Planning for pedestrians, not cars
Irony of ironies.
For nine days, new urbanist Andres Duany and his team have been in Atlanta working on ways to design pedestrian-friendly communities that welcome all generations.
And on Tuesday, the day of his last presentation, one of the out-of-town participants was hit by a car at a crosswalk at Courtland and Ellis while walking from her hotel to the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The woman was in Atlanta with the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the key sponsors of Lifelong Communities planning endeavor.
It just so happened that Sally Flocks, executive director of PEDs — an advocacy organization for pedestrians, was participating in the planning effort. Flocks told me Wednesday evening that the woman was taken to Grady Hospital and that she’s going to be okay.
But the accident points to one of the dangers of our automobile-dependent society — a lifestyle that Duany repeatedly criticized. In his eyes, the car culture has run its course.
Lifelong Communities worked on development models for five sites in metro Atlanta. The idea was to retrofit existing areas into becoming places where people of all ages could live.
In his final charrette presentation Tuesday, was on stage for nearly three hours (I had to leave during the first hour), according to Grace Trimble with the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Trimble said most folks stayed nearly an hour beyond the scheduled closing time to hear Duany’s views on how metro Atlanta can better serve our region’s growing elderly population.
“Suburban sprawl is unsustainable,” Duany said. The evidence is playing out with the troubled American automobile industry, which will produce only 10 million cars a year, basically enough cars to replace older ones.
Duany said the suburbs require every adult to have a car to get around. And because of congestion, driving to and from the suburbs has become a chore.
“In the old days, we had apartment houses downtown that were absolutely attractive to older folks,” Duany said. “You could walk around for your daily needs.”
Those are the kind of communties we need to recreate for today’s older population.
Agreed. But those in cars will need to be extra careful not to strike pedestrians — young and old — who are crossing our streets.