Author Topic: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.  (Read 4035 times)

Penelope Vandergast

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Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« on: February 16, 2018, 11:03:58 AM »
My family just moved from Boston back to a midwestern college town. As we look for a house with my retired mom (we are hoping to create a MIL suite), I am increasingly frustrated by the fact that nearly all neighborhoods here are completely car-centric. No sidewalks even in many older neighborhoods, and everywhere is connected by a small number of insanely busy throughways caused by the recent big jump in population. (The town is booming.) There are buses, but most go only every hour -- or less -- and they all pretty much shut down after rush hour.

It's a good biking town, but many of the lanes are not separate from the streets, and in any case my mom is not going to be biking with bad knees and major hearing loss at age 75, nor is my 5-year-old, nor am I much anymore because of an injury. I like to WALK when I go places. WALK. My mom wants to WALK when she goes out. And there is almost nothing in our price range that exists in a walkable neighborhood. (This might be the midwest, but the place is booming and real estate has gone insane in the past few years.)

We're talking the same size house in a walkable neighborhood is $500K, and in the distant, sidewalk-free suburb 4 miles away (with no way to get there but very busy, new, 4-lane throughways packed with cars and no bike lane) is $200K. Which only makes the traffic worse since most people here cannot afford anything close to $500K.

Anything decent and affordable in walkable areas sells in a day or two. Sometimes literally within hours. So there is huge demand.

I guess I am spoiled after living in extremely walkable urban areas for the last 20 years. It just makes me grind my teeth when I see one house after another that is almost impossible to use without a freaking automobile (and how a certain contingent here freaks the F* out absurdly at any attempt to, say, build new work/shopping close to existing residential neighborhoods, or -- horrors!! -- create multifamily housing). I really wonder if I am going to just have to give in and accept that either I spend all my money on housing or else spend part of almost every.single.day in a car. ARGH!!!!!

Penelope Vandergast

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2018, 11:05:52 AM »
My new favorite website: https://www.strongtowns.org/

dougules

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2018, 11:13:26 AM »
Yes Yes Yes.  The South is even worse about this.  Fortunately we're in a neighborhood from the 50s/60s that isn't made to be walkable at all but does work to some extent for walking. 


Jon Bon

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2018, 12:18:43 PM »
I agree, its a huge PITA.

The options are usually live in the burbs and deal with driving on 100% of trips, or buy a house in a neighborhood that was built 1900- 1940. The older homes are always very close in which is nice for commutes and getting around, they are also often very beautiful and classic construction. The problem here is that they cost a small fortune!

I also notice the "Front Porch versus Back Porch" Problem. I have lived in houses with both designs. Do you care to guess in which neighborhood I actually knew who my neighbors were? This is mainly because you drive your car right into your house, and close the door behind you. Lucky for you, you NEVER have to actually speak to any of those forks that live around you!


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dandarc

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2018, 12:29:29 PM »
Yes Yes Yes.  The South is even worse about this.  Fortunately we're in a neighborhood from the 50s/60s that isn't made to be walkable at all but does work to some extent for walking.
I'm in a similar neighborhood, but at least this particular southern neighborhood isn't all that expensive.  Neighborhood is good for walking because they did one thing right - you can't drive through and get anywhere useful, so traffic within the hood is light enough that the mostly absent sidewalks aren't necessary.  Actually, for the most part, it is the most expensive areas that "require" a car here.  At least if we're limiting to the same county - very inexpensive if you go far enough away.

Mr. Boh

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2018, 03:01:48 PM »
One thing that I've noticed about car-centered neighborhoods is the huge people. I'm not sure if it is the cause or the effect.

Abe

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2018, 09:08:07 PM »
I haven't lived in a car-centered neighborhood since high school, and when I do visit someone in a suburb it seems equally glorious and super annoying. Glorious in that there is so much open green space, but annoying because trying to commute by bike seems incredibly hazardous. The distances are too far to walk anywhere in a practical amount of time. Now we live in a city that is old enough to be fairly dense and walkable with more modern houses, but there don't seem to be a lot of those outside of the north east.

accolay

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2018, 11:26:06 AM »
I grew up in the midwest. Since I was a kid I thought building neighborhoods without sidewalks was pretty stupid.

former player

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2018, 11:58:00 AM »
If the town is booming then it has money.  If it has money, it can, with a little political encouragement, spend it on cycle tracks and footpaths.  The trick will be to identify the places these can go where they will be away from the four lane highways.

Are there any cycling advocacy groups in this town?  Yes, I know cycling isn't going to be your thing (although an electric bike or electric trike might be worth looking at).  But new cycling paths can also be new walking paths.  Break out the maps, and see whether there are any natural features, such as waterways or hillsides, alongside which a new cycle/walk path could be put, or any old transport routes (older roads, redundant railways or tramways) which could be repurposed.  Buy in a suburb that could be linked to the walkable centre in this way and start lobbying.

