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By this definition, any real estate is a "giant Ponzi scheme," since it depends on people after you buying the asset.

Cities are great, but suburbs have their place (in large part because of a) building codes that prevent tall buildings and b) how schools are funded), which the author gets to some extent. If you're interested in the issue, try Edward Glaeser's book The Triumph of the City: http://www.amazon.com/Triumph-City-Greatest-Invention-Health... .




Bulding codes that prevent tall buildings are an asset particulary if you make money from selling petroleum, as they make it difficult to build walkable neighborhoods.


As someone who lived in a suburb and tried going without a car for a (short) while, it is near impossible to get around.

Biking on busy 35mph four lane streets where bored suburbanites go 50mph with no median is a prescription for death by invisibility. I had to double my short-lived bike commute to take advantage of back roads (which was even scarier because bored high schoolers barreling down the hill don't expect you).

Taking the bus to a destination (if it is even possible) can be a maddening version of real-life Candy Land in which you loop around and around and double-back and eventually reach point B.

Cul-de-sacs and the Fleur-de-lis style layout of suburban enclaves make public transportation a virtual no-go as the shortest-path distance from point A to point B is impossible as it would require jumping fences or at the least, going through people's sacrosant backyards.

Bottom line, in the suburbs you need a car to live - to go grocery shopping, to go to Applebee's to meet your friends and carry that annoying table buzzer around like an embarassing vibrator while you wait for your table, to go to the Multiplex, to go park in the deadly silent except for lawn mowers parking lot of your rental apartment megaplex, and (most importantly) to go to the closest major city to escape the burbs for real nightlife.

But, witness the explosion in mega corporate office parks, and realize that the growth was because not everyone wants to live in a city - especially once you have kids. Companies built office parks because that is where their employees wanted to live. Or was it a chicken-before-the-egg issue?


Yeah, what is up with that "Cul-de-sacs and the Fleur-de-lis" layout going on? It's maddening!


It's because the market (that is, home buyers) don't want to live on streets that can be used as cut-throughs to get to other places. As traffic density increases, drivers will try to find shorter or less-congested routes to get where they want to go. The street on which I live (in an area built approximately 30 years ago) is an example of this: it is a wide two-lane street that connects two major roadways. There are other, non-residential streets that connect these same roadways but those routes are clogged most of the time. Therefore, people use my street with all of its attendant problems such as speeding, extremely loud exhaust and/or sound systems, not watching for people walking or biking, etc. So, non-connecting streets became the popular thing to do, along with curving streets to force drivers to slow down.


This design, by the way, isn't just some evil plot by the Robert Moses's and Henry Fords of the world; it's an idiom endorsed by Christopher Alexander in _A Pattern Language_.


I live on the "stalk" of such a development and therefore my street is the busiest. Nonetheless, it is extremely pleasant, as only residents or service people use it. It isn't a shortcut to anywhere. The biggest shortcoming is that no consideration was made for pedestrians. Even though we live close enough that my kids could walk to school, there aren't any trails or sidewalks that offer the opportunity. By road, we're a few miles away, so my kids take the bus. It's kind of sad.


That is exactly what they solved in my community. There are cul-de-sacs but they have also built bike-able and walkable paths between the back yards so you can still cut through if you wanted on foot or bike but cars can't pass through.


They do this frequently in french suburbs (at least the ones I've visited near Tours)


I didn't remember that, so I looked it up. Maybe you are thinking of a different passage, but here's what I found: "... cul-de-sacs are very bad from a social standpoint --- they force interaction and they feel claustrophobic, because there is only one entrance" [p262]. I found other places where cul-de-sacs are acknowledged, but none where they are endorsed.


Sorry, I should have been clearer; I wasn't referring to cul de sacs, so much as street grids intentionally designed to frustrate through- traffic.


Actually -- my suburb has quite a nice compromise. "Cul-de-sacs and the Fleur-de-lis" style for most of the roads. And then stright-line pedestrian/bike paths to join them up. Kind of like this:

          +---------------------------------------+
            |    |    |    |   |    |   |     |
            +- --+    +- --+   +----+   +- ---+
             | |       | |      | |      | |
             | |       | |      | |      | |
             | |       | |      | |      | |      +-----+-+-------+-+------+-+------+-+--------------------+
       |                                                        |
       +--------------------------------------------------------+
It works pretty well. The roads are quiet -- but you can walk/ride really conveniently.


It's easier to ensure that you live on a "quiet street" when the street doesn't go anywhere.


Although I can't cite any offhand, studies indicated that there was significantly less crime in such areas, as well.


Older planned development suburbs had straight streets, and seeing the same house repeated a dozen times is pretty depressing. I always thought it was so that people weren't confronted so bleakly with the cheap repetition.


I know what a coldesac is but I don't know what a fluer de lis is. Could someone help to educate me? Perhaps an Ariel image?


You can google "fleur de lis", it's a relatively famous symbol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleur-de-lis

I don't have a good aerial photo of roads arranged in this manner, but basically the idea is that you have a connector road with clumps of dead-end roads off either side. I'm assuming they come in sets of 3 per side, where one road goes straight and the other two curve away, like the "petals" in the fleur de lis.


Yeah I did find the wikipedia page but I still couldn't picture how it looks on a street.



Thanks friend. Though I don't know why my comment was downvoted he bejesus out of.




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