Smart Growth and Cul-de-Sacs

(4/8/13) – IE Transit Talking Points Short

Cul-de-sac streets have long been a top market item for tract developers but a bane for urban planners. Conceived as a way to decrease traffic on residential streets, they cause the unfortunate side effect of making a car necessary for almost every kind of trip. However, there are a few faithful developers who are getting smart by searching for ways to emulate the grid system for pedestrians and cyclists.

Smart Growth and cul-de-sac residential streets can coexist. Many newer developments and master planned communities have attractive and safe interconnected pedestrian/bicycle access points placed between cul-de-sacs and other areas. Such layouts eliminate through automobile traffic while allowing everybody else multi-modal, carfree connectivity and through-access to other areas of the neighborhood, activity centers, and main streets by emulating the traditional grid development system. For private communities, such points can be gated.

However, to be fair, the majority of existing cul-de-sacs are still dead-ends for all. Studies have confirmed major side effects of these dead-end streets. One study shows that those who live along interconnected streets travel 26% fewer miles than those who live near or on cul-de-sacs without pedestrian/bicycle access points. Have there been any developer incentives to allow those on foot or on the bike pedals through-access at planned cul-de-sacs?


  1. Cul-de-sacs have been very popular in Southern California because they offer a choice to home buyers of a safer street of less traffic to raise children and less crime as thieves prefer greater exit / escape opportunities.

    Bikeways and pedestrian passageways for cul-de-sacs only open-up communities to transients and crime.

    Let's be factual, your above article is only pushing the ideals well established by the U.N.'s Smart Growth AGENDA 21.

    Smart Growth's full plan is only the dumbing-down of America. It makes very scary reading for Americans.

  2. We suggest you visit Temecula, Murrieta, and Irvine where such concepts have worked for years. These access points within the master planned communities have pumped up marketplace value because pedestrians can access the main through-fare, through-bicycle paths, and other areas without deviating around several blocks.


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