If that's not practicable, I'd be looking at commercial properties in the walkable neighbourhoods to see if any of them could be converted, or partly converted, to residential.

If this isn't feasible, I'd choose to spend the money on a smaller house or apartment in the walkable location.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2018, 02:31:14 PM »
One of my friends ran for city council with a platform of improving sidewalks. Now's she's making it happen. But here it seems to be the older neighborhoods without them. Mine had sidewalks before it had houses.

Gronnie

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2018, 03:30:17 PM »
Our town spent a ton of money putting in cycling lanes (making less car lanes in the process), and hardly anyone uses them.

Penelope Vandergast

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2018, 09:51:01 AM »
This is a very bike-friendly, progressive town and there are already a couple of bike lanes close by. And it is possible that some of these areas could be open to having sidewalks, which in many ways I think would be used more than the bike lanes. So who knows. Maybe I'll become the town sidewalk advocate, making a pain in the neck out of myself at every town hall meeting : ).

Tris Prior

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2018, 03:45:33 PM »
I totally agree. When I was around 14, my family moved from the city (walkable, sidewalks, good public transit even though we were pretty close to the edge of the city limits) to the suburbs which had NONE of the above. I could not wrap my head around the fact that our new neighborhood did not have any sidewalks, as I'd never seen that before. How can you not have SIDEWALKS?

Since then I've learned that this is not terribly unusual - and is why I'll never live in the suburbs again even if it means being a lifelong renter.

RFAAOATB

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2018, 04:26:58 PM »
My family just moved from Boston back to a midwestern college town. As we look for a house with my retired mom (we are hoping to create a MIL suite), I am increasingly frustrated by the fact that nearly all neighborhoods here are completely car-centric. No sidewalks even in many older neighborhoods, and everywhere is connected by a small number of insanely busy throughways caused by the recent big jump in population. (The town is booming.) There are buses, but most go only every hour -- or less -- and they all pretty much shut down after rush hour.

It's a good biking town, but many of the lanes are not separate from the streets, and in any case my mom is not going to be biking with bad knees and major hearing loss at age 75, nor is my 5-year-old, nor am I much anymore because of an injury. I like to WALK when I go places. WALK. My mom wants to WALK when she goes out. And there is almost nothing in our price range that exists in a walkable neighborhood. (This might be the midwest, but the place is booming and real estate has gone insane in the past few years.)

We're talking the same size house in a walkable neighborhood is $500K, and in the distant, sidewalk-free suburb 4 miles away (with no way to get there but very busy, new, 4-lane throughways packed with cars and no bike lane) is $200K. Which only makes the traffic worse since most people here cannot afford anything close to $500K.

Anything decent and affordable in walkable areas sells in a day or two. Sometimes literally within hours. So there is huge demand.

I guess I am spoiled after living in extremely walkable urban areas for the last 20 years. It just makes me grind my teeth when I see one house after another that is almost impossible to use without a freaking automobile (and how a certain contingent here freaks the F* out absurdly at any attempt to, say, build new work/shopping close to existing residential neighborhoods, or -- horrors!! -- create multifamily housing). I really wonder if I am going to just have to give in and accept that either I spend all my money on housing or else spend part of almost every.single.day in a car. ARGH!!!!!

So if you want a walkable neighborhood, you have to make it expensive enough to keep the poors out, and if you have more affordable real estate, you have to make it unattractive to walkers otherwise the poors will be visible outside your house.  As for multifamily...  do you want to be neighbors with someone who can't afford a whole house?

Could you Uber from the inexpensive house to the walkable neighborhood?  And then Uber back to your house when you're done walking?

Conversely, could you make more money so you can afford a good neighborhood? 

I'm only half serious with these comments, although I am interested in the intended and unintended side effects of economic segregation.

Jon Bon

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2018, 07:05:54 PM »
My family just moved from Boston back to a midwestern college town. As we look for a house with my retired mom (we are hoping to create a MIL suite), I am increasingly frustrated by the fact that nearly all neighborhoods here are completely car-centric. No sidewalks even in many older neighborhoods, and everywhere is connected by a small number of insanely busy throughways caused by the recent big jump in population. (The town is booming.) There are buses, but most go only every hour -- or less -- and they all pretty much shut down after rush hour.

It's a good biking town, but many of the lanes are not separate from the streets, and in any case my mom is not going to be biking with bad knees and major hearing loss at age 75, nor is my 5-year-old, nor am I much anymore because of an injury. I like to WALK when I go places. WALK. My mom wants to WALK when she goes out. And there is almost nothing in our price range that exists in a walkable neighborhood. (This might be the midwest, but the place is booming and real estate has gone insane in the past few years.)

We're talking the same size house in a walkable neighborhood is $500K, and in the distant, sidewalk-free suburb 4 miles away (with no way to get there but very busy, new, 4-lane throughways packed with cars and no bike lane) is $200K. Which only makes the traffic worse since most people here cannot afford anything close to $500K.

