I just happened to catch an article over at Fast Company today on New Urbanism.
The video, and the article, talk about some of the environmental struggles that are being caused by the massive amounts of urban sprawl we are seeing in our cities...and that our new building culture stresses cul-de-sacs (which are now being outlawed in some areas) has created a lot of problems in how we live our lives.
"Wouldn't it be great to replace car commutes with walkable town centers? But what the video elides is that many cities actually makes this sort of development illegal, with zoning regulations that actively discourage "mixed use" planning. And many sprawling cities don't have any control over their own borders--developers frequently find it cheaper to simply move further out, rather that work within existing planning frameworks."
I think by and large, people have missed out on a lot in our "new" suburban communities. Additional commute times in vehicles lead to less time spent with families. Time spent in your own large yard replaces time spent in community park areas where you can meet people and socialize. You miss the joys of walking to dinner or the safety of walking home after a night at the corner pub. The cost of running a school is more expensive because kids have to ride the bus to school instead of walking down the street. And we continue to build out -- taking up farmland and natural habitat (and then complain that the deer are bothering US).
I just think it's interesting two of the most demanded areas in this city for people to live, Brookside and Waldo, completely follow this model. Virtually every house in the area is walkable to shops, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and the most popular walking/biking trail in the city. It also (not coincidentally) lays along the route of the busiest bus route in the city.
I still haven't figured out why more areas don't strive to emulate these areas and this form of urban design.Here's another video from CBS that ran awhile back on the same concept and some other areas that are striving for this type of urban design: