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Thread: Coherent argument about cul-de-sacs

  1. #51
    Quote Originally posted by mazlin View post
    Residents have also closed off the back-lanes, under utilized if not useless bits of public circulation space.
    Sorry, slightly off-topic moment, as it's not about cul-de-sacs, but I thought that I would mention that most towns that I have been in in the UK still make use of their cut-throughs, ten-foots, whatever the locals call them. They're considered very handy by pedestrians, cyclists, dog-walkers, children playing and so on. They're often used for rubbish collection istead fo the front of the houses. They're not heavily used, but most people who have them nearby would propbably miss them because they make everyday use of them. But then, they tend to exist in the "poorer" areas - bearing in mind that there are very few poverty stricken people in the UK. I myself live below the poverty line, but have a tv, car, computer, etc, so I'm only poor in comparison to my neighbours.

    So, anyway, it seems a shame to me that these back-lanes aren't used.
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  2. #52
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    I think the use of cul-de-sacs is more of a problem of lots of individuals owning comparatively small parcels. They want to develop it, but basically, most of them own around 15 acres. When you develop in a piecemeal fashion, cul-de-sacs are a natural outcome. Not a very positive one, but I don' t know what else you can do.
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  3. #53
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by KSharpe View post
    I think the use of cul-de-sacs is more of a problem of lots of individuals owning comparatively small parcels. They want to develop it, but basically, most of them own around 15 acres. When you develop in a piecemeal fashion, cul-de-sacs are a natural outcome. Not a very positive one, but I don' t know what else you can do.
    Require connectivity and stub-outs to adjacent properties. Adopt a collector street plan before development occurs. Plat paper streets.

  4. #54
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    We do some of it, but I don't think we're winning...
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  5. #55
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    Dead Ends and Cul de Sacs

    People love dead ends because they don't get the traffic and they discourage criminals. The planners are hung up on traffic flow but I am hung up on pleasing my customers so I will continue to give them what they want.

  6. #56
    Cyburbian cdub's avatar
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    You're going to provide cheap gasoline as well?

    The traffic argument is a little old, considering the tree system of cul-de-sacs creates major traffic problems at the base of the tree. Residents then complain about that, not realizing they're the cause of it. Crime will happen whether it's on a dead end or on a grid. More and more suburbs are seeing crime levels consistently rising, so sorry, not safe their either. Guess we should gate it off for safety.

    Is what you're building actually a case of what people want? Or is it more of a case of that being the only option, because people need a roof and stuff and as a society we now accept the lowest common denominator? Fortunately, I hope, people will/ are beginning to demand better and it's only a matter of time until people realize the crap from the good stuff. I think that whole cheap energy thing will help that as well.

  7. #57
    Cyburbian
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    Crime/Gating

    Quote Originally posted by cdub View post
    You're going to provide cheap gasoline as well?

    The traffic argument is a little old, considering the tree system of cul-de-sacs creates major traffic problems at the base of the tree. Residents then complain about that, not realizing they're the cause of it. Crime will happen whether it's on a dead end or on a grid. More and more suburbs are seeing crime levels consistently rising, so sorry, not safe their either. Guess we should gate it off for safety.

