Plumb Lines

March 23, 2009

With Respect to Knots Landing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael E. van Landingham @ 10:51 am

Residents of new subdivisions in Virginia will no longer be able to move into enclaves dominated by an ubiquitous element of suburbia, the cul-de-sac. Commonwealth officials have passed regulations demanding that all new neighborhoods must feature through streets. The regulations also hope to cut down on the strain single-entrance subdivisions place on rural routes as their residents pour out onto them during rush hour, hopelessly clogging some of Virginia’s oldest roads. Furthermore, new subdivisions built under the new rules will come complete with sidewalks and narrow roads, a novelty in suburbia. I could not be happier with these regulations. The demise of the cul-de-sac is necessary to address the problems created by rapid, poorly planned suburban expansion.

My fiancĂ©e, a child of the Northern Virginia suburbs, says I am missing the point. Through traffic will make the streets more dangerous for children, she pointed out. That is true. As a child of an urban residential neighborhood, I never got to frolic carefree in the streets. Since I had a yard, though, and parks, and sidewalks to walk on, I didn’t see need to include the streets as part of my Lebensraum. If suburban residents had a safe, pedestrian-dedicated thoroughfare, they would not need to worry about what is going on in the road, though. Traffic in new subdivisions will certainly no longer be local, of course, but I do not believe the new roads will come to resemble freeways, either. Our car-lined, narrow back streets were always quiet, too; motorists could manage no more than 15 mph on them.

Existing Virginia cul-de-sacs are here to stay, of course, so home buyers desiring to live on one will yet be able to find their dream home. By expanding the concept of neighborhoods beyond that of a few houses on an isolated cul-de-sac, residents’ sense of community will expand. They might even get to know people at the end of the block, perhaps, as they go for strolls on their sidewalks. Commute times will be reduced, and perhaps the new design will make it easier to implement mass transit in subdivisions. The changes will make the community in general safer, too, as first responders will reach their destinations faster and municipalities will find it easier to clean up roads after severe weather. Public goods all.

Michael E. van Landingham



  1. […] A new contributor! Filed under: Uncategorized — David Schaengold @ 10:56 am As the de facto editor of this blog, I welcome Plumb Lines’ newest contributor, Michael E. van Landingham. He “knows about Rap” and “lives in Baltimore,” so he certainly adds important expertise to the blog. He’s gotten his tenure off to a great start with a post about cul-de-sacs. […]

    Pingback by A new contributor! « Plumb Lines — March 23, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  2. I’d respectfully dissent. Meandering cul-de-sacs, neighborhood parks, children sledding on streets; these give neighborhoods character and help create actual distinctions between subdivisions. Rationalizing traffic patterns sounds like a recipe for increased uniformity.

    Comment by Will — March 23, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  3. Great news!

    Comment by Matthew Schmitz — March 24, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  4. […] traffic in the nation: a 2-hour commute is not unheard of. The sprawl has gotten so bad now the Commonwealth has outlawed the construction of any new cul-de-sacs. Yet to this day NoVA residents continue to stonewall the creation of metro lines that could reach […]

    Pingback by The Best of ‘burbs, the Worst of ‘burbs « Plumb Lines — May 7, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

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