Anything decent and affordable in walkable areas sells in a day or two. Sometimes literally within hours. So there is huge demand.

I guess I am spoiled after living in extremely walkable urban areas for the last 20 years. It just makes me grind my teeth when I see one house after another that is almost impossible to use without a freaking automobile (and how a certain contingent here freaks the F* out absurdly at any attempt to, say, build new work/shopping close to existing residential neighborhoods, or -- horrors!! -- create multifamily housing). I really wonder if I am going to just have to give in and accept that either I spend all my money on housing or else spend part of almost every.single.day in a car. ARGH!!!!!

So if you want a walkable neighborhood, you have to make it expensive enough to keep the poors out, and if you have more affordable real estate, you have to make it unattractive to walkers otherwise the poors will be visible outside your house.  As for multifamily...  do you want to be neighbors with someone who can't afford a whole house?

Could you Uber from the inexpensive house to the walkable neighborhood?  And then Uber back to your house when you're done walking?

Conversely, could you make more money so you can afford a good neighborhood? 

I'm only half serious with these comments, although I am interested in the intended and unintended side effects of economic segregation.

Unfortunately I think you are pretty spot on.

My (expensive) walk-able neighborhood has very tough provisions about adding accessory dwelling units, precisely to keep the poors out. Pretty much every house has a detached garage that could easily be converted to living space. This is forbidden under their official excuse, which was they did not have enough numbers for the new addresses, my jaw hit the floor on that one. Reminds me I should call city hall and ask about this.

That being said there are LOTS of ok-ish neighborhoods that are walk-able, the trend has been towards gentrification during this run of economic expansion.

Something I think that is being left out and is actually quite simple is that side walks cost money and space.

a four foot side walks plus two feet of tree lawn, that's 6 feet, or twelve feed on each side. if you get ride of that on five streets you can probably squeeze in an extra row of lots and houses. That allows the developer to cram more units into the same parcel of land.  Until people demand sidewalks in the burbs nothing will change. All too often the biggest house at the smallest price is the only driver.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2018, 06:25:22 AM »
I don't know I buy the "expensive" theory 100%.
My parents live in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. Every home in there is a million dollars or more, some easily double that- in Texas (where real estate is typically cheaper than other parts of the country).

Sidewalks were left out to discourage families. It isn't a retirement community, but it used to just be rich old people who went everywhere on golf carts.

Now families are moving in, so when you drive there are often people strolling down the middle of the road with small children.

Penelope Vandergast

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2018, 04:23:22 PM »
Here there are several "nice," well-located neighborhoods with no sidewalks, where people bought in the 1970s and 1980s and never left. Now they are old, and so you occasionally see people with canes and walkers in the middle of the street. I just can't see that ending well.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2018, 09:59:18 PM »
I wonder what today's children will look for in a home.

The "Greatest Generation" and Baby Boomers built / bought the suburbs and they were obsessed with 2 things: cars and race. It makes sense how suburbs were built to be car-centric and to use distance as an intentional tool to keep away pedestrians who could not afford cars. The consequence was a society where the old city was for "the poors" or "the blacks" and the suburbs were for the successful class who could make payments. There was also a bit of frontier nostalgia going on in the age of Western movies at drive-in theaters. The pioneers of the 19th century escaped the overcrowded slums of early American cities for hopefully more prosperous lives "out West", and 20th century suburbanites imagined they were making their own pilgrimage. They were escaping desegregation and relatively small inner city homes which were built in the era before mass production of consumer crap. The sprawling "ranch" style house was developed to engage this fantasy, and came complete with a decorative yard meant to evoke farmland (even requiring physical labor to maintain!). People raised dogs instead of cows, and mowed grass instead of plowing fields.

If you were born after about 1995, this probably sounds like an alien culture. This mindset was specific to a certain generation, a certain time, and a certain place. It will be gone someday. When the Boomers are gone, their architecture will still be with us, but will their mentality?

So far, millennials and generation Z are showing relatively less interest in cars, lawn care, or self-segregation. They've piled into cities, making what used to be known as slums into HCOL neighborhoods (e.g. Compton, Harlem, The French Quarter, Deep Ellum). They are renters instead of buyers, prioritizing geographic flexibility over the pride of owning a fake farm in the suburbs. They grew up in subdivisions where each house was isolated from its neighbors, and now they are obsessed with staying connected via social media. One gets the sense that if they were to build a city, today's 20-somethings would create something similar to the old cities of Europe or old neighborhoods in Chicago or Philadelphia.

What will happen?

1) Prosperous millennials and generation Z couples pay off their student loans in their 40s, and then purchase existing suburban homes. They get over the urban phase of their lives and settle down, adopting their parents' lifestyle. Inner city communities react to the reign of Trump the same way they reacted to the reign of Johnson, Nixon, and Ford - by reverting back to being impoverished ethnic enclaves people dream of escaping. American patters of economic segregation maintain a 100 year streak, as enduring infrastructure decisions, interests, and perceptions keep things that way. Meanwhile, a steady stream of new addictive drugs make pedestrians seem more suspicious than ever.

