Cul-de-sacs Are Making Us Fat

Are the disconnected cul-de-sacs so popular in suburban development actually strangling their communities?

These striking images compare the walkability of two Seattle neighborhoods. The blue lines are how far a pedestrian could go walking from the red dot at the center.

At left is Woodinville, a typical suburban arterial jumble with no walkable areas. At right is Ballard, with much easier pedestrian access between points and to food, goods, and services. Ballard’s walkable footprint is much larger.

New research published in the Harvard Business Review finds those living in more walkable areas travel 26% fewer miles by car. As walkability increases, so does walking and biking, while pollution and fatness decrease.

The problem, The Seattle Transit Blog argues, is that the government, “historically let developers do nearly anything with cheap land.” “We all know what it’s like to have to get in your car to go to the Baskin Robbins in the next strip mall over. Is this an example of freedom? Not socio-economically, for certain. Not if you prefer to walk than drive. And certainly this lack of oversight is not the best choice for the planet.”

The Unintended Consequences of Cul-de-sacs [Harvard Business Review]
The Cul-de-Sac Ban [NYT Magazine]
How Cul-de-Sacs Are Killing Your Community [Infastructurist]
The Damaging Effect of Cul-de-sacs on Walkability [Seattle Transit Blog]
Is the Problem Auto-Dependency or Suburbia? [Seattle Transit Blog]

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