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The Great Recession of 2007-2009 triggered the Depression that we appear to be exiting this summer. And it was triggered by the collapse of the Great Turn of the Century Suburban Housing Bubble.

In coming out of the recent Depression, one driver of residential property values, the Cul de Sac, seems to be in conflict with a new driver: walkability. In October 2013, the Realtor(R) Magazine Online, of the National Association of Realtors, wrote, in Neighborhoods: More Walkable, More Desirable that:

Neighborhoods that boast greater walkability tend to have higher resale values in both residential and commercial properties, finds a recent study published in Real Estate Economics. In fact, a 2009 report by CEOs for Cities found that just a one-point increase in a city’s walk score could potentially increase homes’ values by $700 to $3,000.
And Ken Harney, writing for NewHomeSource.com, observes in that:
The core concept — connecting people with where they want to work, play and own a home by creating attractive neighborhood environments that make maximum use of existing transit infrastructure — fits many post-recession households’ needs, regardless of age. Older owners of suburban homes are downsizing into townhouses and condo units close to or in the central city, often in locations near transit lines. Younger buyers, fed up with long commutes to work, want to move to places where they can jump onto mass transit and get off the road.

Many of these buyers also have an eye on economics. For example, Bill Locke, a federal contracts consultant in northern Virginia, said that although owning a LEED-certified townhome near a Metro transit stop “is a really big deal” for himself and his wife, he sees the unit they recently purchased in the Old Town Commons development in Alexandria, Va., as a long-term investment that will grow in value “because it makes so much more sense” than competing, traditional subdivisions farther out from the city.

So, what does this mean for the sustainable transport and for the future of the deadly American Suburban Cul de Sac? Let's have a chat about it, below the fold.

The Deadly Cul de Sac

First, lets start with the deadly status quo for suburban residental development, the Cul de Sac. Ironically, the Cul de Sac was first promoted in the 1920's as a safer residential layout option. As observed in Reconsidering the Cul de Sac (pdf):

Ever since one of the first engineering studies on residential street safety was done in Los Angeles between 1951 and 1956, the Institute of Transportation Engineers has recommended hierarchical discontinuous street systems for residential neighborhoods. The study showed that the number of accidents was substantially higher in grid-based subdivisions, so ITE established engineering standards using cul-de-sacs.
Of course, this is based on accident figures, not risk of death or risk of injury figures. Most accidents when leaving the house from a Cul-de-Sac occur on a higher speed road that suburban developments rely on to connect to everywhere else. So the risk of injury and death is higher for the Cul-de-Sac pattern, despite a lower rate of accidents. As PedShed reported back in 2008, in a study comparing 24 Californian cities, "safe" cities, with severe/fatal accident rates 1/3 or more lower than the state average differed systematically from "unsafe" cities, with severe/fatal accident rates 1/3 or more higher than the state average:
  • All of the "safe" cities were established before the ITE engineering standards were put into place, with an average intersection density of 106/mi2, a walk/bike/transit mode share of 16% and fatality rate of 3.2 per 100,000 people per year;
  • while the "unsafe" cities, most established after 1950, had an average intersection density of 63/mi2, a walk/bike/transit mode share of 4% and fatality rate of 10.5 per 100,000 people per year.

And as reported by Tanya Snyder at Streetsblog from a 2011 forum on intelligent cities in Cul-de-Sacs Are Killing Us: Public Safety Lessons From Suburbia, Professor William Lucy of the University of Virginia has pointed out more ways that traffic accident data can be deceiving:

"They turn what should be a 100-yard walk into a two-mile drive, and they put more people in cars for more reasons than they should," Lucy said. And because they get lulled into a sense of security, he said, parents don’t teach their kids about street safety and the "difference between street and sidewalk and driveway and yard."

But the greatest danger to a young child, he said, is being backed over by a motor vehicle – usually driven by their own parents in their own driveway. Indeed, "backovers" account for 34 percent of "non-traffic" vehicular fatalities among children under 15 years old. ("Frontovers" account for another 30 percent, meaning that 64 percent of "non-traffic" vehicular fatalities still involve children being run over, according to KidsAndCars.org.)

Because these incidents occur on private property, they’re not considered "traffic" accidents and data is not collected by national traffic safety organizations. Meanwhile, Lucy said, squeamishness over openly reporting on the tragedy of a parent killing his or her own child with a car leads newspapers to bury news of backovers – missing a "teachable moment."

So the Cul de Sac imply fatalities on the unsafe "stroads" that connect them to anywhere someone would wish to go, with the whole system having over three times the death toll per 100,000 people, according to the California study ... while the Cul de Sac itself is less safe than it appears in the traffic accident figures, with many fatalities of those under 15 occurring at the driveway connecting to the Cul de Sac,

 
The Cul de Sac versus Walkability

Now, Cul de Sac suburban developments imply a dependence on "stroads" to get almost anywhere. A "stroad" has been defined by the Urban Dictionary as:

Noun. Portmanteau of "street" and "road": it describes a street, er, road, built for high speed, but with multiple access points. Excessive width is a common feature. A common feature in suburbia, especially along commercial strips. Unsafe at any speed, their extreme width and straightness paradoxically induces speeding. Somewhat more neutral than synonymous traffic sewer.
Stroads imply a higher death toll to getting anywhere to those who rely on them. But if the dependence on stroads are taken for granted, the appeal of living on a deadly Cul de Sac is quite rational, if one quite reasonably assumes that living along the stroad is even deadlier than using it every day. And if the death toll of the stroad is taken for granted as "normal", and we turn our eyes away from many of the the children killed by cars in their own Cul de Sac neighborhoods, its relatively easy to maintain the social fiction of the "quiet, safe Cul de Sac neighborhood."

But Cul de Sacs have been criticized for more than the death toll associated with their supporting transport system. They also have been criticized for their negative impact on walkability. Chris Norstrom in has a number of illustrations of the extremes of the problem using overhead illustrations of houses within walking distance of each other being turned into multi-mile drives (click through to see examples).

The simplest way to "fix" this is with cross-connecting cycleway and sidewalk connectors that interconnect Cul de Sacs together. The challenge, of course, is that this is a system in which most people must rely on the car. The existing street layout makes getting somewhere useful on foot or by bike far more difficult than need be, which includes getting to a bus stop on the stroad where the bus must operate if it is to get anywhere. And therefore we can expect strong resistance to the idea of improving accessibility through a Cul de Sac road, given that most existing homeowners paid extra to be on a more secluded street.

And we can also expect pushback from property developers. After all, while safety was the selling point, a large part of the reason why the safety myth was being used to sell the Cul de Sac was the Cul de Sac allows property developers to offload costs onto the surrounding area. As mentioned in passing in Reconsidering the Cul de Sac (pdf), as if it was not as important to the adoption of Cul de Sac development as the original confusion about traffic safety:

The pattern is popular with developers not only because it sells well, but also because the infrastructure costs are significantly lower than for the traditional interconnected grid pattern, which can require up to fifty percent more
road construction.
The dramatic decrease in interconnections comes with a cost, however. Going back to the 2008 post from PedShed:
The key is this: The cost to operate a fire station generally is fixed. The size of the service area and the number of properties served per station don’t really affect operating cost. Therefore, the bigger the service area and the more properties that can be served, the more efficiently the fire department is using taxpayer money. If the fire department can serve more properties with fewer stations while meeting response time standards, it can save taxpayer money.

The study examined eight fire stations in the Charlotte area and found as street connectivity increased, the number of households served by each fire station increased as well. The least-connected service areas served 5,700 to 7,300 households; the most-connected service areas served 20,800 to 25,900 households. That means there are dramatic differences in the fiscal efficiency of individual fire stations. The stations in least-connected areas cost $586 to $740 per capita annually; the stations in most-connected areas cost $159 to $206 per capita annually.

Now, we normally regulate the Cul de Sac to ensure that the fire trucks can get in ... it is the need to get fire trucks and fire engines (as well, in more northerly climes, snow removal equipment) that results in the typical "lollipop" look, with the turn-about at the end of the Cul de Sac often 100ft or more in diameter. But we don't normally charge the developer for the extra capital cost over the expected life of the development for the extra emergency service stations required to serve a residential development designed around single points of connection to a stroad and a meandering Loop Street and Cul de Sac street layout.

New "Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements" in Virginia limit the ability of developers to gain Virginia DOT maintenance on Cul de Sac streets. And Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas (NPR report) have largely banned new Cul de Sac development.

However, there is still a market premium for being on a Cul de Sac, even as there is a growing market premium for being a Walkable neighborhood. And so there are a growing number of ideas being developed how one could have a "walkable Cul de Sac".

 
The Walkable Cul de Sac: Our Suburban Future ... or an Oxymoron?

