Making Connected Places

David Brooks says: “urban downtowns will continue their modest (and perpetually overhyped) revival, but the real action will be out in the compact, self-sufficient suburban villages.”

That seems likely enough to me (NB: the column makes a variety of other claims I wouldn’t endorse), but of course it simply begs the question of what will the compact, self-sufficient suburban villages look like. Will the roads connecting them to the urban core feature congestion pricing at peak periods? Will commuters have a commuter rail alternative? Will the suburban villages themselves be walkable? And if so, to what degree? Will a fifteen year-old be able to get to his friend’s house without a ride from mom? Will buses connect one village to another along the suburban rim?

In the real world, the answers to these questions are likely to be “it will vary from place to place.” But thinking about these things is crucial. In the DC area, the Orange Line corridor in Arlington County in the “suburbs” is much more of a walkable, transit-accessible series of neighborhoods than are some parts of the city proper. And the areas around the Blue Line in Arlington and some of the Red Line stops in Montgomery County are like that to a lesser extent.

Bitter Lake, Seattle (cc photo by GypsyFae)

Bitter Lake, Seattle (cc photo by GypsyFae)

Consider that all as backdrop for Dave Roberts’ excellent post on how his neighborhood could be tweaked in the direction of walkability and sustainability.