The cul-de-sac's redeeming quality: Spaces for children
My wife and I both grew up on cul-de-sacs.* These popular elements of 20th-century housing subdivisions have come under considerable criticism. However, there's a lot we can learn from their biggest success: providing safe and visible spaces for children.
We've discussed the flaws of the cul-de-sac before. By limiting street connections through a subdivision, they force all traffic onto major arterials, creating congestion and leading cities and counties to constantly widen them, making them even less pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.
It's much harder to walk or bike to other houses, to school or the store when the only route is a very long one, especially requiring travel on a major arterial. Buses have to take circuitous routes or stop far from most houses. Snowplows, emergency vehicles, and other municipal vehicles have to follow longer routes at greater cost.
However, while urbanists and municipal officials aren't fans of the cul-de-sac, many people who grew up on one loved it, at least until they were teenagers. Cul-de-sacs provide one major advantage over standard grids: a better environment for kids' play. In the new book What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs, a collection of essays pondering Jacobs' ideas in the modern day, Clare Cooper Marcus argues that the New Urbanist push for street grids over cul-de-sacs neglects the needs of children.
Continue reading this post by David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington here.
David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.
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