I have already quoted from the background to the Cul de Sac from Southworth and Ben-Joseph's "Reconsidering the Cul de Sac", but the purpose of the piece is to introduce design patterns which retain some of the features that people value about Cul de Sacs, without sacrificing walkability in the process. There are two basic approaches to this: connecting the Cul de Sac for pedestrians (and, one hopes, cyclists as well), and disconnecting the Grid for vehicles.

The first approach is shown in the retrofit to the right. The problem, here, is that the offering people the opportunity to get from one part of a Cul de Sac to another will provoke opposition from some residents who do not want their dead-end-street turned into a through street, even for pedestrian and cycling transport ... while at the same time, this is likely to invite very little determined support, because the ability to walk to other houses in the neighborhood is a lot less important for "Walkability" than the ability to walk to work, to school, to shop, out to dinner, to the library, and etc.

Contrast that to a cycleway with sidewalks as sketched below. It cuts across from where one secondary through road begins to turn into a stroad, to run into the back side of a Target department store. And there are small connectors linking onto it Loop streets of previously single-access developments.

So this makes the Target store a "walkable" destination for the residents of "Shady Pine Avenue" and of "Sutton Point Boulevard" (setting aside whether it should be legal to call a secondary Loop street a "boulevard"). If there is a bus route connecting to the Target or on North Goldenrod, a main through road, it also makes makes the bus stop a walkable stop for those residences.

And given that non-motor-vehicle through route, there is now a reason for people on the two single street developments in the block at the top left to want to extend a walking and bike path from the dead-end sides of their streets.

As a side effect it is also possible to go from "Shady Pine Avenue" to "Sutton Point Boulevard" without having to drive on University Blvd, but the walking access between residences in two adjoining developments would not be the driving factor in gaining acceptance of the retrofit.

 
The Loop Without the Lollipop: Grid-Based Approaches.

But this is not the only kind of retrofit we need to do. We also need to retrofit what are presently big box stores, strip malls and enclosed malls surrounded by massive parking lots into mixed use residential / commercial / professional cores. That retrofit does not start with an existing Cul de Sac development. It is targeting the residential space that has the most to gain from the walkability benefits of the grid. And it is targeting the residential space where we gain the most from higher density development, in areas that do not have legacy anti-density restrictions such as excessive lot setbacks and two floor height restrictions, making it possible to establish a denser pattern, such as multiple stacked townhouses per lot.

This is one approach that could be taken to providing secondary streets without through traffic for this kind of retrofit. The side streets are one shared car and bike lane going one way, with an exclusive bike lane going the other way, and of course with sidewalks on both sides of the street. There is no through car traffic because a car can't drive through. This is enforced with the diagonal cross sidewalk protected by ballards that block any cars that would be interesting in violating the one way traffic sign and attempting to drive through the wrong way down the next street.

For pedestrians, the 2x2 block is a the same as a normal street grid, with the addition of a catty-corner crossing in the middle of the block that is protected from car traffic. And cyclists can pedal through the grid as well. Indeed, the two central paths form a target for a "cycle boulevard", with a mix of calmed car traffic and exclusive cycle lanes.

And for developers, the cost of street access should be substantially lower than for a conventional two-way street grid.

This may be an attractive mix of traffic exposure for a mixed use area, with roughly half of the lots fronting onto the two way main through streets and the other half fronting onto one-way single block. However, if there is more demand for walkable residences than demand for mixed use street level professional and commercial space, then there may also be a peripheral residential retrofit blocks where there is more demand for side-street lots than is satisfied by this 1:1 ratio of main street and side street facing lots.

However, one can increase the ratio of side streets by ... doing the same thing again, in this 4x4 lot layout. Note how the car access is precisely the confusing welter of loops and T-intersections so prized in Cul de Sac developments ... but for pedestrians and cyclists, its still a simple 4x4 grid.

And now the central cyclist through routes are even more appealing for cycle boulevards, with four blocks of transit between each main street crossing. If the transport stops are on the intersections of main through streets and cycle boulevards, then the street crossing infrastructure can be shared between cyclists crossing the street and pedestrians crossing between the two directions public transport directions of travel.

 
Conclusions and Conversations

OK, so these are some ideas for retrofitting the demand for side-streets that are sheltered from traffic with the demand for greater walkability than most of our current suburbs offer.

Which of these ideas do you find most appealing? And what other ideas have you come across, or come up with, for squaring this same circle?

As always, the Sunday Train does not finish with the end of the essay ... that is just the prelude to the conversation. So feel free to introduce any issue involving sustainable energy and transport into the mix.

Originally posted to Sunday Train on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Kinks remind us there's an English term ... (96+ / 0-)

    The French "Cul de Sac" sounds better in a real estate listing, but.

    All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

    by BruceMcF on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 04:55:53 PM PDT

    •  I must rec anything with a Kinks song! (6+ / 0-)

      Face to Face is filled with gems. The Kinks wrote a lot of songs about urban development/social engineering. Muswell Hillbilly. Shangri La.

      Very interesting diary as well.

      •  Though not ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badscience, thanatokephaloides

        ... it would seem, that little gem ... there is are complaints in the youtube comment about putting the Face to Face album cover to a song that isn't on Face to Face. I guess its the music sharing version of grammar nazis.

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:53:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ha! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF, thanatokephaloides

          I forgot VGPS in my list above (and there are more, many more). But lyrics like this are uniquely Ray:

          We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliates
          God save tudor houses, antique tables and billiards

          (great rhyme there, Ray!)

        •  Dead end street is a perfect title for urban plans (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF, thanatokephaloides

          that don't take into account rising sea levels.

          While I love urban planning in general especially when its regional and takes into account walking pace design as opposed to strip cities where everything goes by you as a highway speed blur, there simply is no way we can save most urban and suburban housing with sea walls and levees.

          It may even be difficult to save towns at higher elevations that happen to have a river flowing near them as 100 year storms begin to come every decade and then every year.

          There is no way to say water and sewer plants, nuke plants, LPGN, oil and gas storage, seaports, airports, subways and railroads, highway tunnels and bridges, underground utilities, pumping stations, most Police, Fire, City Hall, Library, School, Hospital, and other municipal infrastructure.

          Most businesses, manufacturing, retail, commercial and manufacturing have to move or flood by 2050.

          Over 100 East and Gulf Coast cities with populations over 100,000 need to begin planning for their entire core to relocate to new cities with nothing allowed tobe  built or repaired in the place where it sits now.

          "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

          by rktect on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:08:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, I live in Ohio ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            thanatokephaloides

            ... I'm not particularly worried about the threat of the Atlantic flooding through the Appalachian passes, since if it comes to that, I figure I'll likely have been taken out already.

            All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

            by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:29:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You can worry about rivers flooding (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BruceMcF, thanatokephaloides

              tornadoes, drought, crop failures, and a flood  of starving urban refugees coming to Ohio like heavily armed locusts

              "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

              by rktect on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:32:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Those five would likely be in the top 10 ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                thanatokephaloides

                ... alongside killer blizzards, super-pests, genetically engineered diseases and all of the wonderful things we have to look forward to.

                Our main threat from drought it not so much the total lack of water, but planting with an expectation of the usual abundant water supply. So drought/Flood could lead to a degree of crop diversification for self-insurance, with a mix of dryland and wet weather crops so something survives.

                But it seems like like coastal cities built in semi-deserts will have it worse.

                All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:55:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like the traffic "calming"... (10+ / 0-)

    ...my old department has palmed off on some parts of Chicago.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:12:20 PM PDT

    •  Which? (6+ / 0-)

      I'm guessing the cul-de-sacking the grid section rather than the sidewalk and cycle grid-ifying the Cul de Sac section.

      I live in a traditional grid small town (officially a city, because it was ambitious at the time of chartering), and IMV we could get by with narrower side streets, but my guess is that the death cagers would possibly not agree.

      It seems like the main thing that saves our main street (which is a through state route) from being a stroad is that the town has a town-wide 35mph speed limit, unless signed lower, so the traffic sewer is the 55mph state route that skirts the north edge of town.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:31:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cul-de-sacs on some, traffic circles on most... (7+ / 0-)

        ...but the cul-de-sacs usually have a bike/pedestrian path through them. These are all meant to break up a grid that already exists. The speed limit, unless otherwise posted, is 30 MPH. And a lot of the streets are narrow enough they are usually one-way.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:58:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The last section is kind of TrafficCalmingPlus ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GeorgeXVIII, thanatokephaloides

          ... as with a Cul de Sac situation of rarely having any through traffic at all, as for a car the street is only really useful as an access lane and not for through traffic, while only two of the four interior corners need the setbacks to allow fire trucks and engines to make that turn (and the extra half lane of clearance on the right for the counterflow cycleway reduces the required setback).

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 12:25:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  roundabouts are "really big" right now (5+ / 0-)

          in transportation departments. heh.

          planning fads are fun.

          Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

          by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:56:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A few years back, my erstwhile superiors... (5+ / 0-)

            ...wanted to close Milwaukee Avenue at Logan Square, and turn it into Chicago's first signalized roundabout. The Fire Department and the CTA were rather critical, and the idea got set aside.

            Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

            by JeffW on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 05:12:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  we just put one at the top of a mountain (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JeffW, BruceMcF, thanatokephaloides

              (granted, our mountains are broad ridges at the top, but yeah.)

              Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

              by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 05:20:36 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There are atleats two large traffic circles... (4+ / 0-)

                ...in DesPlaines, IL. My impression was that they were built to obviate the need for traffic signals at 5-approach intersections (they are STOP-sign controlled). Doing NEMA dual-ring timings on more than four approaches is soooo difficult.

                Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

                by JeffW on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 05:32:26 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  roundabouts aren't bad in themselves (4+ / 0-)

                  but they are a fad right now

                  the funny thing where I live is almost every little town has a square, which is basically like a traffic circle, but no one seems to know how to navigate the circles.

                  Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

                  by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 05:49:59 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not bad in the U.K. They suck here (6+ / 0-)

                    because Americans don't know how to drive through them. Texting & cell phone yapping don't mix with roundabouts.

                    “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

                    by FishOutofWater on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:25:49 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Texting and cell-phone yapping ... (2+ / 0-)

                      ... don't mix with traffic lights either. I reckon people yapping on cell phones are less dangerous in a roundabout (NB. relative, not absolute) if they know how to drive through one, since there are fewer different ways to look than a signaled intersection.

                      But cell phone yappers who know to pause to get through the intersection and don't know to do that a round-about should still be treated like an intersection would be a terror.

                      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:48:32 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Its something that's easy to learn ... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    GeorgeXVIII, thanatokephaloides

                    ... but it does need learning ... I picked it up easily enough when I went to Oz on the few times I drove before my Ohio license expired ... but I had been riding in cars with people who knew how to drive through round-abouts, plus was able to look up advice how to drive through them in the internet.

                    All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                    by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:45:43 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  They are more efficient than ... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  GeorgeXVIII, thanatokephaloides

                  ... traffic signals for multi-lane intersections, so long as the drivers know where to look and what to do based on what they see ...

                  ... if you dumped a bunch of people who had never had experience driving through multi-lane signaled intersections into a route with a lot of them, that would be a terror as well.

                  All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                  by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:51:08 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's approximately (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BruceMcF, thanatokephaloides

                    how everyone who lives in Washington, DC, learns to cope with roundabouts: make it through or die trying.  And the natives who are familiar with them are super-aggressive.  It's hair-raising.

                    Banana Republic: it's not just a clothing store.

                    by northbronx on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 01:21:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The fact that they are so effective when you ... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      thanatokephaloides

                      ... know what you are doing is part of what makes it hair-raising if you are guessing and trying to feel you way. Few American driving courses include instruction in how to take a single lane or multi-lane roundabout.

                      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:17:37 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  I had twelve roundabouts to navigate on (3+ / 0-)

            my way to see my husband daily.

            They annoy me.

            Help me get my utilities on! I can't eat this elephant by myself. http://www.gofundme.com/8xw014

            by Alexandra Lynch on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:02:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  roundabouts (0+ / 0-)
            roundabouts are "really big" right now in transportation departments. heh.
            They're French, after all.

            And truly I say unto thee:

            GAAAAKKKKKK  KKK K!!

            :-)

            "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

            by thanatokephaloides on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:25:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  correction: (0+ / 0-)
              They're French, after all.
              Roundabouts are a British abomination invention.

              My apologies to my readers -- and to France and her people. Le peuple francaise at least understand what side of the road civilized people drive on.

              ;-)

              "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

              by thanatokephaloides on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:30:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  WTF pays attention to 30 mph. speed limit signs... (0+ / 0-)

          Drivers are in a hurry. Especially those always late to pick up their kids from school so their darlings don't have to walk on those dangerous streets with the fast cars.

          ------T'is a take-off from a Dixie Chicks song. I'm a fan------

          by Notreadytobenice on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 09:06:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The other thing that stinks about stroads (16+ / 0-)

    is that because of the multiple access points there is a need for traffic lights every 300 feet or so on a road that often was once a country road or a trunk highway.  That promotes the worst aspects of a street: dangerous to walk or bike on or near, more intersections on a wider road designed for a higher speed causes more accidents and driving conflicts,  and the abundance of signaled intersections creates gridlock and an extremely slow average speed on a par with urban streets without the street life. The Chicago suburbs are full of such roads, some of which are paralleled by Metra commuter rail or the CTA El system.  On those routes the trains provide a much faster travel time than the roads do. Especially when you consider that the dwell time of a train stop is comparable to the typical traffic light.

  •  Insightful diary. Our designed living environment (14+ / 0-)

    has a great effect on our quality of life, and it is often paradoxical to what we would think on first glace.

    Thanks for this one!

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 07:52:20 PM PDT

  •  I also prefer the grid system for transportation (15+ / 0-)

    because it provides multiple nodes and therefore redundancies in the network that can provide the alternative routes unavailable with the cul de sac system of dead ends.

    •  that's the kind of thing I think of when they talk (3+ / 0-)

      about emergency evacuation plans. Personally we'd be out through the back woods on the dirt-bike, but the small city north of us has a commercial area with a bottleneck on both ends that is what got us thinking in the first place. And there is a way they could build a second access road that would also cross-connect both sides of town but I never see that as a plan put forth.

      We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

      by nuclear winter solstice on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:51:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I spend a lot of time finding (8+ / 0-)

    bike routes through Cul-de-sac infested developments. My favorites are walkable because there are paths connecting streets. Most of the others have a few curvy streets that will get you through. They all have to be scouted, and some are utterly bike locked!

    I think the trend I see is moving to grid, but with lots of stop signs (4-way) and traffic circles to "quiet" traffic. Traffic circles are NOT bike friendly. They're getting better about bike lanes though!

    •  Two lane or one lane? (7+ / 0-)

      They called them roundabouts in Australia ... the one lane roundabouts are easier for a bike to make a left turn with (well, in Oz, a right turn), but the two lane roundabouts could be a pain in the derriere, even if they were signaled entry roundabouts with a walk signal that could be reached from the side of the road.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:24:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we have a local two-lane roundabout that manages (5+ / 0-)

        to take the main traffic it was supposed to fix (because apparently folks couldn't wait for the light) and turn it into a space where everybody still waits and has to go across the x part of it instead of on part gently exiting as the next part moves in. D'oh. It only took 45 minutes of that one being open before they had to close it to clean up the first accident. Now the road is always strewn with pretty red and orange sparkly bits.

        We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

        by nuclear winter solstice on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:56:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The behavior bit there ... (2+ / 0-)

          ... people who know how to drive round-abouts are part of why round-abouts have a higher capacity than signaled intersections ... take a large number of people who don't know how to drive them, and it'll be a lot of learning by crashing.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:42:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  recced for: (0+ / 0-)
      Cul-de-sac infested developments.

      "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

      by thanatokephaloides on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:32:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bad Science Alert! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BvueDem, terrypinder, Yoshimi

    No, you don't get to use driveway fatalities to make a case for a preference in the design of streets.

    If that kind of methodology was used in a remote-viewing study, James Randi would be all over it in a minute.  

    Classic example of bad methodology.  Calls into question the entire body of research as being ideologically biased, aka "junk science."

    Really: speaking here as a "fanatical sustainability freak" by any definition (self-built refrigeration system and laundry-to-toilet graywater system, telecommuting, and inventor of telecommute feature for office PBXs, gasoline consumption 1/4 of average, electricity consumption less than half of average, and refuse/recycling output approx. 1/5 of average), we need to do better than that.  

    The bottom line is energy consumption and CO2 output.  

    Simple example:  A gas guzzler driven very few miles has a lower ecological impact than a hybrid driven many miles.  

    Urban planning example:  Compare the total fuel consumption of a given quantity of demographically-similar households in each of two areas.  I guarantee that the actual empirical numbers will not map to an ideologically-driven algorithm such as "cul-de-sacs" or "density of housing" beyond certain obvious parameters.  

    Really: we have to get beyond the "evil thing of the month" approach and start doing truly rigorous science and engineering.  Wishing doesn't make it so.

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 08:43:17 PM PDT

    •  Straw man fallacy alert. (10+ / 0-)

      "No, you don't get to use driveway fatalities to make a case for a preference in the design of streets."

      Why not?

      We know that there are systematic differences between the interaction of car and pedestrians under different street and driveway layouts, with and without sidewalks. We know that there appear to be differences in incidence correlated with those different layouts. Prof. Lucy presents a claimed cause and effect relationship to explain the incidence.

