Image: David Roberts/Google Maps
If I was King...
David Roberts has a great post over at Grist about ways to make his neighborhood more "walkable, sociable, sustainable, and safe". He came up with a list of suggestions (as shown on the map) that would make it easier for people to get to parks and public spaces, easier to meet neighbors, walk or bike to stores, etc. It's a great exercise that more of us should do, or at least support the New Urbanists that do it for us.The biggest problem with that particular area seems to be that nothing's connected.
I guess in the '60s developers were in the grips of some pretty awful ideas about urban development. There was a love affair with cul-de-sacs and an effort to make almost every street in my area into one. Cul-de-sacs may feel safe, but their isolation from the surrounding neighborhood makes crime easier, not harder. They also make it difficult to walk anywhere, pushing people into cars, which prevent rather than facilitate spontaneous social interaction
Green Cities are More Fun
Too many cities look like they were designed specifically to keep people from walking around. People had this misguided idea that by keeping foot-traffic away they would be safer. In some cases that might be true, but we forgot that we are social animals, and that by driving community away, we also reduce our happiness.
This bears pointing out: Green cities should not just be the same old same old but with a reduced environmental footprint. They should also be more fun!
Roberts concludes: "For me personally, a neighborhood like the one sketched above would mean that once my boys are a little older, I could send them out the front door on a Saturday afternoon and say, "Be back by dinner time." I'd know there's a bounded neighborhood for them to explore, with linked, diverse spaces filled with people they see them regularly, and who can keep an eye on them. It would mean a community."
What About Your Neighborhood?
We'd love to hear your thoughts on the area where you live. Could it be better? Any obvious problems? Any great features that should be duplicated elsewhere? Let us know in the comments below, or vote on the TreeHugger Facebook page poll.
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