A potential carfree site
- All interested,
I've been tracking a up and coming transit-oriented development in
Loudoun County Va (rolling hills, near horse country, rustic area).
There is a Metrorail stop coming in 2010, and the County wants to have
a mixed use development New Urbanist style. I've been working on the
Board of Supervisors, 7 of 9 of which are solid smart growth champions.
I've been pressing a carfree approach for the core area, which the
developer is hesitant about. See http://www.moorefieldstation.com for
the preliminary concept plan. However, the zoning ordinance is
undergoing a change at the present time, and the lead supervisor is an
admirer of carfree areas, having traveled to Europe and seen them firsthand.
The concept is a bit foreign in this area, as everything else is 100%
car-dependent. However, there is now a budding bus system as well, and
Flexcar and Zipcar have established carshare programs at dozens of other
sites on the Metrorail network.
This site is 100% greenspace and virtually flat; a perfect blankslate
for a new carfree district, with room for sports fields, parks, and
community gardens around the periphery. Joel helped out by coming up
with a preliminary concept plan.
- Will's suggestion is the best one I've seen.
Arcosanti is too remote, lacking jobs; the inner-city 4x4 grid would not
be able to shut out motor traffic completely, although it could be
limited to walking speeds, m-a-y-b-e... [Venice might not have cars,
but it is very dependent on watercraft for many of the car functions
(and its not transferable to many place)].
The idea of building a new community around a Metro stop is not far from
Peter Calthorpe's "pedestrian pocket" idea. One hasn't been actually
built, although his Laguna West development in Sacramento, has _some_ of
the features. [See his 1995 book, "The Next American Metrolpolis." It
Such a site would be the best combination of isolation and still be
linked to a city economy, and services and cultural attractions. Being
pretty much level, means that cycling will be very easy, especially
cycling a) with cargo, b) cycling by marginal riders, and c) cycling
under weather constraints.
Access to car-sharing _from the beginning_ is also absolutely
essential. The parking for these cars should be on the periphery,
ensuring that local shops and transit are more "convenient." Having an
internal transit system, perhaps using a van that can be used for
delivery work as well (not to mention as a cargo-carrier for the
car-sharers) would be also essential. The communal parking lots should
have a supply of cargo carts (strollers would probably continue to be
_personally_ owned, as are its occupants)
These features should be carefully modelled, so that merchants and
employers can be attracted, being shown how these unique characteristics
Now, will the board or supervisors listen to you, unless you have the
$$s to show that you can make it happen (since politicians don't, or
aren't willing to "grubstake" what is eventually going to be private)?
But then, you could remind them of the potential for (green?) tourism
that would come from being the first to "get it right."
Another thing that should mention them is the taxes situation, which
another Matt H. mentioned. On the whole, certain expenditures would go
down, but in a carfree environment, there is a higher order of sharing
things, which, for a community that has parks, they will simply be used
more (they also cannot be all on the fringe, with parking lots; but
rather scattered every few blocks, with wide sidewalks around _and
If the neighbouring increases (as I contend it will), costs for police,
social services, and public health should drop, as well. And, transit
might not need to be subsidized.
However, they will get nervous that its residents might be asking for
things that they would then have to provide to other parts of the
county. To keep that from becoming a problem, suggest they recognize
the area as a self-governing village (not of the stilted variety, like
Disney's Celebration), which has the power to tax to provide whatever
the local population might need. But, on the other hand, the new
village council should ask for annual rebates for the savings _it_
experienced from the new urban form and community spirit.
Matt also mentioned the visitors wanting to parking in front of your
door. Well, what they will get is a nice walk, and one without even as
many conflicts with drivers as they regularly get in a mall parking
lot. What better introduction to a friend's community!