      Even setting aside Prof. Lucy's hypothesis regarding the cause and effect relationship, which you ignored rather than addressing (and hence the straw man logical fallacy alert), why is it that systematic difference in the intersection interactions cannot be responsible for what appear to be different incidences of fatalities?

      If you have a methodology that insists that systematic differences in interactions are not allowed to be used as explanatory factors for systematic differences in incidences of events, I suggest you ditch it and adopt a scientific methodology in its place.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:21:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  why not: for the same reason you don't get to... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BvueDem, Yoshimi

        ... use alcohol fatality statistics to support marijuana prohibition.  

        They are two different things, unrelated, or at most a spurious correlation that in no way demonstrates causality.  

        There are three distinct zones here: the driveway, the street, and the boundary between the two where the vehicle is partially in the driveway and partially in the street.  The boundary zone could realistically extend from the point between entering or leaving the traffic lane and entering or leaving the driveway.

        One can make a case that the boundary zone interacts with the street zone, and the design of streets affects fatalities in that boundary zone.  But if you want to go there, then the high accident condition will be that with higher road speeds or higher road traffic, and cul-de-sacs are neither.

        "Systematic differences in the interactions at intersections" are concerned with intersections of streets and thus also have nothing to do with driveways.

        There may very well be an increase in accidents at the intersections between cul-de-sacs and "stroads," but that also has nothing to do with driveways and everything to do with higher speed traffic on "stroads."

        Re Lucy, per your linked article:  "At a daylong forum yesterday on intelligent cities at the National Building Museum, Lucy could barely wait to lay into cul-de-sacs..."  A day-long forum is not a peer-reviewed paper in a reputable journal.  

        Let's see some peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals.  Otherwise Lucy's hypothesis remains conjecture, unsupported by data.  Speaking of scientific method.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 01:32:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  not sure I agree for the simple reason that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thanatokephaloides

          when patterns of anything are involved, creating a new one in one spot automatically does change the factors and patterns involved around and behind it.

          We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

          by nuclear winter solstice on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:00:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  when patterns of anything are involved... (0+ / 0-)

            ... the first thing to do is create a testable hypothesis and let the data speak.  

            Human brains are remarkably adept at seeing patterns, including where there are none.  Loch Ness Monster, need I say more?

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:17:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Your position here has been ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sneakers563

              ... to reject out of hand the possibility that that may have been done, and to reject a claim made by someone in the field based on methodological grounds based on assuming a facile assumption that it was flawed without bothering to find out what methodology they may have employed.

              All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

              by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:14:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Begging the question alert! (8+ / 0-)

          You wrote:

          They are two different things, unrelated, or at most a spurious correlation that in no way demonstrates causality.  
          [emphasis mine]

          The author's thesis is that the cul-de-sac increases the number of car trips by making neighborhood destinations like the drug store inaccessible on foot.  If true that would increase the number of times cars back out of the driveway, and all things being equal that would increase the absolute number of driveway mishaps.

          Now you're free to refute that thesis, but if you don't, you're actually the one in the position of introducing an unidentified factor into the argument..  You must either (a) show that the number of car trips will not increase under the author's suggestions or (b) show that some as yet unidentified factor will increase the rate driveway accidents under the author's suggestions.

          Really, it's best to avoid phrases like "classic example of bad methodology" when you're trying to have a civil conversation.  Expressing yourself in that particular way doesn't reflect well on either your maturity or thoughtfulness.  Just state what it is specifically you take exception to, and avoid lumping those things in with other things you don't like.  That invites the author to respond to your specific objections, and not your attitude.

          I've lost my faith in nihilism

          by grumpynerd on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:13:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But that isn't the study. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek

            If true that would increase the number of times cars back out of the driveway, and all things being equal that would increase the absolute number of driveway mishaps.

            It should be a study.

          •  The researcher's thesis ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... since at that point I am relaying the argument of Professor Lucy, is behavioral:

            And because they get lulled into a sense of security, he said, parents don't teach their kids about street safety and the "difference between street and sidewalk and driveway and yard."
            Whether or not Professor Lucy's hypothesis is valid, any supposed science of the relationship between transport systems and risk of fatalities that categorically denies the possibility of behavioral causes on the ground that considering them as possible hypotheses without investigation on the grounds that they are "bad methodology" is blinding itself to possible cause and effect relationships.

            All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

            by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:25:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  he didn't even present data. (0+ / 0-)

              What he's got there are a bunch of hypotheses without studies to test them.  

              Before we can even speculate about causes, behavioral or otherwise, we need meaningful data.

              Relevant comparisons:

              Driveway fatality rates of children, comparing homes with driveways of comparable length, a) on cul-de-sacs vs. b) not on cul-de-sacs.

              Street fatality rates of children, comparing a) children who live on cul-de-sacs vs. b) children who live on comparable streets that are not cul-de-sacs.

              If Lucy had data, he'd present them to back up his hypotheses.  Minus the data, all he has is conjecture, and we have no basis for policy.

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:36:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  that's easy enough to test: (0+ / 0-)

            Measure walking distances to essential services from various points in a suburb.  

            Do this for (test) points on cul-de-sacs, and (control) points not on cul-de-sacs.

            Correlate distances with accident rates.

            If the hypothesis is correct, we should see a positive correlation between accidents and distance, and a significantly higher correlation coefficient for the test condition than the control condition.

            The author didn't do that, otherwise he would have been able to present data to back up his point.

            Minus data, all you have is an unsupported hypothesis.

            Unsupported hypotheses are an unsound basis for policy.

            As for "maturity and thoughtfulness," please put your ad-homs in the nearest composting toilet and then wash your hands.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:24:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  If Walking To The Drug Store Is The Thesis... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            redwagon

            Then you should only use studies taken in neighborhoods where people actually would walk to the drug store, not just give walking to the store "lip service".

            I can assure you that almost NO suburbanites in the Deep South walk to the store for 5 months in the summer and the same is true for Winter in the North.  Suburban Americans will walk their dogs but not to the store!  Commenters of this Diary are truly the exception!

        •  On this ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Old Man from Scene 24, redwagon

          ... "Let's see some peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals.  Otherwise Lucy's hypothesis remains conjecture, unsupported by data.  Speaking of scientific method."

          So basically you are saying that you've rejected it as being prima facie impossible to be true based you not being aware of any published work on the question?

          What particular reason is there for anyone to believe that you would be aware of what published work there is in the area before you decided to attack Prof. Lucy's methodology because you have a bee in your bonnet about some Bay Area property development and street layout issues?

          ""Systematic differences in the interactions at intersections" are concerned with intersections of streets and thus also have nothing to do with driveways."

          This is simply false. Intersections of traffic are not limited to intersections of streets when pedestrians are involved, nor or they limited to being on-street at all. A large number of intersections between foot traffic and motor vehicle traffic can occur off-street, and it would be bad science to categorically deny that the design of the connection of the driveway to the the street or turn-around and the expected presence or absence of through traffic has any impact on the incidence of fatalies at off-street intersections.

          If the argument lying behind the original bald assertion is founded on false claims, I do not see what credibility it is supposed to have.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:40:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i'm applying due skepticism where... (0+ / 0-)

            ... novel hypotheses without data are presented as political rhetoric for the sake of influencing policy.

            Vehicle/pedestrian accidents within driveways are not the same thing as v/p accidents where public sidewalks and driveways intersect.

            If by "intersection" you mean "any interaction between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle," that's a novel definition as well.  Under that definition, the interiors of driveways and parking lots are "intersections," random paths used by jaywalkers while crossing streets are also "intersections", and I'm a kangaroo.

            I don't have to be an expert in a field to recognize when someone who is, does not present data to support his case.

            And apparently you don't have to be an expert in mind-reading to make statements about bees in bonnets.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:05:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The definition of intersection ... (3+ / 0-)

              "If by "intersection" you mean "any interaction between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle," that's a novel definition as well."

              By intersection, obviously I mean "any point where turning or crossing movements are possible between the two}.

              If you don't like a definition of intersection that occurs in the literature, you don't have to like it, but don't claim that I invented it just because you are not aware of it in a field where you have more confidence than expertise.

              For instance, Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections: "We define an intersec­tion broadly as any point where turning or crossing movements are possible for the bicy­clist or the motorist."

              I continue to be unpersuaded by your critique of Lucy's argument, since it appears to be a case of reaching a conclusion first and now trying to back and fill arguments to justify the claim originally made.

              All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

              by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:27:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  It is justified by her major point (0+ / 0-)

      That you must drive constantly. I live in a smallish town. I might not use my car for a week, not ideologically but just not need it. But if I lived in a cul-de-sac I would need it multiple times every day. That heavy reliance on the car is the risk.

  •  sustainability vs. scapegoating: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder

    Here's the acid test of whether a planner is truly interested in sustainable design, or whether they're just on some kind of ideological tweak such as "cars are evil, bash motorists!"

