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Snapshot: Why we are so car dependent

Here’s a small example that I have cut from the 2006 Aerial photos of Indianapolis. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and it’s something that was mentioned in the landmark book Suburban Nation. Even houses that are geographically right next door to a commercial building are usually separated by a fence or wall.

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10 Responses to “ “Snapshot: Why we are so car dependent”

  1. SuzyQ says:

    Wow, that is crazy to think about – but true!

  2. CorrND says:

    I still need to read Suburban Nation.

  3. David says:

    You can thank zoning codes for that. God forbid houses and commercial buildings relate to each other in any way. They have to be separated into their own little worlds. I’m sure the fences were required in order for the buildings to be approved.

  4. Kevin says:

    Yup, the rigid separation of uses needs to go, now.

  5. Kevin says:

    Another thing to think about too, especially coming from probably one of the few “Evil Conservatives” that reads this blog…the sprawl so nicely pointed out is also mostly due to there being a requirement for a fence due to zoning regs as david states…but also I’m sure the company’s lawyers insisted on it due to liability issues. Since our society is so litigious, I’m sure if some kid wandered into the parking lot and was hurt in some way it would be the corporations fault and they would be sued.

    In other pedestrian-centric countries and manufacturing plants I’ve been too, they also are much less worried about a lawsuit so they can open up their property for the workers walking up from the neighborhood. Here, in today’s environment, that’s impossible in the US.

  6. Kevin says:

    BTW to the readers, that last Kevin that posted isn’t me, so I’m not talking to myself.

    People shouldn’t have to walk through parking lots in order to get somewhere. But often, that is the only option.

  7. thundermutt says:

    Or if people do have to walk through parking lots, there should be some guideways.

    Let’s say that every so-many rows of parking, a walk-aisle would be mandated in between the fronts of parked cars. Such an aisle would have tall curbs with three-foot tree lawns (WITH TREES!) and a four-foot sidewalk in the center.

    Presto! Better pedestrian access to the building front from parking or the sidewalk, and some urban heat island mitigation with trees. Good design of the grass strip might also allow for some stormwater runoff mitigation.

    Okay…call me a “greenie”. But I’m not. There is actually research from the West Coast that shows people are more likely to choose a strip mall with parking-lot trees over a competing mall without trees. If I can dig up the cite I’ll post it here later.

  8. SpeedBlue47 says:

    You should point that information out to developers then, and then they can read into the research and see if was done in a scientifically sound way. My problem is that you you propose to MANDATE something else, when the last mandated regulation(the zoning and separated uses) caused unintended consequences. I know that everyone has their idea of the ideal circumstances and how they think any problem can be “solved”, but unfortunately life isn’t that simple. The world is about trade-offs and we have to wonder if such a policy being adopted BY FORCE OF LAW would on net bring any sort of benefit. Of course, the happy pedestrians are seen by everyone, but the people who are affected negatively by your proposal will not be seen but may be felt in ways not easily traced back to its cause(this proposal).

    Now, I’m all for the ending of such nonsense as forced separation of uses – I’ve stated my preference for the Coming of the Nuisance doctrine here and elsewhere on the interwebs several times. But I think “deregulating” property usage by replacing one set of restrictions with another will work as well or worse than “deregulating” power utilities by doing the same thing.

  9. thundermutt says:

    speedblue, there are always unintended consequences of everything. Trying to avoid all unintended consequences is just like trying to plan everything: it requires a state of perfection (or a perfect legal system for adjudicating disputes).

    I think the unintended consequence of your libertarian land-use philosophy would be a legal system even larger than the present one, and a society even more dominated by lawyers and lawsuits. Ugh.

  10. Clay says:

    I’m sure you’ve seen this, but I just came across walkscore.com. Granted doesn’t take into account what you are referring to, but still pretty fun.

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