August 18, 2004

‘One Guy, One Vision, One Nation Stuck In Traffic’

That's MetroWest Daily News guest columnist Peter Golden's summation of highway-focused Robert Moses, whose ideas helped shape the modern car-dependent suburb.

Golden laments the modern vehicle and dreams of a smaller, cleaner alternative that would still give Americans the mobility and freedom they crave.

Good idea, although I'll still push first for the pedestrian-friendly and mass-transit-possible alternative to sprawl. A park-once, walk-to-many-destinations retail center will be a lot less congested than the Framingham/Natick Golden Triange where everyone has to drive from one place to the next (even if they're just half a mile away). Planning centers with multiple routes to the same destinations -- i.e. a street grid -- as opposed to funneling all traffic onto a few feeder roads -- i.e. Rte. 9 and Speen Street -- will also help.

"“The efficiency of the traditional grid explains why Charleston, South Carolina, at 2,500 acres, handles an annual tourist load of 5.5 million people with little congestions, while Hilton Head Island, ten times larger, experiences severe backups at 1.5 million visitors. Hilton Head, for years the suburban planners’ exemplar, focuses all its traffic on a single collector road," notes one of my all-time favorite books on planning issues, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.

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