    Signage to warn of car-blocking "ballards" in grid streets.

    1)  Where ballards exist, signs posted at the entrance to those streets e.g. "Through-traffic Blocked", lets motorists know to avoid those streets unless their destination is on that block.

    2)  Without the signs, motorists enter those streets, can't get through, and typically back and turn in the middle of the street to get out.  This they do in a manner that demonstrates frustration, and carries a higher risk of backing into another vehicle parked along the road, or running over a pedestrian or cyclist.

    If the street is one-way and they're forced through a series of diversions that exit God-knows-where, they typically proceed at 1-1/2 times the speed they would otherwise.  In doing so they use more fuel than if they hadn't gone down the blocked road in the first place.  Not to mention the increased safety hazard of increased speed.

    Solution (1) is safe and sustainable.  Solution (2) is neither, but it's favored by "car haters" because it deliberately frustrates motorists.  Which do you see more often?  When I have to drive through Berkeley (CA), I see plenty of (2) and very little of (1).  Clearly someone on the city council over there is getting their jollies by envisioning pissed-off motorists, regardless of the safety or fuel consumption impacts.

    Clue:  ginning up culture-wars and tribe-wars between motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport, solves nothing.  

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 08:55:47 PM PDT

    •  I don't see any one way streets in Ohio ... (5+ / 0-)

      ... that are T-intersections with two way streets that are not signed. Nor do I see a lot of cars go down narrow lanes except on purpose ... people driving around tend to stick to the normal width streets.

      And all streets in my town that do not have an outlet have a "No Outlet" sign. Indeed, sometimes streets that have an outlet are signed "no through traffic".

      Berkeley ... from what I understood from reading for this essay, they do not have side streets that are designed as such from the outset, but have added bollards and other traffic furniture to streets that were originally one lane each way plus side parking streets.

      Those would not be as obviously side streets as a narrower lane would be. What rationale do they give for not signing them as "No Outlet" streets?

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:42:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ohio is doing it the right way. (4+ / 0-)

        "No Outlet" and "No Through-Traffic" signs are how this should be done.  Narrow streets are even better since they favor uniform slow speeds where everything moves at e.g. ten miles per hour.  

        Yes, Berkeley's streets are almost all two-way with parking.  Many have non-blocking large concrete flowerpots at the intersections, and many have "bollards" that block traffic in a manner that can't be seen from the entry to the street.  The concrete flowerpots are nice, the bollards are neutral, and the absence of signage is bad.  

        You attempt to go down some road and then run into a half-blocked intersection with "right turn only" and then in the next block, another of same, sending you in a long loop back to the road you just left.  I've seen motorists trying to turn around in the middle of those roads, maneuvering in a herky-jerky manner that obviously shows they're bloody pissed off.  

        That's an obvious danger to cyclists and to pedestrians crossing those streets.  Not to mention the waste of fuel every time someone has to go through the loop-the-loop and end up back where they started or worse.

        I have no idea what rationale the Berkeley City Council has for not putting signage up at those intersections.  If they can afford the bollards, they can afford the signs, but choose not to post them.  

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 01:48:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ever been to Valencia Spain? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF, redwagon
          Narrow streets are even better since they favor uniform slow speeds where everything moves at e.g. ten miles per hour.
          I saw some scary shit there while driving. Barely a car's width of space - lots of broken side view mirrors on the parked cars - and people FLYING down the streets...

          Also, Rome comes to mind with this comment.

          Just throwing that out there for those of us who have driven on those narrow streets with other drivers who find them to be about as wide as a boulevard.

          peace

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:04:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  AFAIK they do sign them (0+ / 0-)

        as Not A Through Street. Just not conspicuously enough for all drivers at all times. Some neighborhoods can indeed be frustrating if you get off the arterial streets. OTOH, partly thanks to B-town's pedestrian activists, there are extensive footpaths --- unfortunately, mostly in expensive parts of town.

        "Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous." -- Molly Ivins

        by dumpster on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:22:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There's always "Solution (3)": local government (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      or whomever is responsible for transportation in the jurisdiction buys houses at the ends of cul-de-sacs, demolishes them, and connects the streets.

      Solution (1) may be safe for the residents of the particular cul-de-sac in question, but it does nothing to enhance safety of the larger transportation system, and it is certainly not "sustainable" since it perpetuates and lends false credibility to a bad design.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:39:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In areas with very depressed housing markets ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GeorgeXVIII, blue in NC

        ... where there are abandoned houses, Solution (3) might be a practicable approach, converting a back-to-back connecting pair of abandoned lots to a park with a through cycleway and sidewalk next to it, or in some cases a one-way busway to allow an efficient bus loop connecting to a higher speed busway or train station.

        For the local community that is under the pressure of that depressed housing market, it would seem most likely if walkability elsewhere in the community is offering a bright spot in a gloomy housing market, and that particular connection offers a strategic opportunity to extend that into formerly cut-off neighborhoods.

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:20:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  bingo! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blue in NC

        And turn the reclaimed lots into community gardens and play spaces, with bike/pedestrian paths down the middle.  

        That's a smart solution.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:10:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Misc. design items: (8+ / 0-)

    Cul-de-sacs with 8' wide pedestrian/cyclist paths between the "bulbs" or "lolly-pops" at the end, solve for social and bike / public transport (walk to your bus stop) commuter accessibility, and also allow emergency vehicles to get through.  Lighting can be designed with proximity switches so it's only on when someone is using the path at night.  Park-like green space can be included alongside the paths to provide an amenity and preserve privacy for the adjacent back yards.

    "High density" buildings absolutely require elevators, or you may as well post signs saying "parents with infants & toddlers, elders, and people with disabilities, not welcome here."  (Where else but San Francisco, can you pay a million bucks for a house, in which 1/3 of the square footage is taken up by staircases?, and God help you if you become disabled or get older.)

    Everyone who lives to older age will require some form of technology beyond their own muscles, to get around their homes and their neighborhoods.  

    Alternately, we could just go for the Logan's Run solution and kill everyone when they reach a pre-determined age.  That would also solve for overpopulation without requiring employers to provide sinful birth control.

    Public transport needs to operate 24 hours / day, 365 days / year, but clearly it's counter-productive to run large buses and trains when there are few passengers.

    Alameda County (California) Transit has a clever fix: different sized buses for different times of day.  During the commuter hours, they run high-capacity articulated flexi-buses.  During off-peak hours, small 2-axle buses.  I have even seen "mini-buses" similar to large vans on some of the night routes.    

    The BART rail system suffers from the fatal flaw of being shut down in the late night hours, as needed for maintenance.  This was an outcome of the design decision to build it as a commuter system rather than recognize that urban areas run 24-hours/day every day.  Single-tracking across the Bay overnight is a partial solution.  A third trans-bay tunnel would be the correct solution, and a third tunnel across the East Bay hills, etc. etc.  

    The New York City subway system was designed from the get-go to operate 24/7/365, and it's the best urban rail system in the USA.  

    San Francisco's MUNI buses have security cameras, which are a good thing or at least a necessary evil.  But they also have microphones to record conversations (and signage on the buses saying so), for which reason I refuse to ride MUNI.

    Personal safety considerations are a major deterrent to use of public transport that needs to be addressed.  Many people are not using public transport because certain routes are, to put it bluntly, infested with predatory animals.  Criminal law needs to provide for a doubling of penalties for offenses committed on public transport.  

    But the Big Stinker that so far hasn't been addressed, is contagious illness spread via public transport, particularly in this age of anti-vaccine paranoia and the resulting outbreaks of measles and whooping cough.  Vulnerable people such as those with compromised immune systems, tend to avoid public transport during flu season and outbreaks.  There is no constitutional requirement for a religious exemption to vaccination.  The state of Missouri does not allow religious exemptions.  The rest of the states can do likewise.

    Lastly, telecommuting.  Ferocious tax incentives should use carrots and sticks to ensure that any job that does not require workers to put hands on products (or hands on clients, such as beauty parlours), is done via telecommuting.  The advent of VPNs and VOIP makes this a no-brainer.  Control-freak managers can be retrained so they don't feel they have to be able to walk around and sniff their employees like doggies.  

    The high-rises and other office buildings presently filled with desks & cubicles, and employees who sit there all day using the computers and phones, can be re-purposed into apartments.  They already have the elevators and commercial-grade infrastructure to handle the task, all they need are windows that can be opened for fresh air ventilation (taking into account air pressure differentials and the like).  

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 09:36:33 PM PDT

    •  Though note that ... (5+ / 0-)

      "Cul-de-sacs with 8' wide pedestrian/cyclist paths between the "bulbs" or "lolly-pops" at the end, solve for social and bike / public transport (walk to your bus stop) commuter accessibility, and also allow emergency vehicles to get through."

