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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: You need less space living in a good neighborhood

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  • Chris Bradshaw
    ... I live in Canada, specifically, Ottawa, the national capital and fourth largest. I live in the Glebe (the name refers to the status of the lands before
    Message 1 of 16 , Aug 7, 2002
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      > Do you live in Europe or Canada?

      I live in Canada, specifically, Ottawa, the national capital and fourth
      largest.

      I live in "the Glebe" (the name refers to the status of the lands before
      development, as lands belonging to a downtown church, used to rent to
      farmers, giving the church extra income). It is about a square mile,
      with a population of about 12,000 in about 8,000 households, half of
      which are rented. We are served by two north-south and two east-west
      bus routes.

      We have about 100 retail outlets, which are less neighbourhood-oriented
      than before the car became ubiquitous. But we do have the following:

      2 grocery stores, plus about 20 other food stores (including 3 bakeries)
      2 liquor stores and 2 beer stores (they are government monopolies in
      Ontario)
      38 restaurants and take-outs, including 7 pubs (they stay open until 2
      a.m.)
      1 laundromat (two closed in the last two years)
      3 pharmacies
      1 hardware store
      2 video outlets (plus a few videos avail. at 3 remaining corners stores)
      1 pet-supply store, plus three vets
      2 gas stations and one repair garage
      10 bookstores (there were 15 ten years ago)
      2 community centres (one for seniors)
      3 elementary schools, 1 high school, 1 montessori school
      5 coffee shops (our tea house closed about 4 years ago)

      Thanks to high property values and slow driving speeds on our main
      street (Bank Street), very few chains have moved in: Body Shop,
      Pizza-Pizza and Pizza hut, and McDonalds (not on the main street,
      though). A good sign of commercial health is the growing number of new
      businesses that locate around the corner, in basements, and on second
      floors (there are also a number of apartments above stores).

      And, yes, these amenities translate into needing less space to live in.
      And, with 1) transit, 2) a high likelihood of flagging down a taxi on an
      arterial, and 3) two car-sharing vehicles (provided by my company,
      Vrtucar), there is little reason to own a car (a major exception is poor
      transit service for "reverse commutes" to the suburban business parks,
      which means that street parking is tight overnight).

      I have often thought of developing a "neighbourhood integrity" index to
      find the most self-sufficient neighbourhood in North America. I would
      think ours (which my wife and I "discovered" in 1981, although we lived
      in it when we were married in 1969 before moving to the burbs where our
      parents urged us to live) would be among the top "scorers."

      In general, Canadian cities have a number of "advantages" over American
      cities. With the climate, we have smaller yards, emphasizing indoor
      space. With more unified municipal government, we have more compact new
      development and few "poor neighbourhoods." With more racial integration
      (and a smaller population of "blacks"), we never experienced
      neighbourhood upheavals. With no federal powers over urban affairs, we
      don't have the downside of strings-attached grants to build urban
      freeways and clear, wholesale, older urban areas. I also think (I was
      raised in a Canadian-American family, living the last half of childhood
      in Ohio and Denver, and attending a U.S. college) that Canadians are
      less gung-ho consumers, having a more cynical view of advertising (e.g.,
      I think there are more Canadian top comics in our common entertainment
      market than there are Americans).

      Chris Bradshaw
    • turpin
      ... Hopefully, we would not all move to that one. But there IS a tremendous difference between neighborhoods, in the same city. Even cities that suffer sprawl
      Message 2 of 16 , Aug 7, 2002
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        --- In carfree_cities@y..., Chris Bradshaw <chris@t...> wrote:
        > I have often thought of developing a "neighbourhood
        > integrity" index to find the most self-sufficient
        > neighbourhood in North America.

        Hopefully, we would not all move to that one. But
        there IS a tremendous difference between neighborhoods,
        in the same city. Even cities that suffer sprawl and
        other problems sometimes contain neighborhoods that are
        quite convenient. And the identity of these
        neighborhoods now seems almost a secret. Sometimes not
        even the local real estate agents know and appreciate
        the difference -- they just remark in surprise that
        "those small houses sure maintain their value."

        I think a catalog of good neighborhoods would attract
        a lot of attention to the qualities we're discussing,
        and might even make a successful book. I'm not sure
        how to put it together. I don't think it is enough to
        develop a numerical metric and then score neighborhoods,
        even if one could get the raw data for the score. How
        many restaurants, banks, groceries, bars, video stores,
        etc. are within a mile of my house? So many, it would
        take quite some work to count. More important than
        their distance "as the crow flies" is that they are on
        good walking routes. Now: Where do you get *that* kind
        of data?

        It seems to me that such a catalog almost has to be
        compiled by someone who investigates such things in a
        more direct fashion than running city directories
        through a computer program, though that might be a
        good start.
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