2) New inner-city developments pop up to address younger generations' need for social connection, walkable experiences, and geographic/financial flexibility. These places, with their vitality and hustle, seem like paradise to a generation which has come to associate the suburbs with the dissatisfying experience of living with their parents. Meanwhile, the suburbs rot as elderly Baby Boomers fail to maintain their detached homes. Suburban prices plummet as their expensive connecting infrastructure (roads, utilities) decay. An equilibrium is reached in which some suburbs become rental slums, some become ethnic enclaves, and others are inhabited by people nostalgic for a 20th century they never lived in.

3) In a transformative eight-year span, the rise of full-suite augmented reality work-from-home software makes it possible for 35% of workers to stop commuting. Traffic starts to resemble weekends, even during rush hour. Freed from the constraints of commutting, some people buy home/offices even further out in the country. Others locate themselves near shopping and cultural attractions. In the middle are the suburbs, which lack both the fun of the urban setting and the peacefulness of the rural/small town settings. They are also physically decaying by this point. As the political equilibrium shifts, car-centric infrastructure is defunded and the suburbs become a place of potholes, sewage floods, and blackouts. Nonetheless, suburban infrastructure limps along for the remainder of our lives, as driverless vans shuttle the poor back and forth between suburban rent-houses and areas of physical economic activity.

hubstash

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2018, 06:22:35 AM »
Thanks for posting this.

I currently live in Boston and grew up in a completely car-centric Midwestern city. A lot of my friends and family are perplexed by the traffic here, and ask how/why I deal with it. My answer is always "I don't." I rarely even consider the traffic, unless I haven't planned enough in advance to take the T to the airport. Then I feel bad for people who have to rely on cars, and perplexed by those that choose to. And not just in places like Boston.

Posts like this make me realize I can sometimes take the walkability for granted. It's not until I hear other people talk about car centric cities, or when I go home, that I remember walkable cities aren't the norm. Here in Boston it's not just one trendy neighborhood, it's the whole city. The benefit/consequence of an entirely different type of city planning and growth.

Eventually I want to move to a smaller city with more mild winters. When I first got into FIRE I had this idea that I would be able to find something more affordable by moving. But I understand now that in order to realistically do that, you are going to have to compromise big in some other area. I don't consider walkability to be an "exaggerated tiny detail." So I'll build this in to my FIRE plan.

I should clarify that our housing costs in Boston aren't completely outrageous - just high :). We've been vigilant about keeping cost down and avoiding lifestyle inflation. Realistically I don't think we can count on moving somewhere and paying less. More likely it will be paying the same amount for more SQ footage. Kind of a bummer, but that thought does help me appreciate what I have right now.

Tris Prior

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2018, 08:43:24 AM »

Posts like this make me realize I can sometimes take the walkability for granted. It's not until I hear other people talk about car centric cities, or when I go home, that I remember walkable cities aren't the norm.

For sure! Boyfriend is from the St. Louis area and every time we go back there to visit friends and family, within a day we are complaining about "I can't believe how you have to DRIVE everywhere here! How do people do this every day?" I am spoiled in Chicago for sure.

Eventually I want to move to a smaller city with more mild winters. When I first got into FIRE I had this idea that I would be able to find something more affordable by moving. But I understand now that in order to realistically do that, you are going to have to compromise big in some other area. I don't consider walkability to be an "exaggerated tiny detail." So I'll build this in to my FIRE plan.

Me too, but I have no idea where that would be (especially considering that I'd want a LCOL walkable city in a blue state. Does that even exist?)

KCM5

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2018, 08:59:08 AM »
Thereís a town near me that has been putting in sidewalks and the residents are UP IN ARMS about it. Hereís an amusing satirical look at the issue: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/columnists/daniel-finney/2016/09/28/finney-tyranny-sidewalks-windsor-heights/91153676/

Donít be surprised if your sidewalk crusade meets resistance from the grouchy established contingent of the population. The 5 year old can just walk in the street! I did and survived.

Iím with you on the car-centrism. Might need to find a lower rent neighborhood to afford the house.

dandarc

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2018, 09:08:20 AM »
Thereís a town near me that has been putting in sidewalks and the residents are UP IN ARMS about it. Hereís an amusing satirical look at the issue: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/columnists/daniel-finney/2016/09/28/finney-tyranny-sidewalks-windsor-heights/91153676/

Donít be surprised if your sidewalk crusade meets resistance from the grouchy established contingent of the population. The 5 year old can just walk in the street! I did and survived.

Iím with you on the car-centrism. Might need to find a lower rent neighborhood to afford the house.
Thanks for reminding me.  They are supposed to be putting in a multi-use trail that will be great for us.  Phase 1 completed over a year ago, but phases 2+ seem to have stalled.  C'mon phase 2B (not to be confused with phases 2A1 and 2A2)!

dougules

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2018, 11:19:10 AM »
Our town spent a ton of money putting in cycling lanes (making less car lanes in the process), and hardly anyone uses them.