      ... are for existing Cul de Sac developments going to require property taking, and there is no guarantee that lot boundary lines connect properly between the bulbs.

      For a new development, the question is whether it should be designed in the first place as a homogenous residential development with mixed use largely outlawed, with mandatory set backs, and with rules on secondary streets requiring or permitting Cul de Sac street layouts in the first place.

      As a proposed cookie-cutter one size fits all solution, it seems like a design pattern that is both hard to achieve in a retrofit and inexplicably past-bound for new development.

      As far as the the claim that an elevator is "absolutely required" in either a first floor garden townhouse or second and third floor townhouses stacked on top, as suggested here:

      "High density" buildings absolutely require elevators, or you may as well post signs saying "parents with infants & toddlers, elders, and people with disabilities, not welcome here."  (Where else but San Francisco, can you pay a million bucks for a house, in which 1/3 of the square footage is taken up by staircases?, and God help you if you become disabled or get older.)
      ... seems more to be directed at a parochial concern in San Francisco than to qualify as the general sweeping statement for any higher density infill development in formerly low density, single use, single residence and segregated commercial precinct suburban areas. San Francisco is not typical of the majority of property developed in the US in the past sixty years.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 10:39:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  clearly there's a problem in existing development. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blue in NC, BYw, ozsea1, NoMoreLies

        But at some point, if the issue is important, then yes there will be exercises of eminent domain.  If needed, a path can jog around the edges of the back yards on the opposite side, to get to another boundary between two lots.

        We missed a HUGE opportunity to do these kinds of things during the econo-crash of 2008 and thereafter, when properties galore were sitting around boarded-up and vacant.

        Clearly, single-use is absurd, setbacks are absurd, and homeowner association rules requiring lawns are an obscenity in the current drought emergency.  

        Here's another opportunity we missed:

        Eminent domain the foreclosed properties, tear down the buildings, bulldoze the sites, and turn them into community gardens and play spaces.  Override the usage zoning to take foreclosed properties at intersections and turn them into low-level commercial space: "core stores" such as small grocers, hardware stores, pharmacies, neighborhood schools, and the like.  Run micro-buses through the neighborhoods to take people to these destinations and also to connect with larger public transport hubs between suburbs and cities.  Override "lawn rules" to enable turning front and back yards into gardens.

        With those kinds of provisions in place, suburbs can become sustainable small towns, rather than "bedrooms" to highrise downtowns.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 01:58:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just wait 'til global warming intensifies (0+ / 0-)

          the urban heat island effect, and then, while you bake, you can think how absurd it would have been to retain and create setbacks for larger street trees now, in preparation for a hotter climate.

      •  elevators and accessibility and San Francisco. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1, NoMoreLies

        I should have made it more clear that I'm talking about two different things.

        Million-dollar single family houses in San Francisco where 1/3 of the square footage are staircases, are merely stupid. (Typical example:  Parking on the ground floor.  A front staircase to get from sidewalk to main entrance.  Two residential floors, with another staircase between them.)  Anyone who chooses to live in such a place is free to nurture their delusions of eternal youthful mobility, and if it bites them on the ass, that's their problem.  If they could afford to buy it, they can afford to sell it and move somewhere accessible.

        But as for "sweeping statements" as far as apartments and condos go, tell it to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Units that are only accessible via stairs are de-facto disability discrimination and age discrimination.  Staircases are the #1 cause of indoor serious injuries and deaths.  They are a deadly anachronism, like gas lighting in wood-frame buildings, that has no place in anything built in the 21st century.

        Now as it turns out, I invented something to prevent falls on stair cases.  It's ridiculously simple: a ratchet with deep teeth on each side of the staircase, and a pole that fits into the teeth on the ratchet.  Thus you move the pole a few notches in the ratchet as you go up or down each step, and use the pole for support (better than one railing or trying to hold on to two railings).   For getting the grocery bags or whatever up & down, a box with wheels that ride on "rails" located just above and to the outside of the stairs, operated by a winch at the top.  I haven't built this one yet (I don't live in a place with stairs) and it would be a messy contraption and not particularly convenient to use, but at least it would enable people who can walk, to use a stairway safely.

        My personal bottom line is, I invent stuff like falling off a log, so when some unsustainable bullshit or piss-poor design rears its ugly head, I can usually find a way to invent some contraption to conserve energy/water/whatever, and/or make something safer and more usable without consuming more energy/etc. to do so.  

        None the less, to see piss-poor unsustainable design inflicted on the masses because "that's how everyone else does it and that's what the banks will finance" is downright infuriating.  It's also how we ended up with cookie-cutter suburbs with mandatory cul-de-sacs, and homeowner associations with mandatory lawns in a desert.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:19:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Building Codes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mamamedusa

          Building codes might require stairways for egress in the event of fire or power failure...

          •  Stairways Must be Free of Obstructions (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mamamedusa

            Ohio Building Code

            1003.6 Means of egress continuity. The path of egress travel along a means of egress shall not be interrupted by any building element other than a means of egress component as specified in this chapter. Obstructions shall not be placed in the required width of a means of egress except projections permitted by this chapter. The required capacity of a means of egress system shall not be diminished along the path of egress travel.

          •  usually in office buildings... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lurker123

            ... the signage in hallways says that in the event of fire, people in wheelchairs should go into the nearest stairwell and wait for assistance.

            Nice theory.  Works real well for housing too (not).

            The way to do this properly would be to have an interior or exterior spiral ramp structure at an acceptable degree of incline, but that would eat up square footage so property owners would scream blue murder.  

            None the less, we are about to see what happens when the baby boomers start getting old enough to need walkers and wheelchairs.  It's going to be "interesting."

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:19:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I don't see anywhere that I proposed that ... (0+ / 0-)

          "But as for "sweeping statements" as far as apartments and condos go, tell it to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Units that are only accessible via stairs are de-facto disability discrimination and age discrimination."

          ... so I'm having less success working out what the argument is arguing with than I was last night.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:13:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  On Stanford University campus (7+ / 0-)

      they have bollards that prevent through car traffic, but the free buses that run on campus have controllers that lower the bollards so they can pass, then they raise up again, allowing the bus to access the buildings to pick up passengers, thus encouraging public transit use (you can get closer to your class by taking the bus than you can by driving).

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:01:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A similar thing can be done with ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... emergency vehicle access ... but the system does imply a certain density of traffic of allowed users of the passage.

        We have a apartment complex with a single point of car access next to Wal*Mart on our bus route to Kent, where they use a boom gate in the same way, to allow the bus to run through the complex and then on through to the Wal*Mart stop without having to turn around.

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:11:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Meh. I still like my cul-de-sac. I grew up on it, (5+ / 0-)

    learned to ride my bike on it (very safely, in the street), watched it get paved, raced the push go-kart my Dad built on it, learned to pop wheelies (and spin the handle-bars 360-degrees three times before coming down from the wheelie) on it, played 3-man touch football on it (and other games with more people) with the neighbors on it, lit fireworks on it, and have watched it evolve for 50 years. Now, I'm restoring the house, and I enjoy listening to the new neighbors' kids learn to ride their bikes on it, and play on it...  

    Very safe, no traffic, very low-speed cars. I love it! :-)

    •  Is it very safe, no traffic, low speed cars ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... all the way to everywhere you go, though?

      The feeling of relief on getting off of the access road traffic into the suburb is a bit of an illusion supporting the myth that the Cul de Sac is safer, since the access road traffic is created by the no traffic, low speed car Cul de Sacs and Loop streets.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:07:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You Can't Avoid Primary Roads... (0+ / 0-)

        Even if you built 5 parallel roads, people would decide which one(s) would become the Primary Road(s).  And those road(s) would get most of the traffic.

        I was raised on a Court (cul-de-sac) like BvueDem and raised my kids on a one block long connecting road.  Both were safe and great places to raise kids on bikes.

        But some nearby cul-de-sacs and connector roads were not as good because people chose them for their traffic.  Even cul-de-sacs can be dangerous.  Some of our 50's era cul-de-sacs had sidewalks at the ends so we could walk to school.  Lots of foot traffic made them more dangerous.  Not because they were designed more dangerously, but because people decided to use them differently.  You can pour concrete but you can't make people use it!

  •  Love your stuff, Bruce! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson, mamamedusa, BYw, BruceMcF

    We have a few of those between-house ped-bike cut-throughs here in Cobb County, GA (ATL suburbs), though not nearly enough. The ones we have connect streets to ped-bike paths (not nearly enough of those either), not streets to each other.

    On the whole our sprawl & public transit is so bad we were just named #1 county in the USA for difficulty finding affordable housing: http://www.politico.com/...

