I have recently decided that I am a Neotraditionalist, and I have experience of growing up in the suburbs to thank for that.
Neotraditionalist ideals that I agree with are among the following: a degraded quality of life in automobile dependent cities, communities designed for the automobile inhibit walking as a safe and convenient way of travel, and a need for pedestrian-friendly street systems, much alike the “eyes on the street” ideals of Jane Jacobs.
I also live on a cul-de-sac, which makes my suburban living experience even more secluded, so much that I miss the sound of cars passing by. Property on cul-de-sac’s are said to be higher in price because they are generally proven to be more private and less prone to crime. But for me, the cul-de-sac I live on is just a dead end with no activity, and is the ultimate bad case suburban scenario.
Most suburbs lack sidewalks, adequate public transportation, and have nothing to do with economic efficiency. Some people will disagree, but I personally find the fact of having to drive everywhere totally impractical and potentially avoidable with better planning.
Suburban areas in my city can be considered as small pod-and-collector systems, where secondary roads can often be alternative routes to drive, but not always the most convenient. Travel throughout the city is easy with an automobile because once you leave the small pod-and-collector systems, you can travel along fast moving arterial roads or US Routes, but it is practically impossible to walk along these roads without seeing your life flash before your eyes.
And as much as I enjoy Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, I highly disagree with his theory of decentralization. What he thought would be privacy and reflection of personal lifestyles in a living space, is actually the worst nightmare for a teenager or preteen’s activity life due to seclusion and lack of transportation. If you can’t drive, you must be driven everywhere and when I was younger it was a big inconvenience to both my parents and me. Once teenagers are granted their greatest wishes of obtaining a license and (if they are so lucky) a car, it reeks havoc on the town with them let loose on the roads. Lifestyle goes from not driving and being isolated to being able to drive wherever you want with little to no practice, with no trace of public transportation in between. It’s not safe, but that’s how it is, and accident rate among teenagers is definitely higher in suburbs compared to urban areas, conducted from personal experience, because teenagers have no other choice of transportation.
In my opinion, transportation and connectedness of a city are the most important factors to instill in the planning of a city.