Sidewalks are great (our neighborhood has them on one side of the street and not the other (which seems like an odd compromise). But if you build sidewalks, for example, you have to maintain them, which means you have to pay to maintain them, which needs you need money to pay to maintain them, which means you need higher property taxes (or bonds or homeowners’ fee or whatever is appropriate for a particular situation). Also as the population becomes older and more diverse, what people are looking for from a community becomes more diverse, and at the same time the population is become larger and larger, so there’s less room to accommodate all this stuff.
But if you build sidewalks, for example, you have to maintain them, which means you have to pay to maintain them, which needs you need money to pay to maintain them, which means you need higher property taxes (or bonds or homeowners’ fee or whatever is appropriate for a particular situation).
This applies to building roads, too—especially if you’re making more, wider roads. In terms of cost, I think sprawling suburbs can be quite expensive to build and maintain.
Also as the population becomes older and more diverse, what people are looking for from a community becomes more diverse, and at the same time the population is become larger and larger, so there’s less room to accommodate all this stuff.
I think more pedestrian friendly communities—which include mixture of building types and higher density—would be more appealing to older population. Why? Because it allows them to be get to where they want to go without driving. I had an uncle who lived in San Francisco until he was about 80. He never owned a car or drove but he could get around in the city—either by bus or transportation. He had health problems so he had to come back and live with my grandmother on O’ahu. Well, because he now lived in a suburb, he had to be chaffeuredwherever he went. Not only was this inconvenient for everyone else, but it made him really dependent on others.
And if what people’s needs become more diverse than we need to build more of these mixed-use communities (at least in places like Hawai’i), where sprawling suburbs are about the only option one has.
I like in a place that used to be more rural sugar plantation community, and I think when they built new homes (maybe in the 50s), they sort of used the same layout (which didn’t have sidewalks), and just put in new suburban, tract-style homes.
Debunking the Cul-de-Sac is a short article about the safety of created by cul-de-sacs and other features associated with modern suburbs. The article is relevant to the discussion regarding the way design affects behavior (which can affect social capital, imo). Here’s an excerpt:
In their California study, Garrick and Marshall eventually realized the safest cities had an element in common: They were all incorporated before 1930. Something about the way they were designed made them safer. The key wasn’t necessarily that large numbers of bikers produced safer cities, but that the design elements of cities that encouraged people to bike in places like Davis were the same ones that were yielding fewer traffic fatalities.
These cities were built the old way: along those monotonous grids. In general, they didn’t have fewer accidents overall, but they had far fewer deadly ones. Marshall and Garrick figured that cars (and cars with bikes) must be colliding at lower speeds on these types of street networks. At first glance such tightly interconnected communities might appear more dangerous, with cars traveling from all directions and constantly intersecting with each other. But what if such patterns actually force people to drive slower and pay more attention?
“A lot of people feel that they want to live in a cul-de-sac, they feel like it’s a safer place to be,” Marshall says. “The reality is yes, you’re safer – if you never leave your cul-de-sac. But if you actually move around town like a normal person, your town as a whole is much more dangerous.”
This is the opposite of what traffic engineers (and home buyers) have thought for decades. And it’s just the beginning of what we’re now starting to understand about the relative advantages of going back to the way we designed communities a century ago.
Marshall and Garrick took the same group of California cities and also examined all their minutely classified street networks for the amount of driving associated with them. On average, they found, people who live in more sparse, tree-like communities drive about 18 percent more than people who live in dense grids. And that’s a conservative calculation.
I’d like to take a closer look at that article, but for now here’s this generally apropos trailer I just came across.
Could be fairly solid. I have not seen any of Hustwit’s films but have heard mostly positive things about them.
The trailer doesn’t seem to say a whole lot about the movie (except that it will deal with urban design/planning) Do you know anything else about the film, Dada?
From what I can tell, the film is essentially just a general exploration of the subject of planning and design as a whole. Doesn’t appear to have a particular angle at first glance.
Anyway, I had just happened to come across it while reading this thread and threw it on here. I was wooed by its occasional prettiness.
Here’s the ‘about’ section from the film’s site: http://urbanizedfilm.com/about/
Social Life of Public Places
is an Atantic post that links William H. Whyte’s documentary about the way people use public places (mostly in NYC). It’s really fascinating as Whyte leave cameras running on a particular public spaces to see patterns of the way people use these spaces. It’s interesting to see that preferences seem common, almost universal in the way people use and respond to the built environment. Super fascinating.
Awesome, Jazz. Now I just need a free hour. Less awesome.
heh. I think it’s worth it though. (Btw, have you looked at the new Cities site at Atlantic? There are some interesting articles that are worth a look.)
No, I haven’t. I’ll check it out.
Judging from some of the articles you’ve brought here it appears I should be looking at the website more often than I do.
Urbanized is now streaming on netflix.