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 12:32:50 AM PDT

    •  There were a few alleyways (4+ / 0-)

      behind the school I attended as a child -- constructed when the area was developed mainly to make it easier for kids to get to school, in an area where there weren't that many direct cross streets (non-grid system). Now that the school is no longer there, I assume the alleyways are now used to access the park that remains (my mother was very glad that the city chose to purchase and keep the large field that was part of the school playground, as that prevented houses from being built right behind our house.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:04:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wouldn't be surprised if Santa Clara County (4+ / 0-)

      winds up on a similar list -- though our transit is relatively decent and there are still a few affordable areas, low to moderate income folks are being forced out of here. If we didn't have family to keep track of, I'd seriously be looking elsewhere.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:07:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  On this, I do think that ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey

      ... it is easier to get a connection to something other than just more Cul de Sac suburb.

      A hike and bike trail or cycleway/sidewalk combination has the advantage of being able to draw on a variety of prospective supporters outside those looking for more sustainable transport alternatives, since there are the recreational uses of the trail itself.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:04:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  walkability seems to be the latest fad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, G2geek

    in urban planning, a field unfortunately beset with fads.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

    by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:55:33 AM PDT

    •  Different things drive those fads ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... when the Realtors tell urban planners that "Walkability Sells", that would seem to be what is driving this particular one.

      I expect that over the coming decade people are going to get more sophisticated about what components of the walkability index help sell property in their own right, and which features are mostly good to get the number up.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:00:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The cul-de-sac is the child of $1.25/gal gasoline. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, k9disc

      When gas goes to $6.00/gal and stays there,
      suburbs will be seen as the "fad".

      “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
      he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

      by jjohnjj on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:37:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  at that price, cities will be too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

        by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:45:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nah, cities can get by easier at ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          k9disc

          ... $6/gallon than sprawl suburbs.

          Indeed, in areas where there are opportunities for infill development connecting to non-fossil-fueled transport, there could be a bit of a counter-trend development boom.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:33:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and how does one feed those folks? (0+ / 0-)

            give me a big city over a small town or suburbia any day, but everyone will suffer

            Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

            by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:54:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Food is only a problem under ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... moderately high petroleum prices if there is no alternative to diesel truck transport for a large portion of the route, which is more likely for a supermarket out in sprawl outer suburbia than for a grocery store in a city.

              All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

              by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:16:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  The cul-de-sac is the child of $0.39 gasoline. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW

        When gas gets to $6.00, electric cars will suddenly be a lot more popular.  Most houses on dead end streets have garages where car chargers can be installed.  

        "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

        by Calamity Jean on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 09:11:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I hadn't thought about the implications (7+ / 0-)

    of cul de sacs before (being a country boy); thanks for a thought-provoking article.

    What has struck me, every time I visit a home on a cul de sac, is the off-putting psychological space it creates. Because it is not a space where people are regularly coming and going and passing through, the lone visitor with all those houses' faces turned toward him at once can practically hear the neighborhood saying "What are you doing here?" Welcoming it's not. There's no damn place to park your car, further heightening the sense of outsiderness. The insularity of wagons-drawn-up-in-a-circle seems to shout 'us versus them.'

    And on top of that, I shake my head at the impracticality of the lay-out from a liveability perspective. Those long, narrow, wedge-shaped lots on which rectangular houses fit so unnaturally. The impossibility of properly orienting the structures to take best advantage of sun and shade and wind. The fact that everyone's front yards are in everyone else's faces, so no artifacts of life are ever left in the front yards, making the place look abandoned.

    I have always found visiting a home on a cul de sac an extremely creepy experience.

    Beneath the beam that blocked the sky, none had stood so alone as I - and the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there, cried "Stay" for me in the empty square. (The Hangman, Maurice Ogden)

    by DocDawg on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 05:40:09 AM PDT

    •  cul-de-sacs are like small towns (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, G2geek, redwagon

      everyone gossips about everyone else, but they maintain public friendliness.

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

      by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:07:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's a Bones episode about that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:32:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I get how cul-de-sacs and suburbia in general (0+ / 0-)

          are wasteful but seriously, I live in a small "walkable" town now and it's hands down the worst place I've ever lived. the neighbors are not friendly, and not welcoming of outsiders. The cul-de-sac my parents live in is a lot more friendly, despite all the drama everyone has (it's seriously Peyton Place.)

          it also has sidewalks, unique for suburbia, but it's an older subdivision. Not entirely walkable unless one minds crossing the 4 lane highway at the subdivision's entrance to get to shopping and the Metro, but it is bikeable.

          Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

          by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:51:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The culture of a place ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            redwagon

            ... is the culture of a place ...

            ... between regional differences, difference in regional reactions to people from other regions, local variations in different communities, I don't expect I could say anything in general about cultural differences between the two.

            All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

            by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:20:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  "Clustered" housing is another concept promoted by (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BruceMcF, redwagon, martini

            New Urbanism, and there are ways to achieve it other than cul-de-sacs. There is an inherent conflict between the street as a "place" and the street as a "thoroughfare", so it's a tricky balance to achieve. But limited (versus dead-end) access, natural landmarks, pocket parks with playgrounds, and corner markets can do a lot to create a "sense of neighborhood".

            Honestly, the two biggest detriments to neighborly relationships have been air-conditioning and television. After than comes the automobile itself. Why hang out with your neighbors when you can drive twenty minutes to socialize with coworkers and old friends who live across town?

            Expensive fuel is going to change those relationships.

            “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
            he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

            by jjohnjj on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 01:17:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And the "risk" of ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              redwagon

              ... walking over to the pub and your friends aren't there much lower in a cellphone age.

              All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

              by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:08:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  oh i love new urbanism (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BruceMcF

              but they tend to be extremely expensive places. Planning commissions need to make serious efforts to ensure they're affordable.

              I agree about the neighborly relationships and the things that have caused the general fall off in things like bowling leagues and the Lions Club and the like (although online clubs and communities are booming), but I don't think it applies to my town. most people here are somewhat related to each other and don't really warm up to outsiders. After 6 years, the effort on my part isn't worth it anymore.

              Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews.

              by terrypinder on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:56:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, when a community is mostly families ... (0+ / 0-)

                ... that have been there for generations except for the kids they've raised that have gone somewhere else, that happens.

                It seems like the main way that infill would affect that over the medium term would be the development of a second population of newbies.

                All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:54:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  that occurs where lots are tiny and... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      redwagon

      ... houses are over-sized.  In developments built in the 1950s through the 1970s at least, lots were larger and houses were smaller, reducing that "unwelcome stare" effect, though at the expense of more land area consumed by development.  

      The recent trend toward huge houses on tiny lots is IMHO ugly as hell: all the negatives of both high density and low density, with none of the positives of either. Worst of both worlds.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:26:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was confused at first (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    reading about how it turned what should be simple, short routes into multi-mile ones. But once I saw the map I realized the problem.

    the only place I've lived with prominent cul-de-sacs were places that had a large amount of hills. In my neighborhood, the cul-de-sacs didnt result in a longer route, because the area had a bunch of very steep hills. Even the place where the houses were was narrow, with undeveloped land all around due to how hard it would be to change.

    Still, the number of fatalities is pretty disturbing. Im not sure how people could make such mistakes as backing up into their own kids on their own drivway, but apparently they do.

    No light, no dark, no up, no down. No life. No time. Without end. My people called it The Void. The Eternals called it The Howling. But some people call it The Tea Party.

    by kamrom on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 05:48:37 AM PDT

    •  Yes, if you are building in ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... a collection of canyons, Cul de Sacs are more because you run into the back of the canyon. If you need to bore a tunnel or put in a series of escalators to cross-connect the back ends of the Cul de Sacs, that wouldn't be a prime target for the "gridify the Cul de Sac" strategy.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:55:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very interesting diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yoshimi, BruceMcF, Woody

    Kind of cool to see this kind of piece on our built environment on dailykos.com! As a retiring planner for a small, older inner suburb in a large metropolitan region, I've seen some surprising sea changes over the last couple of decades.

    Our city has a grid with alleys and sidewalks in older neighborhoods (1930s - 1940s), grid without alleys and sidewalks in newer neighborhoods (1950s - 1960s) and cul de sacs in the newest ones (1970s - 1980s).  The hottest market these days? Grid with alleys and sidewalks and - not coincidentally - the best access to transit. The real demand is for apartments downtown. People buy here because they can't afford to live in the central city, which is booming. A generation ago they bought here because they couldn't afford a half acre lot in the outer suburbs.

    This reverse of the tide has nothing to do with ideology or policy. It is market driven.

    •  Yes ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... Realtor Magazine is not covering "walk-ability" because they are seeing "Green" as in good for the planet, but because they are seeing "Green" as in dollar bills.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 08:00:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I bought a house this year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    red moon dog, BruceMcF, k9disc

    I am so glad that we bought in a great walkable little town.  I have to commute 20 minutes to work but this past weekend, our car was parked in the garage.  It feels so healthy to walk to everything and it is wonderful to sit on our porch and talk to our neighbors as they walk past.  