    Is what you're building actually a case of what people want? Or is it more of a case of that being the only option, because people need a roof and stuff and as a society we now accept the lowest common denominator? Fortunately, I hope, people will/ are beginning to demand better and it's only a matter of time until people realize the crap from the good stuff. I think that whole cheap energy thing will help that as well.
    Gating it off presents some problems but it is certainly the best solution to keeping the undesirables out. First thing is that the gates are always malfunctioning. The biggest thing is that it becomes a private road and the residents have to maintain it and get no tax break.
    Recently I have noticed that Marion County Florida is refusing to maintain certain public roads in subdivisions. They apparently just want to maintain the collectors outside the subdivisions. I think they probably got this idea when they saw that they didn't have to maintain the private roads in the gated areas. This is going to accelerate the trend to gated communities. If the residents are forced to maintain their roads they are going to want them to be private. The politicians are always faced with budget problems. I think this is already a trend.
    Another big problem: Let's say I develop a substantial piece of land. Something in excess of 50 or 100 acres. I do a gated subdivision. I don't want neighboring properties to access my subdivision because I don't know what type of development they might do in the future. For traffic flow , and other valid land use considerations, the planners will want me to provide stub-outs to adjacent property. I will resist this and if my roads are private I have a pretty good argument. I build the roads in my subdivision to carry the traffic in my subdivision, I don't want my roads to turn into collectors for outside properties. I can't get the county to pay for anything. Now they are looking to force the developers to pay for infrastructure outside their own property.
    We have a problem here. Planners seem to be oblivious to the money end of things. Wake up guys, all your grand schemes cost money and we have an affordable housing problem.
    Does the phrase "champagne taste and beer budget" mean anything to you ? Maybe we are just going to put up with more traffic.

  8. #58
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Inventor View post
    We have a problem here. Planners seem to be oblivious to the money end of things. Wake up guys, all your grand schemes cost money and we have an affordable housing problem.
    Ah yes, blame the planners. I'm not sure to what "grand schemes" you are referring, but I know I follow state law regarding comprehensive planning, then use that to create good development code. You may not like all of it, but it isn't about you. It's about the people who will be living in your development.

    Now, if you want to discuss affordable houses, please don't try and tell us that if your costs were lowered, you'd make the housing cheaper. You, as you've stated numerous times, are out to make a profit. I have no issues with you doing that, either... But don't tinkle down my back and tell me it's raining. You will sell lots and houses for what the market will bear, and if your costs are down, you pocket the difference.

    The real affordable housing, and I use that term with almost a chuckle, really happens when government is more involved, and not less. Developers have been moving away from HUD and state financed projects because of the major strings attached, and CDCs and larger municipalities have, to some degree, filled the void. At least, that's the way it's been out my way.

    Quote Originally posted by Inventor View post
    Does the phrase "champagne taste and beer budget" mean anything to you ?
    Yeah, it means something. Now you can quit reciting it... that's twice. I find it a bit insulting. Unless you've worked in the public sector, you probably have no clue about municipal financing and the problems being faced by cities today.
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  9. #59
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    Iíve read with interest the cul-de-sac debate, and it appears that many argue that the cul-de-sac can provide some things that the grid system does not - namely neighbourhood cohesion, and no through traffic. A modified grid system can also achieve these objectives. Iím not aware of any cul-de-sacs in the many single and two family neighbourhoods of Vancouver (Canada). The grid system is used, but the speed of through traffic is lowered by the use of traffic circles, curb bulges, and narrow streets with on-street parking. In areas where the potential to cut through a residential street is likely, barriers to cars that still allow full pedestrian and cyclist movement can be used. The objectives of a neighbourhood feeling, and reduced traffic flows are very well achieved in this system Ė and the traffic circles, barriers and curb bulges are planted and maintained often by people who live on the street. It gets people off the residential streets and onto arterials efficiently, and allows for great pedestrian and cyclist movement.

    Incidentally, I grew up part time in a cul-de-sac and part time in a townhouse. I think the townhouse won for me, as we had a large common well treed outdoor space with a creek that was open to all the kids, as opposed to fenced in yards.

