Saturday, January 30, 2010

7. People Love an Easy Walk

In villages of the old world, people walked everywhere, to work, to market or store, to school, to church, and to eat with their friends. They had contact with others along the way. Easy physical contact with other people kept them from feeling isolated. Historically, people not only knew their neighbors but everyone else in town, the simple result of walking their village.

Image above shows children walking home from school in an urban setting.
What happened to the fun or drama of chance meetings along the way? What happened sudden rainstorms, the wind in your hair or the pebble in your shoe?
These issues are truly important to consider and re-introduce to the built environment.

Image above: Sentimental yes, but learning to find their way in life!

Cycle Paths
When the school or library is just too far to walk to, bicycles are great and take up very little space.
It is so much cheaper and easier to provide for cycle paths than for cars. Get a copy of "Cycle-Friendly Infrastructure: Guidelines for Planning and Design".

Note how narrow an effective a cycle path needs to be.

But, people love cars too!
Yes, cars are fun to drive. Some are beautiful to look at. Men of the world have fallen in love with seductively curvaceous sheet metal that their wives will let them keep as an allowable mistress. This is a personal favorite, the Alfa Romeo Spider. Yes!

The exhilaration of speed is an added bonus. But tell me where can I still find a winding country road that is still fun to drive without the fear of being flagged down by a state trooper? Perhaps in the countryside just outside the village?
Cars represent personal mobility. One can get from one place to another choosing ones exact destination, the range and speed. One can carry items too large to carry by hand. Automobiles also represent personal expression. This is a key element of how drivers choose their vehicles. In a world where home ownership is out of reach for many people, the automobile becomes the biggest investment one will personally make. The desire to have the car reflecting one's personality through color, design or brand, is a near-inevitable result: the sense of personal freedom and independence. Even though there is increasing pressure on auto makers to provide smaller electric or hybrid vehicles, the need to buy and use cars is not likely to disappear.
Before we look at how cars should be accommodated in new projects, let us next examine just how bad planning has let automobiles destroy village life.

1.Provide your development with a pedestrian core where even small children are safe to walk.
2. Provide cycle tracks to more distant locations.

Images: 1)emergentstructures 2)thedailygreen 3) 4)cars4fast

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