    I highly recommend this TED talk by JH Kunstler about this topic.  I think he nailed it.

    •  I might use that for a TED on Tuesday ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      richdpa, redwagon

      ... column in a week or two, thanks.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:44:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Be sure to note the tin eared irony of tacking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF

        a BMW commercial onto the end of a Kunstler speech.

        Thanks for sharing, rich.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:14:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't notice that! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF, k9disc

          I had actually wanted to post the video from the TED site but there was no way to embed so I looked it up on YouTube..  It is crazy that it appears to be hard coded onto the video so it isn't appearing by chance.  It is especially odd because most of Kunstlers writing and lectures are about peak oil and the unsustainable nature of our current existence.

          •  I stuck around for the big reveal and was not (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BruceMcF

            disappointed.

            Kind of made me laugh, a bit, and then it made me think of how much of a great tool TED is.

            peace~

            Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

            by k9disc on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:30:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  More crime on cul de sacs? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    I'd like to see a study on crime rates on cul de sacs vs traditional streets.

    Visibility is a great deterent to crime and I just don't see the same amount of visibility on a sleepy cul de sac as I see on my busy gridded street. Do police officers on their regular drive through a neighborhood make an effort to go down a dead end street if they aren't called there? Probably not.

    •  Criminals also like to be able to getaway ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... however your likelihood of being killed by a car or while driving or riding in a car is substantially higher than you likelihood of being killed by a stranger{+}, so I'd personally focus on what is more empirically likely to be the danger.

      {+ Of course, you are more likely to be killed by someone you know, so perhaps a suburban Cul de Sac development advocate could argue that the isolated life that is commonplace in Cul de Sac development reduces your risk by ensuring that you know fewer people.}

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:50:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's a large cul de sac type neighborhood (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, G2geek

    near me which butts up to another neighborhood, so the total number of houses in the 2 hoods totals up to about 1400, give or take 100.

    It is extremely difficult for visitors to navigate the area, as there are miles of streets that go nowhere, and the only exit points to the neighborhoods total exactly 3. And they all empty onto the same road.

    It is a formerly rural area with explosive growth, so the 3 exits not only exit to a single road, but the road is a 2 lane country road, with a high school in between them and the local highway.

    I hate to even think of an evacuation (local nuclear plant) of 14-1500 cars onto a 2 lane road.

    No neighborhood should be built with exits to only one street, that can only lead to massive problems.

    There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

    by cbabob on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:29:09 AM PDT

    •  Part of the network of cyclepaths ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... on the edge between Portage and Summit counties in the eastern edge of the Akron urban area includes a section that runs through a neighborhood like that, because it includes a Loop street that connects to one main road on the north and another on the west ... and the one on the north has a cycleway that ends at a high school.

      I imagine "you know, its safer for the kids" was used as part of the argument to get local people to accept that as the cycleway extension.

      But I can say from experience, you have to pay attention to the cycle way markers, because its the only path through that neighborhood, and if you get off that route you'll waste time and energy until you've backtracked and looped around again to get back onto it.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:31:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yay for you and this diary! (5+ / 0-)

    I've been working on these issues on the local level my whole career.

    My cousin lived on a  cul-de-sac that backed up to a large shopping center. His parents' yard backed up to the shopping center property, which was cut off by a large fence. It was about a mile to get there on the street.

    So, he knocked down the fence. Guerrilla pedestrianism!

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 09:35:04 AM PDT

    •  When we lived in Australia, we had something ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... similar, where we were on a loop road at the far western end of Newcastle backing up on a swamp ... and you could walk up the road to the closest bus stop, which was by the neighborhood sports grounds ... but there was a yard that had a gap in the fence where kids could go behind the fence for a shortcut to the back end of the park.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:48:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The very term screams for (0+ / 0-)

    an ad on a billboard every time I hear cul de sacs.

    Culd De Sacs are us... We will turn your life around !!!

    The right is about as wrong as it gets and please help veterans ...Thanks ! United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:34:26 AM PDT

  •  Am I the only one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    redwagon

    who thinks the plural should be "culs-de-sac?"

    “Republicans...think American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people... And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” Harry S. Truman

    by fenway49 on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 01:34:50 PM PDT

    •  But, zen, 'ow would you know? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fenway49

      Cul e Culs being pronounced ze same, oiu?

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:06:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

        But "sac" and "sacs" are pronounced ze same too. 'Murricans still could pronounce the "s" if they liked.

        “Republicans...think American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people... And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” Harry S. Truman

        by fenway49 on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:14:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I reckon Murricans like their essess ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... at the end of the pluralized word ... dead-ends would not generate the issue, but in the Loops and Lollipops layout a dead-end is almost invariably referred to as a Cul de Sac.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:33:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Kind of stopped here .. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    processing but your other points are excellent. but this is too sad ...

    "Indeed, "backovers" account for 34 percent of "non-traffic" vehicular fatalities among children under 15 years old. ("Frontovers" account for another 30 percent, meaning that 64 percent of "non-traffic" vehicular fatalities still involve children being run over, according to KidsAndCars.org.)"

    •  Yes, the death toll from cars ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... is painful enough to think about in the abstract numbers. If the reality hits, as it hits me now and again, it can make it hard to read through the tears.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:45:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    for making even more sense of my old aversion to subdivisions -- certainly they're a pain to exit during a zombie apocalypse, by even worse, more common, kids getting run over!? man, didn't even think of that.  just felt... trapped in them.

  •  also, "eyes on the street"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    are you familiar with Jane Jacobs and her work on well designed urban spaces?  having shops that put shop owners and shop patrons in orientation so that they often glance at the street between shops leads to safer streets, more chances someone will notice something amiss and call for help.

    cul de sacs pretty much kill that "eyes on the street" concept, seems people go into their homes in same and just .. lurk.

    Huh, even further, just got an image of people in cul de sacs being glued to TVs and overlay that image with the pod people in The Matrix who were feeding the machine by sucking in the blue pills...

  •  after some thought, my feedback (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti

    walkability of neighborhoods and new urbanism are near and dear to my heart. An issue I have spent a lot of time on professionally and as a volunteer.
    So, my feedback is that, yes! improving cul de sacs to improve connectivity is a great thing. As a prioritization, I would urge people interested in this issue to push more for neighborhood commercial. Ideally, every quarter mile (but it can work +/- at a half mile) there should be a small neighborhood commercial area, as a minimum. This can be a half block of storefronts in a residential area, obviously the better traveled street is the preference or can be some commercial lots at two or three corners of an intersection. Or even all four.
    This does not mean a porn shop or gas station every quarter mile! It can be some retail or offices, best if it isn't dictated in my book, but that is up to the locality. The important part is to identify likely spots and get their zoning changed. I would urge people not to overthink it, too many rules makes it harder, but no rules makes it riskier for the business to know what is acceptable.
    So, any addition to the ideas about dead end streets, I think it's worthwhile to make small zoning changes in every neighborhood.

  •  I live in Massachusetts. (0+ / 0-)

    My daily commute is 21 miles, only 5 of which is on the highway. When there is an accident of bad weather, none of it is on the highway. What does this mean? If you don't live in one of the ancient areas of the country, you can't imagine.

    Everywhere outside of New England where I've traveled, you have to drive on major arteries to get anywhere. If it isn't the interstate-level highway, it is still a 4 - 6 lane road, traffic lights every quarter mile, miserable every inch of the way.

    Around here, though, we have old, old neighborhoods, and most streets connect to some other street. So that's my commute. One 2-lane street after another, scooting through (at 25 - 35 MPH) residential neighborhoods. We have cul de sac developments, too, but we have so very many connector roads. I bought a Prius a year ago on the premise that my commute is perfect for a hybrid, and sure enough: I routinely get 60 MPG.

    Everyone I know is interested in the short-cuts I have worked out. My husband will call me on his way to work to get specific directions avoiding the interstates. My daughter who recently moved to New Jersey is appalled at how few choices she has for getting from one place to another, compared to the many side routes she could manage in Massachusetts. My sister in Maine also has numerous routes to get from one place to another. But outside of New England, it's all one main route fed by lots and lots of cul de sac neighborhoods.

    I realize this is anecdotal, but since we've lived here in MA, I've noticed that with every local car accident involving a kid pedestrian or bicyclist, the kid has lived on a cul de sac. No exaggeration, no exception. I truly believe that kids who live in these cloistered neighborhoods never learn that you have to look out for cars.

    That all being said. my daughter in NJ is discouraged by the fact that not one of the local people she has met has any interest in form of transportation except driving. Her experience is so varied and really fine, but nobody wants to do anything except drive, drive, drive.

    For every occasion there is a song, and for every song, an occasion.

    by mww01833 on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 04:49:18 PM PDT

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