Love Your Neighborhood? Then Learn to Hate Your Streets

Indianapolis neighborhoods are great. Our city consistently ranks as a top location for inexpensive housing costs. With our diverse and creative citizens, the neighborhoods have always been full of interesting people who care about their communities.

Indianapolis' Urban Neighborhoods are a great value

Increasingly, our urban neighborhoods are under threat.  Everyone recognizes how crime, pollution, and blight can ruin an area, but few people realize that the greatest risk to communities is one that we invite welcomingly – the automobile. If you are a young American, there is nothing more dangerous than the keys in your pocket.  Nothing is as likely to kill or seriously injure you than travelling on our road system.  The illusion of control that a steering wheel provides is just that, an illusion.

How many neighborhoods would you trade away for an urban highway?

But there is no need to reject the automobile as a form of transportation.  We only need to reject our street designs, especially those which encourage excessive speed and hierarchical structures.  There are alternatives.  With modern street designs (see guidelines by Complete Streets), we have the ability to transform our neighborhoods into perfect places to raise a family, go out with friends, or just spend some time on the porch watching the world go by.  We can build a safer road system, we can make streets friendly and attractive places for pedestrians, and we even can make cars optional instead of mandatory.

Infrastructure is destiny; which vision of Washington Street will we choose?

Conventional American street layouts sacrifice neighborhood livability for an optimized automotive scheme.  Why would city designers be so willing to sell our souls for the privilege of driving faster?  Because we asked them to.  The solution to this problem is simple:  if you are tired of unregulated high speed traffic carving up your city, endangering our children, and loudly emitting pollution from the tailpipe – then learn to hate your streets.  We need to tell our political system and highway designers that we have changed our minds.  Indianapolis deserves better.

There are few topics as important to 21st century urbanism as our transportation system.  That is why you will hear so much about it from Urban Indy’s writers.  This stuff matters.

See my earlier posts on transportation for more information:

Adding Value through Better Street Design
New Transportation Plan for Indianapolis
Connecticut Study Supports Dutch Street Design Model
Investing in Transportation Madness

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