Barry Watkins, 15 Apr 2017
We live in sprawlville. People die here.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can un-sprawl! The sprawl development pattern has been the default way of building things for decades in the US, and a LOT of growth in Brevard occurred during the height of the sprawl era. Fixing all of this and remolding our communities following a walkable pattern is going to be a task that will be with us for a long time. To help us get there, here is our second offering in the “Un-Sprawling Brevard” series:
We need some walkable villages up in here!
The main reason sprawl kills people is the sprawl development pattern favors cars over other transportation modes. It’s plain and simple. If our top priority is making things convenient and easy for car use we will not be making places that are safe for walking or cycling. Our priorities are directly creating the outcomes we are experiencing. Easy, convenient (and necessary) car use = death. Sprawl literally kills people by causing extreme car-dependency, by creating high vehicle speeds, and by bottle-necking car traffic onto a small number of high-volume roads and intersections that are dangerous to cross and to walk and cycle anywhere nearby. Here are just a few other ways sprawl hurts and kills people: https://www.fastcodesign.com/3028661/slicker-city/urban-sprawl-get-fat-stay-poor-and-die-in-car-crashes
Solutions? Here’s a big one – convert our sprawl into walkable villages.
In all of our cities and our county we need to make a resolution to create walkable places. This works in new and existing development. A great and proven way to accomplish this anywhere in Brevard is to adopt the SmartCode (smartcodecentral.com). Set the SmartCode in motion and allow walkable village centers to emerge throughout our county. Ideally, we would plan a walkable village- or neighborhood- center within an easy walk of homes throughout all of the developed areas in our communities. I would say, set the bar high but be realistic. Set an immediate goal to provide the zoning for a walkable center within a 10 minute walk of at least 50% of our county’s residents. Start in the highest density places and work our way outward.
We can also stop any new sprawl development from occurring anywhere in our cities and county by setting high walkability standards for new development. Any newly planned development should be planned as part of a walkable neighborhood as defined in the SmartCode. We have plenty of existing car-dominated sprawl. We don’t need to build any more of it. We can meet any perceived “demand” for sprawl by building places that are both walkable and diverse.
Next entry let’s look at a couple of examples of how some standard Brevard sprawl can be converted to walkable villages.