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Old 11-29-2009, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Central, IL
3,408 posts, read 3,249,100 times
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I prefer middle ground. Where I live in Chicago isn't as dense as a lot of areas, which I like, it feels less cramped, but if I want to walk to do all my shopping, I could do that as well. Even though I do drive most anywhere I go. I did the public transportation for a couple of months and hated it.
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:24 PM
 
3,368 posts, read 9,891,614 times
Reputation: 1645
Quote:
Originally Posted by city_data91 View Post
I should have rephrased that. I'd like to live somewhere where driving is the most sensible option. I have nothing against walking, it's just that walkable areas most likely have too high of a population to have the streets I described that I like to drive on. I spent 16 years in a suburb of 15,000 that didn't have any public transit so that might be why it wouldn't feel foreign to me if public transit wasn't even an option.

Re-read my description of the types of streets I like to drive on and you will see that I want more than just owning a car and not being overwhelmed by density.

To give you a better idea of where I'm coming from, these are the actual streets I drove on when I lived in Massachusetts and had a car (check out the street view):

typical streets
center street 02019 - Google Maps
955 south main street 02019 - Google Maps

country roads
150 lake street 02019 - Google Maps
1100 pulaski 02019 - Google Maps

a busier/denser street
144 massachusetts 126 02019 - Google Maps

2 busiest streets I ever drove on alone
1145 west central 02038 - Google Maps
http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=1725%20diamond%20hill%2002895&um=1&ie =UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

densest area I ever drove through
diamond hill and garden 02895 - Google Maps

I want to have a car after college, but I'd also prefer the streets don't get any busier than that.
Since you grew up in a very low-density, far-flung "suburban" area and want roads that are no busier than the ones you've shown me, I suggest you move to the country (really!). I guess my perspective is totally different than yours, given the places where I have lived:

madrid spain - Google Maps

south miami fl - Google Maps

boston ma - Google Maps

brooklyn ny - Google Maps
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:33 PM
 
634 posts, read 1,177,578 times
Reputation: 703
Default In my opinion . . .

I'm a fan of density as a general proposition because I rather enjoy the convenience of walking to a local coffee shop, bookstore, library, or grocery store, etc. What's more, as a licensed driver who chooses not to own a car I prefer to avail myself of efficient public transit if it exists. But alas, it doesn't exist where I currently reside. It's my personal belief that urban planning which encourages density is a logical way of addressing concerns in areas experiencing exponentially large amounts of growth, especially if the communities in question are hoping to preserve green space. Committing to urban density does require a bit of selflessness in that the whole idea is that one is willing to dispense with living in a gigantic 5 bedroom house in a gated subdivision 30-45 minutes away from their work place (assuming one commutes from a suburb and into a city for work), because one sees the holistic, ecological, and environmental benefits of such a commitment. The hope--but not always the reality, as poor planning pervades--is to decrease the amount of time people spend commuting, driving, and polluting. In principle, mixed-use development offers more opportunities for people to increase quality of life so that the time which might otherwise be spent in traffic could be used elsewhere. However, you can't just graft this onto any city. That's what's happening where I live. Ridiculous planners are trying to take a sprawly, mish-mashed town and densify its core (and certain somewhat central developments) without the benefit of the infrastructure (like efficient mass transit) vital to density's success. Similarly, I'm finding that what is often overlooked in these efforts to encourage density is that you can't always teach an old dog new tricks. There's a culture to responsible city-planning. It has to be promoted for the right reasons and the truth is that oftentimes those reasons are massively inconvenient. For example, while I'm a big fan of density and would love to live in a truly dense, urban city, I can see how some people would prefer expansive, outlying suburbs because they're just accustomed to them or feel such environments afford their children with certain opportunities. That being said, I'm aware of quite a few people who have managed to raise stable, successful families in urban environments. In some respects, people are just spoiled and like big things and want to take up as much space as they can without much thought to the long-term impact. And I say this as someone who is not the world's greenest person.

Also, I'm a big fan of not having to use a car to get places. The public transportation where I reside is abysmal. But in cities with genuine public transportation infrastructure it's always been a divine treat to know I can hop on an express bus or train and find myself in the museum district in less than thirty minutes. I take a book or play Scrabble on my iPod, and I'm good!

Density isn't everyone's preference, but I'm a fan because I believe when done correctly and it's a sound approach to a community's growth issues.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:20 PM
 
Location: Long Island/NYC
11,158 posts, read 15,276,166 times
Reputation: 5939
Quote:
Originally Posted by supernerdgirl View Post
Not really, if you think about it.

Say I'm in my car and some idiot in front of me wrecks. I am then stuck in my car while the wreck gets cleaned up, adding who knows how much time to my commute.

- If I was on the bus on the same street, I could get out and begin walking either to a different bus, or to my destination.

- If there was a train available, I could pass through the wreck area either above or under ground (at least here in Chicago) without stopping.