Are they actually practical, though? They put in some bike lanes here, but they basically just checked the box.  They don't really connect to each other, and they don't go where people need to go.  They don't give you much separation from traffic that is probably actually moving at 50mph, and they also put you where you're riding on the seam between the concrete of the curb and the asphalt. 

If car lanes were that half-assed people would be up in arms. 


I don't know I buy the "expensive" theory 100%.
My parents live in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. Every home in there is a million dollars or more, some easily double that- in Texas (where real estate is typically cheaper than other parts of the country).

Sidewalks were left out to discourage families. It isn't a retirement community, but it used to just be rich old people who went everywhere on golf carts.

Now families are moving in, so when you drive there are often people strolling down the middle of the road with small children.

The "expensive" argument is just an excuse.  They recently passed an additional 1% sales tax to fund adding lanes to major highways around here.  The money somehow appears when it's for car traffic.

hubstash

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2018, 04:26:07 PM »

Eventually I want to move to a smaller city with more mild winters. When I first got into FIRE I had this idea that I would be able to find something more affordable by moving. But I understand now that in order to realistically do that, you are going to have to compromise big in some other area. I don't consider walkability to be an "exaggerated tiny detail." So I'll build this in to my FIRE plan.

Me too, but I have no idea where that would be (especially considering that I'd want a LCOL walkable city in a blue state. Does that even exist?)

Yeah, same here. I grew up in a red state so this is a pretty important one for me. This type of town is sort of a unicorn, I think. More likely is "MCOL."

Mr. Boh

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2018, 04:37:07 PM »
Thereís a town near me that has been putting in sidewalks and the residents are UP IN ARMS about it. Hereís an amusing satirical look at the issue: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/columnists/daniel-finney/2016/09/28/finney-tyranny-sidewalks-windsor-heights/91153676/

Donít be surprised if your sidewalk crusade meets resistance from the grouchy established contingent of the population. The 5 year old can just walk in the street! I did and survived.

Iím with you on the car-centrism. Might need to find a lower rent neighborhood to afford the house.

This is too funny. People will complain about anything.

bacchi

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2018, 07:56:21 PM »
I wonder what today's children will look for in a home.

The "Greatest Generation" and Baby Boomers built / bought the suburbs and they were obsessed with 2 things: cars and race. It makes sense how suburbs were built to be car-centric and to use distance as an intentional tool to keep away pedestrians who could not afford cars.

Was that original? It's insightful and well written.

Even today, the 'burbs act like a magnet for a lot of people about to have children. It'll take a long time before society turns its back on them but it will happen.

Apple_Tango

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2018, 08:20:39 PM »
Mostly posting to follow. But I have to say after moving back in with my parents recently in the DC suburban sprawl, I have to say that it is so weird. There are metro stops everywhere, and a fair amount shopping areas and restaurants within 3 miles of the house. But. No. Sidewalks. The highways separate everything, so what should be walkable and bikeable is anything but.

I had to drive 5 miles to work today- it took me 45 min to get home via car. I would rather have walked, especially on this beautiful day!...except I am afraid I would get run over. So even living in one of the more metropolitan areas of the country, I still feel trapped and stuck.

In conclusion, the suburbs suck.

dougules

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2018, 10:31:34 AM »

Posts like this make me realize I can sometimes take the walkability for granted. It's not until I hear other people talk about car centric cities, or when I go home, that I remember walkable cities aren't the norm.

For sure! Boyfriend is from the St. Louis area and every time we go back there to visit friends and family, within a day we are complaining about "I can't believe how you have to DRIVE everywhere here! How do people do this every day?" I am spoiled in Chicago for sure.

Eventually I want to move to a smaller city with more mild winters. When I first got into FIRE I had this idea that I would be able to find something more affordable by moving. But I understand now that in order to realistically do that, you are going to have to compromise big in some other area. I don't consider walkability to be an "exaggerated tiny detail." So I'll build this in to my FIRE plan.

Me too, but I have no idea where that would be (especially considering that I'd want a LCOL walkable city in a blue state. Does that even exist?)

The problem with walkable LCOL is that there is a lot of demand and very little building going on.  NIMBYs in low density areas are preventing projects that increase density or hinder drivers in any way.  People in blue states say they want to help low income people and the environment.  Ironically, though, when it comes to building  dense walkable development on the same scale as construction on the suburban fringe, they fight it tooth and nail.  People have a tough time comprehending that Manhattan is much much more environmentally friendly per person than all the grass and trees in New Jersey. 

Penelope Vandergast

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2018, 10:37:19 AM »
Great sidewalks article. I remember when I first read that people LIKE no-sidewalk neighborhoods because it's upscale or something, and I was like, Wha?? The dumbest thing I have ever heard.

