Sunday, March 18, 2012

Normal:A Cartoon of Our Future?

Saga City has a cartoon showing how urban planning changed a hypothetical town, "Colvert."  The description of how Colvert changes over time sounds eerily familiar: more neighborhoods being built outward from the town on farmland, a busy street around the town attracting more businesses and traffic until they needed a highway around that area to handle the extra traffic, zoning that separated different uses which required everyone to drive places, bigger houses with more stuff and more vehicles, and even a duck persistently seeking water throughout the video (we've got lots of ducks and geese around here, flying from one pond to another). But some of the changes also sound familiar: making streets and neighborhoods more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly (helpful for a bike-riding Mayor!), filling in existing urban spaces instead of always building outward, creating more places to live near businesses, new uses for old buildings, and bringing "main street" back to life. So much of this describes Normal (well, we haven't yet made Veterans Parkway more friendly for people using any means of transportation).  I don't think we're anywhere near the utopian ending shown in the video, but it does help to see how each of the changes helps to improve the community while still allowing people to have some choice in lifestyle.

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