(sub) Urban (non) Simplicity

A couple things. Firstly, I have no idea where this photo is from, but it could be a shot of any suburban street in America (I found the photo and the below cartoon here). And secondly, if you are a suburbanite reading this I mean you no disrespect (I spent my teen years in the suburbs), I just think that urban living makes a lot more sense (and I am more comfortable there). If you like suburban living that's your choice, I am not trying to tell you otherwise. But from a biker/walker/car-lite person, this is how I see it.

For whatever reason I've found myself in the suburbs for the past three days (and yes, I drove there. It's interesting how I found myself getting tense in traffic situations...on a bike this probably would not have happened. But alas, the suburbs are not conducive to biking...even if I was someone who rode distances (which I'm not) the suburbs are really anti-biking...pictures like the one above are all too common...it is a veritable death game to ride a bike in those conditions. To be a suburbanite is to be car-dependent (please, correct me if I'm wrong). This is the reason I found the below cartoon so interesting (and humorous).

And lastly, on one of my recent trips to the suburbs I was in a neighborhood that resembled the one below (that is actually a suburb of Toronto; the image was found here). As I was getting back in my vehicle I stood for a minute or two and looked around. I feel like such an alien in that environment...it doesn't seem real to me. As I stood there something felt really odd and I couldn't figure it out. All the pristine McMansions with their perfectly manicured lawns (click here), but something seemed a little off to me...then I got it: where were all the people? All those big prefab houses and all I saw were cars in the driveways, but no people. It was, quite frankly, a little creepy.


Premodern Bloke said…
"All those big prefab houses and all I saw were cars in the driveways, but no people. It was, quite frankly, a little creepy."

Sadly, my experience has been the same for every New Urbanist development that I have visited. They had a nice layout that emulated the traditional neighborhoods of old which structurally fostered community but were void of people.

Then I read this article which sheds light on why this is the case.


My conclusion is that the cultural and structural issues are intertwined. Neither will work alone.