Very interesting post ChpBstrd. For sure plenty of racism involved in creating these neighborhoods. And we can now see how literally structural racism is -- it's actually built into the physical environment. That's also behind a lot of opposition to multi-family housing. People of a certain age especially have this visceral hatred of apartment buildings and anything above 2 stories, which just completely baffles me, except for that I know it has a whole lot to do with race and their totally ignorant idea that only poor, dirty people live in apartments. I mean I lived in NYC and Boston for 20 years. I don't even know where to begin with people who think a new walkable multifamily development should be opposed a all costs, while they are fine with more and more sprawl.

In Boston, which is still very car-dependent in many ways (I knew of people who refused to take public transit on principle -- it was the same in NYC) it was always hilarious every time they tried to put up new apt buildings in my old booming neighborhood -- all of these old-timers would crawl out of the woodwork and start screaming about NOT ENOUGH PARKING (the city mandate was 2 spots per unit, which is ludicrous, yet every time they tried to reduce it people would scream about residents now parking on the street -- which apparently is also a mark of being poor, dirty, etc.) and TOO TALL and etc etc -- some of it just blatantly racist.

Of course, the fact that almost every new building had a huge bike rack and like 5 Zipcars in the building's lot and were often built right on bus and train stops, and that most people moving in were in their 20s and 30s and were happy to live without daily automobile use, was something those folks literally couldn't imagine.

dougules

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2018, 10:57:40 AM »

accolay

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2018, 02:13:29 PM »
I just found an interesting concept.  YIMBYs

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/07/yimby-groups-pro-development/532437/

I like that idea that we work with developers to get what we want out of our cities. I don't like funding the suburban sprawl, accompanying roads and extra pollution created.

But do they have to make all these new apartments so damn ugly and cheap looking?

Penelope Vandergast

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2018, 02:18:50 PM »
Totally. "Oh boy, another beige box."

ChpBstrd

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2018, 05:05:58 PM »
Eventually I want to move to a smaller city with more mild winters. When I first got into FIRE I had this idea that I would be able to find something more affordable by moving. But I understand now that in order to realistically do that, you are going to have to compromise big in some other area. I don't consider walkability to be an "exaggerated tiny detail." So I'll build this in to my FIRE plan.

The good/bad news is, winters are getting steadily milder.

In terms of affordable walkability, you would probably need to place a bet on the resurgence of a neighborhood in a post-industrial Midwestern city. Most such cities have a neighborhood where likeminded people are moving in and getting involved with their environments. Unfortunately, places like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago, etc. are currently constrained from solving their own problems by state and federal politics.

dougules

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2018, 10:10:47 AM »
I just found an interesting concept.  YIMBYs

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/07/yimby-groups-pro-development/532437/

I like that idea that we work with developers to get what we want out of our cities. I don't like funding the suburban sprawl, accompanying roads and extra pollution created.

But do they have to make all these new apartments so damn ugly and cheap looking?

As if McMansions on the suburban fringe look any better.  Architectural style is a totally independent problem from location, form, and function. 

I completely agree, though, that the majority of new condo buildings look pretty ugly. 
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 10:13:55 AM by dougules »

ChpBstrd

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2018, 10:44:35 AM »
I just found an interesting concept.  YIMBYs

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/07/yimby-groups-pro-development/532437/

I like that idea that we work with developers to get what we want out of our cities. I don't like funding the suburban sprawl, accompanying roads and extra pollution created.

But do they have to make all these new apartments so damn ugly and cheap looking?

Zoning laws and established interests restrict the kinds of growth you describe. You can work to change them by organizing with like-minded neighbors. Online platforms make this easier than ever.

Beige boxes made from prefabricated segments with minimal workmanship are currently the higher-ROI option for developers, because people are willing to buy/rent them and are not willing to pay extra for good looks. I expect the arrival of 3D building printing will change this in the future, as machine labor lowers the cost of texture, relief, sculpture, and classic proportions. Architectural detail will make a cyclical comeback and modernism, like all movements, will cede to a new form. I can't wait.

accolay

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2018, 05:04:59 PM »
Architectural detail will make a cyclical comeback and modernism, like all movements, will cede to a new form. I can't wait.

Christ, I hope so. There's nothing like a McMansion with the foremost architectural feature being the large front facing 3-stall garage. Then choose the details you like from three or four different styles and mash them all together. yuck.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #36 on: February 23, 2018, 07:49:07 AM »
Architectural detail will make a cyclical comeback and modernism, like all movements, will cede to a new form. I can't wait.

Christ, I hope so. There's nothing like a McMansion with the foremost architectural feature being the large front facing 3-stall garage. Then choose the details you like from three or four different styles and mash them all together. yuck.

I tend to agree with the author of the second-best blog on the internet, mcmansionhell.com , that the mcmansion is a style of its own, derived from postmodernism and incoherently mashing together "stick on" themes from earlier styles. If you somehow haven't visited mcmansionhell.com yet, block a weekend when you don't have much else going on and get started early Saturday morning.

