July 14, 2004

A ‘Smart Growth’ Pedestrian-Friendly Community

What does a 'smart-growth' pedestrian-friendly community look like? In Millcreek, Pa., it means "a general store that reduces the need to drive and it features behind-the-home garages, sidewalks, walking trails, homes with front porches and acres of usable open space. In addition, single-family detached homes and townhouses are located on the same streets," according to an article on the National Association of Homebuilders Web site.

It's not simply about dense development. Even communities with traditional densities can be "smarter" growth and more pedestrian friendly by the way they're designed. One key is not to have an endless row of large garage doors as major frontage to the street -- that's really offputting to walkers. Have inviting doorways fronting a pleasant sidewalk -- like the Victoria Gardens townhouses in Saxonville (thumbs up) and NOT like the latest prefab developments just down the street which are walled off from the streetscape and present an unappealing pedestrian vista (thumbs down).

It's a shame that builders of the new townhouses on Nicholas Road chose to have ENORMOUS garage doors as what most fronts the street (not only are the garages not tucked out of view; they're even closer to the road than the doorways) along with a lot of pavement but no sidewalk. Sigh. The larger apartment complex across the street is actually more pedestrian friendly.

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