Via Bird Dog's Old Urbanist site is this fun article from New World Economics, We can all be wizards. He favors a certain type of village environment with narrow streets and varieties of buildings, and sees the beauty of that nicely displayed in the Harry Potter movies. We saw The Shambles in York, and there are a few of those narrow street, non-gridded neighborhoods in Budapest as well. Anything that grew up before autos has some flavor of it, such as sections of Boston near downtown.
I think there are enormous problems being overlooked or dismissed in the essay, but it's fun anyway. I don't know that we actually would like to live in that environment, but it's enjoyable to imagine, anyway.
The Old Urbanist links to a couple of dozen sites focused on improving city life or human environment in general. If you poke around, you will notice a strong trend not only to places where one can walk, but a lot of pro-bicycle evangelism as well. The usual line is that American society reflexively privileges automobiles and whatever is good for those, not giving enough thought to the non-polluting, less-parking, no-fossil-fuel, good-for-your-health bicycles.
Well, why privilege bicycles? It's a recent, sort of odd technology in the human experience, with not much record as being the main transport for large segments of populations. The number of people who can use them for trips of any length is small, and they are only useful in certain weather, when you aren't carrying much. If you don't think that CO2 or peak oil are quite the problem they are made out to be, and you notice that cyclists tend to be a leggy crew, without a lot of disability, multiple children, or unwieldy packages, you might start to question what all the hype is about.
And then there's rain, and winter, when all those super-useful-and-necessary bike lines are now just wasted space. I do see some advantages. Not so many as advertised. It's a nice hobby.