Penelope Vandergast

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #37 on: February 23, 2018, 10:01:01 AM »
Seconding the brilliance of McMansionhell.

arach

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2018, 06:53:06 PM »
I had to chuckle, because I'm the exact opposite.

Walkable neighborhoods are awful! I avoid them at all costs.

Give me 4+ car garages and car-centric communities all day. My neighborhood doesn't even have sidewalks.

But I guess we are all different ;)

former player

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2018, 01:16:20 AM »
I had to chuckle, because I'm the exact opposite.

Walkable neighborhoods are awful! I avoid them at all costs.

Give me 4+ car garages and car-centric communities all day. My neighborhood doesn't even have sidewalks.

But I guess we are all different ;)
You seem to have mislaid the part of the internet you should be on,

arach

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #40 on: March 02, 2018, 05:50:34 AM »
You seem to have mislaid the part of the internet you should be on,
[/quote]

I don't learn from being around people just like me. I learn from being around diverse thoughts and ideas. I like that I don't agree from the OP, because it means I can learn from them.

We all have our interests, and if cars are my interest, that doesn't mean I don't align on 95% of other line items. (I race cars, my career is in cars, and every waking moment is about cars for me- its my passion.)

My passion used to be rock climbing and hiking, until an accident where I severely and permanently injured myself. I won't call myself disabled because I don't like to use that term, but with the backwoods camping out, I found some real freedom and enjoyment from cars.

But this isn't about me, its about the OP... I just literally chuckled and thought I'd share. We're all different, some of us more than others on certain topics, and I just thought it was worth the share.

To me, car-centric neighborhoods mean 2 things: 1 cars, 2 clean air and green grass. I love nature, so I love car-based neighborhoods. at least in the mid-west that often means multi-acre lots and few houses. More woods and greenspaces is appealing to me. I don't want to be piled with a bunch of people, I like nature.


dougules

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #41 on: March 02, 2018, 12:28:34 PM »
You seem to have mislaid the part of the internet you should be on,

I don't learn from being around people just like me. I learn from being around diverse thoughts and ideas. I like that I don't agree from the OP, because it means I can learn from them.

We all have our interests, and if cars are my interest, that doesn't mean I don't align on 95% of other line items. (I race cars, my career is in cars, and every waking moment is about cars for me- its my passion.)

My passion used to be rock climbing and hiking, until an accident where I severely and permanently injured myself. I won't call myself disabled because I don't like to use that term, but with the backwoods camping out, I found some real freedom and enjoyment from cars.

But this isn't about me, its about the OP... I just literally chuckled and thought I'd share. We're all different, some of us more than others on certain topics, and I just thought it was worth the share.

To me, car-centric neighborhoods mean 2 things: 1 cars, 2 clean air and green grass. I love nature, so I love car-based neighborhoods. at least in the mid-west that often means multi-acre lots and few houses. More woods and greenspaces is appealing to me. I don't want to be piled with a bunch of people, I like nature.

It's not a binary.  We should have facilities for bikes and pedestrians everywhere the same as we do for cars. 
« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 12:31:00 PM by dougules »

Mr. Boh

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #42 on: March 02, 2018, 06:49:50 PM »
This thread has taken a surreal turn.

Penelope Vandergast

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #43 on: March 03, 2018, 09:15:26 PM »
You can say that again...

I grew up in the country in an area where the first sidewalk was 8 miles away. I love green spaces and nature. And if you could live there and not have to rely 100% on your car for every single bleeping thing, I would seriously consider living there again. In the U.S., though, this is not an option unless you happen to live next to some remote Amtrak station. (and then it probably comes and goes at 3 o'clock in the morning). I mean zillions of small towns don't even have a Greyhound stop.

In many parts of the UK/Europe you can take a train out of town way out into the middle of nowhere, sometimes then with bus connections taking you even farther into the middle of nowhere, several times a day. Rural life in the U.S. would be transformed if we had this here. (I would not be surprised if people's car payments, gas, and maintenance were comparable to -- or higher than! -- their monthly housing costs. I knew many people who commuted 40-60 miles each way, 5 days a week, to their jobs in the city. I mean, if we put even half of what we individually spend on cars into public transport we could have the most incredible system in the world.)

There are 6 million people in my midwestern state. About 75% of those are adults. 4.5 million people spending AAA's average of about $7000/year on their cars is $31.5 billion. About half of that is $16 billion. I think you could get a decent start on a statewide rail system with that. And that's only ONE year's worth of spending.

(Of course the same people who spend $7000 a year on their cars without batting an eye will scream and throw fits if they're asked to spend $2000/year on train passes, even if it reduces their car costs by 90% and they can sleep, play video games, or hang out with people while they commute instead of drive for an hour alone.)
 
That's going to be one of the biggest American infrastructure problems to solve: how to give rural areas freedom from car-dependence. (That has to be public transport because nobody is going to be biking 40 miles to work every day.) Or to get people to even imagine a world in which this could be a desirable option.

