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August 17, 2006


Al Hsu

I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, and the east side of my suburb was older, pre-WWII suburbia, laid out in grid formation, while the west side was newer, post-WWII suburbia, with curved streets, cul-de-sacs and circles. I didn't realize until much later that these geographic street patterns were intentionally designed to keep cars driving slowly, so they didn't just zoom through neighborhoods. The streets that looped and curved were much safer for us kids to play around - generally we didn't have a whole lot of through traffic, and we could play Kick the Can in the middle of our cul-de-sacs without worry.

John Michlig

When you say that "streets that looped and curved were much safer for us kids to play around," are you comparing those streets to the ones with a grid configuration? If so, I would have to disagree - - unless your point is that the cul-de-sac itself had very little traffic. In that case, you were fortunate, while the folks who lived near the "feeder street" that your cul-de-sac emptied out into were not.

You may also be interested to learn that the perceived safety benefit of cul-de-sacs is an illusion. There's an interesting book excerpt in pdf form here: http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2006/jun/culdesac/book.pdf

Kick the Can - - now THAT was a game, huh? You almost HAVE to play it in a traditional neighborhood. In my hometown, we used to have epic Kick the Can games that encompassed two or three blocks.

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