  10. #60
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by 2plan View post
    Iíve read with interest the cul-de-sac debate, and it appears that many argue that the cul-de-sac can provide some things that the grid system does not - namely neighbourhood cohesion, and no through traffic. A modified grid system can also achieve these objectives. Iím not aware of any cul-de-sacs in the many single and two family neighbourhoods of Vancouver (Canada). The grid system is used, but the speed of through traffic is lowered by the use of traffic circles, curb bulges, and narrow streets with on-street parking. In areas where the potential to cut through a residential street is likely, barriers to cars that still allow full pedestrian and cyclist movement can be used. The objectives of a neighbourhood feeling, and reduced traffic flows are very well achieved in this system Ė and the traffic circles, barriers and curb bulges are planted and maintained often by people who live on the street. It gets people off the residential streets and onto arterials efficiently, and allows for great pedestrian and cyclist movement.
    Vancouver has done a great job with the items you mentioned. A place in the US where I have seen almost the exact same treatment is Berkeley, CA.

  11. #61
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    Take a look at the Radburn superblocks: cul-de-sacs with an extensive interior walkway and park system to make it safe for the kiddies to meet and play. But those feeders betwenn the superblocks do lead to that late night "thump-thump." Why not make the feeders discontinuous in the center of each superblock, with a small visitor parking area surrounded with some benches? Something like Vancouver did to break up the grid but not impede pedestrians. Make local traffic use the outer ring roads, but put concrete pads or pavers and a gate at the center of the feeders so emergency vehicles can still have access.

  12. #62
    Cyburbian
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    Grand Schemes

    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    Ah yes, blame the planners. I'm not sure to what "grand schemes" you are referring, but I know I follow state law regarding comprehensive planning, then use that to create good development code. You may not like all of it, but it isn't about you. It's about the people who will be living in your development.
    Hello Mr. Mastiff,
    I think that you just answered your own question. Your "Grand Schemes" are typically embodied in your "Comprehensive Plans". These plans are giant "wish lists" full of unrealistic goals. Are you not aware that the State of Florida is full of roads that are failing the "Level of Service" mandated by the Comp Plans ? LOS standards are set (by senior planners) at levels that are impossible to fund.
    FDOT standards are ignored in favor of stricter standards. Computer programs are manipulated to cause roads to fail. The whole state is in financial crisis over property taxes. A big part of the crisis is caused by the funding for the infrastucture demanded by the unrealistic goals set by planners. The politicians I have talked to don't have a clue as to the nuts and bolts of these matters. They are being kept in a fog by the senior planners.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 29 Jun 2007 at 1:47 PM. Reason: fixed quote tags....again

  13. #63
    Cyburbian Mercer's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Inventor View post
    The politicians I have talked to don't have a clue as to the nuts and bolts of these matters. They are being kept in a fog by the senior planners.
    Wow, as a Senior Planner, I wish I had the power to keep the "politicians in a fog". Inventor, you must realize that the Planners don't write the Comp Plan per say, generally it is done as a consenus document by citizens, planning commission, planners AND DEVELOPERS. Also, it must be approved by the "politicians in a fog". Your argument holds no weight.

    Back on topic. I laugh when people say the cul-de-sac offers a place for kids to play as one poster did a few posts back. You really want your kid playing in the road? Traffic circles are the way to go. Cul-de-sacs are also a huge waste of land and contribute to drainage problems since they massively increase impervious surfaces. As a developer, you should know that you are generally giving up at least one building lot in order to provide the standard 90 foot cul-de-sac.

  14. #64
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Inventor View post
    Hello Mr. Mastiff,
    I think that you just answered your own question. Your "Grand Schemes" are typically embodied in your "Comprehensive Plans". These plans are giant "wish lists" full of unrealistic goals. Are you not aware that the State of Florida is full of roads that are failing the "Level of Service" mandated by the Comp Plans ? LOS standards are set (by senior planners) at levels that are impossible to fund.
    No, what you think is incorrect, at least in my case. First, our comp plans are mandated by law, and they must address certain issues. It is far from the giant "wish list" that you claim. Until such time as people see fit to deal with a "zero growth" model, someone is going to have to prepare for all the new people who are going to need places to live and the services they require.

