The 10 minute rule....
One time I was in Paris visiting a friend, and we were walking back from her place to the hotel I was staying, and along the way I remarked that there were a lot of subway stations. Her husband then mentioned that one of the goals of the Paris Metro was that there should be a subway stop within 10 minutes walking distance of anywhere in Paris. It seemed an arbitrary but reasonable benchmark. Anyone can walk 10 minutes, it doesn't seem too long nor too strenuous. It basically translates to 1/3 of a mile.
Now I bring this up as I just came back from San Francisco and was wondering how close that vision is to Paris'. It's not bad near Market St., non-existent in places like Twin Peaks. So it got me thinking, what would a typical place like Palo Alto (no I don't live there, but since Stanford's there, we'll pick it) or Berkeley (no I don't live there either) would be like.
Palo Alto is about 6 miles by 6 miles, so if you divide by 0.6 (since if you are in the center between two stops, it's 0.3 miles), you would need 100 bus stops. If you go by the Paris goal (and it is a goal, not something they have achieved) you can tell density counts. I don't think that we can create sustainable cities until we accept a certain level of density.
Or maybe we rethink what density means. More on that later.