Startup City: Inspiring Private and Public Entrepreneurship, Getting Projects Done, and Having Fun by Gabe Klein and David Vega-Barachowitz

Klein and Vega-Barachowitz's lively book is perhaps a bit too chatty and a bit lightweight compared to many dense tomes on transportation planning. Nonetheless, their accounts of recent successes in improving urban mobility in Washington, DC and Chicago are inspiring, as they lay out tips and relate lessons learned during their struggles to get ambitious projects completed. While the authors clearly have a can-do spirit and a vision for the urban transportation future, Startup City's strongest point is the large amount of practical advice it contains. Many pages of this brief volume are taken up by attractive if sometimes rather uninformative illustrations, but Klen and Vega-Barachowitz also present advice about how to inspire teams of workers who are used to less engaged managers, and how to bring iterative, 'just-in-time' planning techniques to the world of city government. While I found the title of the book rather crass at first, serial entrepreneur Klein is perfectly sincere and obviously successful in his bringing the startup world's risk-taking approach to urban planning.

The upshot is that Startup City is something of a guerrilla tactics manual for the coming urban transportation revolution. Klein's record of ambitious accomplishments in both cities is a testament to the fact that he really does know how to win, not via factionalism and battling, but by attracting supporters. The book ends on a particularly hopeful note by citing the tremendous opportunities that the urban mobility revolution offers for improving lifestyles and land use.

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