Suburban Pedestrian Blues

According to a groundbreaking TAP expose by Ben Adler, in suburban communities designed for driving and allowed to evolve over decades, it’s tough to be a pedestrian.  Conversely, managed communities designed around walking and built all at once are much more pedestrian friendly.

Who’d have imagined?

Photo by Flickr user Lester Ralph Blair, used under Creative Commons license.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Here in my Chicago home I have a nice-sized yard, a comfortable home, and I’m within walking distance of the bank, the drug store, a grocery store, my church, and five restaurants.

    I’m within a mile of an Ace Hardware, the post office, the public library, and an Irish pub.

  2. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    Urbanism is, in my opinion, at the forefront of domestic policy issues today. Essentially all of the money spent in American exurbs and suburbs after WW2 was wasted, and will need to be wiped out and rebuilt. Of course, that is going to take many decades. But suburbs simply aren’t economic engines the way a real city is. Even a small town with a walkable commercial district and residential-over-retail housing patterns generates more economic activity than a pure residential-only, no-thru-traffic suburb.

    I don’t really understand why Joyner is mocking this article. It’s quite well-written and informative.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    I recall sitting in a planning years ago and my city’s head of the planning department stating that for the last forty years they were doing it wrong. Yet they now want us to think they are doing it right. Perhaps they are doing it right but using history as a guide I doubt it. Planners are notorious for following fads.

    Those old cities with mixed used, they were not planned but grew organically from what developers and businessmen knew would work. Nowadays try putting a market in where you know it will work but planners have zoned it otherwise and see who wins. I would say they are less “planners” and more “reactors”.

  4. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    It’s not planners, it’s the residents. The planners are powerless against supermajority groups of homeowners who think they know what will raise their property values. They are the ones demanding separation of commercial and residential. There’s a city in Arizona that has five elementary schools but no middle schools and no high schools, because none of the subdivision developers wanted to put in the high school. If that city had any planning code whatsoever, they wouldn’t have that problem.