Monday, November 14, 2011

Leucadia cul-de-sac

Dead ends where there are no strangers or through traffic are still great for little kids.


  1. Huh? No strangers? What's that about? Strangers are just people we haven't met yet. The world is full of strangers - so what? Strangers per se are not something to be feared, nor should children be taught to fear people just because they don't know them (they do need to be taught how to be aware of what's happening in their surroundings and how to judge when things/people don't seem right and what to do about it, but fear seems to be an easy sell to the masses these days). We have been headed in the wrong way on this stranger issue for at least a few decades.

    Community spirit doesn't develop based how a street is shaped, it's developed because of the people involved and their willingness to get to know one another and be involved with one another. Neighbors on cul de sacs can just as easily remain strangers as those on a grid-street, if they so choose.

    I hadn't thought about it before, but I've lived most of my almost 50 year life on or very near cul de sacs in several very different regions & neighborhood types in the US (though the very narrow one block street I grew up on in a historic riverside neighborhood was simply called a dead-end street with a turnaround, not a cul de sac). I've never known the presence or lack of a cul de sac (or lack of through traffic) to be a dominant factor in whether a group of neighbors "gelled" into a great community or not. Usually it's friendly people finding interests in common that creates a great community spirit, i.e., similar aged kids, a love of gardening, or an, ahem, a threatening community issue.

    Excessive cul de sac formation creates neighborhoods that discourage efficient pedestrian navigation. My own neighborhood is cursed with a plague of cul de sacs. It takes 20 minutes or more to walk (briskly!) to a house I can see from my own back yard. If the streets weren't laid out in such a meandering go-nowhere fashion, it would only take 5-10 minutes. So people get in their cars instead.

    Sure, sometimes it does make sense to create cul de sacs, i.e., the street must end because of natural barriers like rivers, lakes, parks, forests, highways, or otherwise established structures. But neighborhoods tangled with go-nowhere meandering dead end spouts (primarily so that kids/dogs can play in the street?) make little sense to me. Excessive numbers of cul de sacs in a neighborhood actually fuel the neighborhood traffic problems that make people seek refuge in cul de sacs in the first place, because cul de sac "flowers" simultaneously require bigger "stem" streets to convey cars going in and out of neighborhoods, rather than spreading the traffic out over a more diffuse area with multiple entries and exits. The trend toward cul de sac based neighborhoods is like an infectious virus that we just can't seem to shake.

  2. Wow. No Grain knows their shit. He speaks the truth. With the exception that every stranger is a stranger and should be viewed as such. Primal instincts still prevail. The rest is worthy especially about connectivity.

  3. I don't understand how "traffic flow" is more important then the intrinsic values a Cul-de-sac offers. Our cul-de-sac is more then a means to drive cars on, it is synonymous with community in every sense of the word. It is an extension of every home on our street facilitating neighbors meeting,conversing and an opportunity for kids playing. I'm sure neighbors can have a sense of community on a pass through traffic friendly street but having to teach my kids to ride a bike for the first time while cars speed by doesn't bring a sense of comfort like the safety a cul-de-sac brings. For those without kids/dogs, I can see the reasoning for traffic friendly streets but to say that cul-de-sacs don't have value is mistaken.


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