Cul-de-sacs: more than dead ends?

Cul-de-sacs: more than dead ends?

Cul-de-sacs have been in the news recently (and what other category of road can say that, I ask you?). It seems they are more complicated beasts than we thought.

The familiar view of the rounded dead-end is on display in this story in the Post. I read it when it was published a few weeks ago and found myself nodding at the list of charges it hurls at cul-de-sacs: They force people to drive on big roads for journeys that are very short as the crow flies. They are costly for the state to maintain, even though they function like private roads. They drive up response times for ambulances and fire trucks. They’re bad for the environment, bad for society, and anathema to your hipper members of the planning crowd.

Caught in the act on Pantops. Photo by Jack Looney.

And now, clear your mind of those ideas and check this out. Go on, read it. O.K., now let’s discuss.

How about that! The unenlightened cul-de-sac may actually make it easier, in some ways, for people to live green. If, instead of hiding inside their home theaters with the vinyl shades drawn, cul-de-sac dwellers venture outside and get to know each other, they can marry their splendid isolation with a Twin Oaks mentality that lends itself to greenness.

This makes me think about where I live, which is a dead-end road in Nelson County. It’s not suburban by any stretch, but it is a tucked-away, low-traffic road where, in fact, neighbors are friendly and helpful. If I wanted to start a cooperative chicken coop there, I bet I could. Anyone else getting green with their neighbors? Any dissatisfied cul-de-sac denizens who want to weigh in?

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