    But to answer your question, no... I have no idea what Florida has as problems. I know what problems are being faced in my state, including dwindling funds and increased demand for service. As things change, plans need to be updated. That's what we do. If you see something like an expanded sewer plant as a "wish", then you're going to have serious business problems. Because what you may see as "anti-growth" is a really a political subdivision that cannot afford the cost of improved, upsized, or new facilities.

    You see, I have one up on you... I'm the public works guy as well as the planner, and I can tell you exactly where the issues are regarding infrastructure. Add into that the service deliveries such as police, fire, and ambulance, and you have a whole lot of things that need to be provided to your customers. It's especially tough is states like mine, where your customers have voted to lower their own taxes! So... since we've been given a beer budget, don't ask me for the champagne. Know what? I think I'll write that into the next comp plan amendment!

    Quote Originally posted by Inventor View post
    FDOT standards are ignored in favor of stricter standards. Computer programs are manipulated to cause roads to fail. The whole state is in financial crisis over property taxes. A big part of the crisis is caused by the funding for the infrastucture demanded by the unrealistic goals set by planners. The politicians I have talked to don't have a clue as to the nuts and bolts of these matters. They are being kept in a fog by the senior planners.
    Um, okay... Again, I know nothing of the Florida problems. However, politicians aren't nuts and bolts people, that's why they hire planners and engineers and such. But no "senior planner" does anything like that... unless they are in some very small town. Senior planners answer to department heads and often administrators who give a broad picture to the politicians. Moreover, the politicians approve budgets, and that is when questions are often asked and answered regarding the big issues. But, even further, planners don't set goals, unrealistic or otherwise. Goals are set by City Councils, County Commissions, and other such bodies, not the people doing the "nuts and bolts" work.

    I hope this makes things more clear to you.
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  15. #65
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Inventor View post
    Gating it off presents some problems but it is certainly the best solution to keeping the undesirables out.
    .
    I'm sure you use this argument to sell homes, but it's a fallacy. Every gated community is full of sex offenders, burglars, drug dealers, etc. Residents buy into this myth because of the "undesirable" marketing ploys, but really, do they know what their neighbors have done in the past? Nope. My ungated, older neighborhood has a much lower crime rate than many gated communities in my county. The reason: we know each other and have a lot of older folks who keep an eye out. Oh, and no cul de sacs. No cul de sacs means they have to keep circling the roads where residents will see "that car that doesn't belong". And they call the cops.

  16. #66
    Cyburbian
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    Florida Comp Plans

    Um, okay... Again, I know nothing of the Florida problems. However, politicians aren't nuts and bolts people, that's why they hire planners and engineers and such. But no "senior planner" does anything like that... unless they are in some very small town. Senior planners answer to department heads and often administrators who give a broad picture to the politicians. Moreover, the politicians approve budgets, and that is when questions are often asked and answered regarding the big issues. But, even further, planners don't set goals, unrealistic or otherwise. Goals are set by City Councils, County Commissions, and other such bodies, not the people doing the "nuts and bolts" work.

    I hope this makes things more clear to you.
    Hello Mr Mastiff, Mercer, Zoning Goddess
    I can only speak to Florida issues. Our Comp Plans were mandated by the State about 20 years ago. Model Plans were provided and passed after local input. I am not sure how much input occurred at that time. After 20 years of contant revisions and amendments the Plan now reflects this massive input from the senior planners and in particular the department head, who is in fact the head planner. The public input into the Plan is just for show. I don't think it really amounts to much.
    The membership of the Commmission changes every election cycle. They are clearly not on top of this stuff, and the Planning Board likewise is most often, not always, happy to defer to staff.
    They have been monkeying around with this thing for 20 years and I guess they still don't have it right because the changes never stop. I know that a development process, that once took 2 or 3 months, can now take two years if you can get through it it all. In the end the development is no different than it was 20 years ago.
    Everyone wants the developers to pay for infrastructure that lies outside their development because the counties have not kept up the collectors and arterials. They have squandered the huge windfalls that resulted from the recent high growth and run-up in real estate values. I hear this constant harping that "growth should pay for itself" when in fact, the Florida tax structure has caused the new growth to carry the load.
    People just don't like growth, but they don't complain about the better hospitals, schools, restaurants and shopping, or the modern and efficient law enforcement.
    People just love cul-de sacs, I don't need to convince them.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 30 Jun 2007 at 11:03 AM. Reason: fixed quote tags

  17. #67
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    I dont think the city of Philadelphia has a single cul-de-sac....we're over 200 homicides this year.

    The argument that cul-de-sacs promote/prohibit crime is just bunk.

    There is a giant white elephant in the room, and nobody wants to point it out.

    Developers love cul-de-sacs because they can sell the lots as a premium, they can typically get a few extra lots on the site, you can run a road around an environmentally sensitive area.

    Planners hate cul-de-sacs because: they arent the best option for transportation (but what is in these areas anyway?), the inhibit connectivity, developers love them, its what the people want, not what they planning textbook wants.

  18. #68
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Inventor View post
    They have been monkeying around with this thing for 20 years and I guess they still don't have it right because the changes never stop.
    I'm trying to explain, and you aren't listening. Comp plans are supposed to change with new information. The plans where you work may be great, or they may stink, but if they are stagnant, they are worthless.

    Now back on topic of the cul-de-sac. Start this elsewhere if you must.
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  19. #69
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Inventor View post
    Gating it off presents some problems but it is certainly the best solution to keeping the undesirables out.
    It may -seem- that way, but really you're creating more privacy for criminals to use to shelter themselves from witnesses. You can have some pretty horrific crimes in sheltered communities that would be unthinkable on a more open area because it would be impossible to keep it out of public view.
    Recently I have noticed that Marion County Florida is refusing to maintain certain public roads in subdivisions. They apparently just want to maintain the collectors outside the subdivisions.
    Interestingly, if you develop on some variant of a grid, they can't use that argument, because every road in the development has through capacity. That's less cost for your residents, because the state can't shuffle its responsibilities off onto you.
    Now they are looking to force the developers to pay for infrastructure outside their own property. Planners seem to be oblivious to the money end of things.
    I have a pretty keen head for that sort of thing. Bad housing that forces the state to have to continually re-expand the overstressed arterial next to it is costing a lot of money. Making people drive their teenagers a quarter mile because the previously mentioned bloated arterial is in the way adds even more fuel to the fire, both in health costs that will have to be made up in ridiculous healthcare costs to other people and in road maintenance, as well as lost productivity. The 'affordable housing' issue is in a large part because of the NIMBYs who panic at the idea of a flat being anywhere in sight of them.
    Maybe we are just going to put up with more traffic.
    Oh, I assure you, you'll be "putting up with" a lot more traffic regardless, especially in your tree cul-de-sac. You'll also be "putting up with" things like having to miss work because you have to drive your teenager to somewhere a stones throw away, well within walking distance, because there's a cul-de-sac bloated arterial in the way that makes it damn near impossible to travel any other way. You know the phrase "Mum's Taxi"?

  20. #70
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    We find that cul-de-sacs work fine in our area.

    Many times we have odd shaped tracts that can only be developed efficiently with cul-de-sacs that reach into the odd corners.

    Cul-de-sacs also discourage thru traffic in residential areas. This relates to "gated" communities (or only one or two ways in and out) for a sense of security and child protection. Not so with a gridded system.

    A cul-de-sac system not only protects the young child, but leads him gradually into the world of his subdivision some distances by having basically only one or two ways around in it. He can go as far as he likes in a cul-de-sac and loop system and wind up at the same place he started. Children can easily get lost at the second look-alike gridded street system. Not to mention who might be cruising the neighborhood looking to see if they can "help" some poor lost kid find his house!

