New Neighborhood Designs
For the last 50 years most new neighborhoods have been designed for heavy automobile use, often making it difficult to walk or ride a bike for transportation, exercise or recreation. But that’s changing as developers come to understand families’ desires to live in places where they can bike, walk and play safely in their neighborhood streets. In both Europe and the U.S., some newly built communities now balance bike and pedestrian access with automobile convenience, resulting in healthier people and safer streets.
(right) A recent study from the National Association of Realtors found that access to biking and walking trails is the second most important amenity for homebuyers today.
‘Car Light’ developments gaining ground
The latest trend in Dutch urban planning is auto luw (“car light”) developments. A shining example is Java, a desirable new neighborhood in Amsterdam’s harbor where motorized traffic is channeled to underground parking garages on the edges so people can leisurely bike or walk. Kids run freely through the green common spaces, and everyone seems to enjoy strong connections with their neighbors. According to
Amsterdam city council member Fjodor Molenaar, “car light”
is now the official planning policy of the city.
(left) ‘Car light’ neighborhoods like this one in the Netherlands, families enjoy easy movement on bike or on foot.