BUT! If I was in my car, I'd have no choice to stay sitting in it, then finding a place to park it once i got home, worrying about
a. if I parked it correctly so as not to get a ticket
b. idiots who could possibly break into or hit my car.

Not having a car you're not shackled to the money you have to spend on all sorts of crap to maintain a car.

Yes, you may be a "slave" to waiting for the bus, or train, but at the same time you do have other options.
That can really go either way though, I was in a similar situation less than 2 weeks ago, there was a fire and the bus I was on had to sit in the same spot for 30 minutes (it wasn't just my bus either) while cars were just turning the other way just breezing through. I missed most of my Midterm because of that crap lol, luckily I (and other students) got extra time the next day. My 4 bus commute is about 2 hours (both ways combined) but if I'm driven it takes 30-40 minutes (both ways combined).
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:43 PM
 
Location: St Louis
1,117 posts, read 2,432,127 times
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I consider density one of the most important aspects of a major city. It promotes walkability, use of public transit, street retail, and vibrant neighborhoods.

It is often overshadowed by overall population but population figures can be misleading. For example a city like San Antonio is one of the top 10 largest cities but only has a pop density of 2k/sq mile. While an older city like St Louis is the 52nd largest city but has a much higher pop density of 6k/sq mile. In my opinion the density figure paints a much better picture in terms of a vibrant healthy city.

I am comfortable in a city with 5-10k people per sq mile.
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:17 PM
 
5,236 posts, read 12,872,194 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighPlainsDrifter73 View Post
I'm not into density at all - in fact I despise it. I'm used to driving everywhere to get everything I need in life including work and prefer that method. However, I do consolidate trips and make stops usually after work. I shop once a week for groceries. My life seems rather busy and I try to minimize stops. Where I live in the exurbs, things are so spread out that driving is mandatory unless you like walking miles for things. I like things that way. YMMV.
Perhaps your life seems so busy because you have to do so much driving?
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:45 PM
 
Location: New Orleans, United States
4,230 posts, read 8,447,034 times
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I like having a car, but it adds up.
Gas ($2.40 a gallon)
Parking (having to find, then paying for parking, ie: $1 parking meter vs. $4-$8 an hour in a garage.)
Maintenance
Traffic (more gas)
Residential Permit or/fee ($25-$100+)

If I lived in a sprawled place it would be the same minus the parking, but everything would be much further in distance so the cost of driving more with longer distances and more traffic would probably offset the parking cost if it's not more. Plus, the maintenance would probably increase since the car is being used much more.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:29 PM
 
Location: New Mexico to Texas
4,552 posts, read 12,628,837 times
Reputation: 2071
Quote:
Originally Posted by WestbankNOLA View Post
I like having a car, but it adds up.
Gas ($2.40 a gallon)
Parking (having to find, then paying for parking, ie: $1 parking meter vs. $4-$8 an hour in a garage.)
Maintenance
Traffic (more gas)
Residential Permit or/fee ($25-$100+)

If I lived in a sprawled place it would be the same minus the parking, but everything would be much further in distance so the cost of driving more with longer distances and more traffic would probably offset the parking cost if it's not more. Plus, the maintenance would probably increase since the car is being used much more.

but if you live in a small town then its not bad at all when everything you need is within 5 minutes away with no traffic.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:46 PM
 
Location: New Orleans, United States
4,230 posts, read 8,447,034 times
Reputation: 1386
Quote:
Originally Posted by desert sun View Post
but if you live in a small town then its not bad at all when everything you need is within 5 minutes away with no traffic.
Good point.
But wouldn't getting something more than a basic need require a road trip?

If you like small town life than that will work out perfectly. No lines, no traffic, no congestion.
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Old 11-30-2009, 02:28 AM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
13,856 posts, read 20,998,963 times
Reputation: 6602
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago60614 View Post
I've always thought of "walkable" in the terms that I can walk and get 90% of my life accomplished within a short distance and at little to no difficulties. I mean you could put amazing sidewalks in the desert, but unless they take you somewhere useful what's the point? Growing up we had sidewalks in every single suburb - but unless you're walking 30-60 minutes to a grocery store or a mall (which no one ever did), the sidewalks were just for randomly walking around for exercise, or walking to a neighbors house.
I think that is how it's used on sites like this. When I first heard the term "walkable" I assumed it referred to being a place where you can walk everywhere. So like pedestrian safety, good lighting, accessibility, and so forth. Instead it does seem to refer more to everything being in "walking distance", particularly short walks. It apparently doesn't have much, or anything, to do with whether a place is a pleasant and safe environment to walk. It's more about walking being more convenient than other things in said environment. So in theory a "walkable city" could be a place where people don't necessarily want to walk they just do it because it's more convenient.

I guess I can relate to that in some respects. I do like areas where the shops are all close together like plazas and even some malls. However everyone living bunched up and clogging the sidewalks or streets is something I'd be too old to adjust to. I like being able to just stroll along peacefully.
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