A Better Way to Connect Neighborhoods

I wrote about this principle awhile back and then saw it in practice while out riding today so I think it’s worthy of  a rehash.  I’m talking about connectivity that doesn’t include automobiles.There are many such examples to choose from around the country, but this one is more obvious than most.

People generally dislike automobile traffic racing through their neighborhoods.  This wasn’t much of a problem before the early 1960s because not many people had cars and those who did tended to drive a little slower than folks do today.  Back then,  most communities had streets laid out on a grid.  If you wanted to get across town you’d start out east or west and eventually turn north or south and you’d get to where you’re going.

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Traditional pre-1960s Grid Pattern

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Post 1960s Development Pattern

That all changed in the 1960s.  The dead end was rebranded as the cul-de-sac and developers abandoned the grid in an effort to slow down motorists.   It became much more difficult to get from here to there by car.

But people still crave connectivity and increasingly neighborhoods are choosing to connect via trail and footpath even when no car connections are available.  I saw this earlier today in South Ogden.  The connection was hidden in plain sight.  I’d tried to find it on a previous ride and missed it because there are no signs to guide outsiders like me.  I needed to study Google Maps but once I knew where to look there it was.

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Trail access is between the left and center house.  There’s no sign identifying it, and so it looks like a driveway.

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Only after you get off the street is there any indication that you’re on the right track.

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The South Ogden Nature Park is in a natural ravine.  You can easily access the Ogden Athletic Club and neighborhood on the north side by bike or on foot. Automobiles have to take the long route.

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The green line shows bike access from the neighborhood south of the park to the Ogden Athletic Club while the red line shows automobile access.  

This is an example of a deceptively simple, inexpensive and elegant piece of bicycle infrastructure.   It didn’t cost much and it serves double duty.  To the casual eye, it’s just a park in a ravine, but to residents it’s the most direct route from Point A to Point B.  It improves quality of life on both sides of the ravine.  That’s a win-win.

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