Last week I posted this article from The Atlantic about how urban design--specifically long blocks and meandering street patterns--can lead to less walking and poorer health for residents. The cul-de-sac in particular gets a bad rap, a feature that leads to homes that are literally and figuratively cut off from the surrounding environment. So reviled is the cul-de-sac that they are often banned, or at least discouraged, in newer planning codes. I've recommended such code language myself.
But I have a confession to make: I live on a cul-de-sac.
Actually, here's the real confession: I love living on a cul-de-sac.
This sits uneasily with me, given my extensive knowledge of the reasons I shouldn't like cul-de-sacs. I know my cul-de-sac interrupts a grid network that's clearly desirable, given the number of people who hop the neighbors fence at the end of the cul-de-sac. I realize that I have to travel an extra three blocks every time I leave my house to go to the grocery store, and that I'm more likely to drive because of those extra blocks (well, I'm probably not more likely to drive, but my neighbors might be).
Even so, I love the fact that there is (seemingly) less traffic on my street. I love that my kids can play soccer in the space in front of my house, and I love that our neighborhood can do things like, say, shut down the street with orange cones and set up an obstacle course for toddlers as part of an annual block party without getting grief from the authorities or needing a street closure permit.