It’s been only fifty years since automobiles with internal combustion engines took hold and we got sprawl. Most of the folks who launched or sustained this unique-in-human-history scenario are very old (and for the most part no longer on the road) or aging (and terrified of losing their wheels).
The demand for walkable communities, however, is still uneven. By and large Americans love their cars. And sprawl, with its dendritic systems of cul de sacs, non walkable connector roads, and ugly arterials, has brought suburban traffic to a halting slog. No place illustrates this better than Greater Washington DC.
So it’s good to see that pedestrian advocates there have planned a celebration of inner city weekend walks. Twice a year, WalkingTown DC organizes a host of tours and invites the public. Tours focus on neighborhood development, cultural history, gardens, cemeteries and the like. Here’s the schedule for May 30-31. The blog post author has presented the key information in an unusually inviting format
One way to create pedestrians is to invite people to walk. In my hometown in upstate New York, a couple of miles of old rail line through swampland was converted to trail a couple of years ago. People tried it, liked it, invited their friends along and now they’ve had to expand the parking lots at either end! But still, in the midst of suburbia, they are discovering the joys of walking and meeting neighbors along the way.
I’m impressed by the blog Greater Greater Washington. Written by well informed citizens, it covers a range of urban planning issues across an intriguing hodgepodge of state, city, country, and town jurisdictions and federal lands.
Update: Why have pedestrians become nearly extinct? What is the greatest threat to life as we want it? Cul-de-Sacs! Here’s a new video (less than 3 minutes!) from the Congress for New Urbanism.