW and spread the urban footprint, particularly if you refuse to pare down on road space (as many places do).

The mathematics of networks and space are fascinating. Anybody who thinks this stuff is reductive should go check out Anna Nagurney’s work, or her very nice blog.