End of the Road for the Cul-de-sac


Lucas Oleniuk, the Star

Peter Gorrie of the Star makes some interesting points about cul-de-sacs. Owners love them; Gorrie describes one family: "The Bennetts love their enclave. It's quiet and friendly;a safe place for not only road hockey but also learning to ride a bike or sled down a mound of snow in the centre of the turning circle. Their parents all know each other; visit while their kids play, watch each other's homes and sometimes sip wine together on a Friday evening."

He also teaches us the the derivation of the term: "Cul-de-sac began as an old French hunting term: It translates, literally, as "bottom of the bag "– where snared rabbits were shoved, face down, to keep in the dark and restrict their motion."

Owners may love them but planners and environmentalists don't; Gorrie writes:

"Cul-de-sacs consume vast amounts of land.

They create car-dependent zones whose inhabitants spew four times as many greenhouse gas emissions as downtown dwellers. All that driving creates traffic congestion as all those vehicles pour on to a limited number of collector roads.

Since residents spend so much time behind the wheel, abdominal spare tires quickly replace six-packs. A widely quoted American study concluded that people on cul-de-sacs weigh nearly three kilograms more than those in traditional grid neighbourhoods of straight streets and right-angle intersections.

Isolated and insular, they become cesspools of self-absorption and pettiness that turn their backs on the wider world. "People who live in a cul-de-sac are out of touch with the rest of their community and most likely do not know much about the folks who live behind the fences of their blocked-off streets," complains a recent report from the American Planning Association.

They inspire crime: A British study says the burglary rate is 30 per cent higher."

Wow. That's a lot of evil for a road pattern, I had better tell my mother-in-law to move, pronto. More at ::The Star

Tags: Cities

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