In Levy’s chapter on urban design, I went through a moment of self-discovery. “Neotraditionalists argue that excessive dependence on the automobile degrades the quality of life in many ways” This is how Levy describes Neotraditionalists and after reading it I realized I hold very similar beliefs and opinions. I especially related to Duany’s quote that highway engineers “want cars to be happy”. After spending a lot of time in the downtown of New York City and on the College Ave campus of Rutgers, I feel so restricted when I am in other places where there is a larger dominance on cars.
With this new Neotraditionalist eye, I will take a look at the types of design philosophies that permeate Edison, the city I reside in.
First, just stepping out of my house I see a key characteristic of conventional suburban design, “spaghetti streets”. As you can see from the pictures above, no matter which way I look the road and residential properties just extend on as far as the eye can see. This affects every day life, by forcing people to own a car to get anywhere. A point that Levy brings up is that children less autonomy because we have to be driven everywhere and this was a reality that I lived.
Another side effect of this is that the public library is located on a busy road, which might make it more accessible for cars but it destroys any possibility of people deciding to walk to it because crossing this road is too dangerous.
Due, to the very strict zoning there is no diversity or mixed use of the land. The shopping center shown above supports a large area but is not close to any residence and requires anyone who wants buy groceries or eat a restaurant to drive. This explains the massive parking lot and the many cars captured in this picture as well.
Edison, isn’t completely plagued by conventional suburban design. I did find common spaces like parks that are both accessible by walking and by automobile. And even more surprisingly, there seems to be some Neotraditionalist urban designers operating in Edison because some of the new development in south Edison seem to be following some tenants of the New Urbanism movement. As you can see below, the building complex being developed has mixed use buildings with businesses on the first floor and condos on top. And behind this building is a mix of single family and multifamily buildings. I think that this very large development project shows a shift in the urban design of Edison and we might see more New Urbanism design philosophies being brought to reality in the future development of Edison.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 11th ed. New York: Routledge, 2016. Print.