    Having cul-de-sacs collect traffic and deposit it onto neighborhood collector streets then thoroughfares is better than a gridded street layout where so many driveways let cars into street traffic that is slows thru traffic - especially when backing onto a street.

    The collection of traffic onto thoroghfares then allows traffic to move much faster to the next destination. Going across town by gridded street is much less efficient. Think of all the intersections, stop signs, and traffic lights that slow traffic movement.

    Have we not improved since the grid?

  21. #71
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    Have we not improved since the grid?
    That all depends on what you're trying to improve. Most of your references were to vehicle traffic - and certainly in many ways a non-gridded system is better for vehicular traffic.

  22. #72
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    I see cul-de-sacs as valuable by in large. They do offer some sense of ease for parents with young kids, and even a feeling of privacy I would bet. However the suburban cul-de-sac is certainly different from the urban. The difference, is in the arterial roadways, and the systems used to move residents throughout the community. Urban areas are more than likely equipped with the neccessary pedestrian walkways, paths, bike lanes and mass transit options. The suburban community may not have those sidewalks or paths that run the perimeter of every roadway. We see those in the parks or only along the major thoroughfares. I don't see the cul-de-sacs as a problem so much as I see the communities infrastructure in the way of moving pedestrians as a problem.

  23. #73
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    Hi there everyone,

    This is my first post. I am an architect/developer in Guadalajara, Mexico. The topic of cul-de-scas caught my attention because here in Mexico their popularity is increasing enormously. Mainly, cul-de-sacs in Mexico offer a safer environment for the people living in them, because of the very high crime rate that governs most of the country's big cities. Like in the U.S. or Europe, there are a lot of detractors of cul-de-sacs in Mexico, mostly architects and planners. They argue that they isolate communities, empty street life outside the cul-de-sac, thus making the street available to delinquents, creating a vicious cycle.
    As a developer, I have found that there are two main visions of cul-de-sacs in mexico. One is of newly created families, recently married couples who want to raise their small children in a safe environment (most cul-de-sacs in Mexi co are gated), and this provides the perfect environment. Others, consider them a higher standard of lving, frequently associated to high-level gated communities.
    On the other hand, some people hate them because they simply cannot get along with their neighbors well enough, and they have a feeling of being trapped. Unfortunately, few people in Mexico know the term community living outside small towns (where communities are really close knitted) as I suppose may happen in any other country's very big city.
    As a conclusion, the abbundance of cul-de-sacs in Mexico is the result of people trying to protect themselves from the outside world, full of crime and drugs, and to the delight of developers such as myself, are a wonderful marketing strategy for selling homes. For the urban environment, however, I consider them a sad reminder of the mistakes urban planners, myself included, often make.

  24. #74
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    As you correctly point out, it's nto so much a amtter of planners/architects/developers making "a mistake". Rather, the dangers of improperly acocmodated auto traffice and (worse) street crime and unpleasnatness make the cul-de-sac attractive, whatever its urbanist drawbacks. It is not an urban plannign issue but rather a law enforcement issue.

    As I've mentioned many tiems before, it think a good compromsie is the 'loop' system (see picture below - disregard the architectural syle)

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  25. #75
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    As you correctly point out, it's nto so much a amtter of planners/architects/developers making "a mistake". Rather, the dangers of improperly acocmodated auto traffice and (worse) street crime and unpleasnatness make the cul-de-sac attractive, whatever its urbanist drawbacks. It is not an urban plannign issue but rather a law enforcement issue.

    As I've mentioned many tiems before, it think a good compromsie is the 'loop' system (see picture below - disregard the architectural syle)

    Surely, I've used the loop system quite often in designs, it is a good idea to provide recereational space within the cul-de-sac. In mexico, we normally call this system "cul-de-sac with common provate areas", unavailable to the regular pedestrian, but only to the cul-de-sac's residents.
    Most of the time, however, and due to economical and space reasons, any regular loop in Mexico's new middle-class developments consists anywhere from 10 to 40 homes.

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