Saturday, July 07, 2007


One of the things I've become more aware of since I starting riding my bike to work is the layout of neighborhoods. I'm always looking for new routes to find flatter roads with less traffic and it leads me into places I wouldn't usually go. There's a lot of new housing along my route and the thing I've found is that new housing developments are specifically designed not to have through streets. You go in and find yourself in a maze of side streets and cul de sacs and more often than not end up having to come back out to the same place you went in.

At first I thought this must be some kind of metaphor for the individualistic isolationism of American society closing in the family unit while closing out everything else. But as I thought more about it (biking gives you a lot of time to think) and considered how it works in my own neighborhood, I changed my mind.

I don't live on a cul de sac, but my street does loop back to the street it starts on. No one has any reason to use this street unless they live there. But the effect is that I know more of my neighbors here than anywhere I've lived. We're closed in but we're closed in together, and it makes me wonder if perhaps borders are necessary for community.

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