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #44 on: March 04, 2018, 06:49:16 AM »
We're still working on giving citizens of most metro areas freedom from car dependence, rural is a long long ways off.

former player

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #45 on: March 04, 2018, 07:05:12 AM »
I remember a time when the internet was going to be the solution.  Instead it's become the problem, with constant small deliveries over long distances.

Le Poisson

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #46 on: March 04, 2018, 07:19:23 AM »
Interesting thread. Interesting ideas.


ChpBstrd

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #47 on: March 05, 2018, 09:12:18 AM »
One big reason people in the US don't want to live in more dense areas or ride public transportation is our untreated addiction epidemic. In my town, thousands of people are investing their money and energy into refurbishing the old walkable neighborhoods near downtown. This appeals to me until I'm walking around those areas and there's a panhandler on every other corner, aggressively begging and pleading for "gas money" which we all know means a half pint or an opiate pill or some smack. I understand this happens on the busses too. Car break-ins occur nightly - for the coins people tend to keep in their cars. They're so deserate they're risking jail for COINS.

The people fixing up walkable neighborhoods seem to be doing so amid a drug-zombie apocalypse. It's hard for families or women to feel safe with such activities going on, so it's fair to wonder whether the fixer-uppers will sell and whether the rebuilding can continue. I've heard lots of people say the walkable neighborhoods are too sketchy, so they'll continue commuting from the suburbs/exurbs which were build to be hard for addicts to roam around.

The thing is, addiction is treatable. Yes, it costs money, but so does every nice thing. So why not fund treatment centers for all the people whose lives have been wrecked by drugs and alcohol. Turn them back into taxpayers and it'll pay for itself. Treatment is cheaper, more humane, and more appropriate for a "free country" than prison. Funding multi-billion dollar treatment initiatives would be far cheaper than incentivizing millions of people to drive very long distances from isolated tract neighborhoods without sidewalks and with streets laid out like a mess of spaghetti.

Unfortunately, we in the US tend to consider addiction to be a moral failing instead of a health, economic, and quality of life issue. We'll pay the six-figure cost of commuting before we'll ever help a fellow citizen of our republic regain dignity and control of their lives. We non-addicts are the ones who can't seem to think logically about how we could all live in more prosperous communities.

dougules

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #48 on: March 05, 2018, 10:36:26 AM »
One big reason people in the US don't want to live in more dense areas or ride public transportation is our untreated addiction epidemic. In my town, thousands of people are investing their money and energy into refurbishing the old walkable neighborhoods near downtown. This appeals to me until I'm walking around those areas and there's a panhandler on every other corner, aggressively begging and pleading for "gas money" which we all know means a half pint or an opiate pill or some smack. I understand this happens on the busses too. Car break-ins occur nightly - for the coins people tend to keep in their cars. They're so deserate they're risking jail for COINS.

The people fixing up walkable neighborhoods seem to be doing so amid a drug-zombie apocalypse. It's hard for families or women to feel safe with such activities going on, so it's fair to wonder whether the fixer-uppers will sell and whether the rebuilding can continue. I've heard lots of people say the walkable neighborhoods are too sketchy, so they'll continue commuting from the suburbs/exurbs which were build to be hard for addicts to roam around.

The thing is, addiction is treatable. Yes, it costs money, but so does every nice thing. So why not fund treatment centers for all the people whose lives have been wrecked by drugs and alcohol. Turn them back into taxpayers and it'll pay for itself. Treatment is cheaper, more humane, and more appropriate for a "free country" than prison. Funding multi-billion dollar treatment initiatives would be far cheaper than incentivizing millions of people to drive very long distances from isolated tract neighborhoods without sidewalks and with streets laid out like a mess of spaghetti.

Unfortunately, we in the US tend to consider addiction to be a moral failing instead of a health, economic, and quality of life issue. We'll pay the six-figure cost of commuting before we'll ever help a fellow citizen of our republic regain dignity and control of their lives. We non-addicts are the ones who can't seem to think logically about how we could all live in more prosperous communities.

Yeah, for some people driving an armored box to a house in a remote area is a way to ignore social problems we have instead of acknowledging them and trying to implement a solution.   That was actually a major factor in how we got where we are today. 

Penelope Vandergast

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Re: Just venting. I HATE car-centered neighborhoods.
« Reply #49 on: March 05, 2018, 09:11:40 PM »
something from The Nation: https://www.thenation.com/article/the-left-needs-to-care-about-the-opioid-crisis/

The thing about driving all the time though in rural areas -- you kill just as many people with cars as opiates. (OK, I think opiate deaths are now higher than car crash deaths, but).

Half the people in rural areas have been traumatized by either knowing someone who died in a crash or who were in one themselves. I can think of 10 people dead in crashes from my hometown of about 2000 people back in the 1980s without even trying (four or five of them teenagers when I was in high school, and another one from my class a couple of years after graduation -- when your high school has only 300 people in it that's a very high death rate -- can you imagine the indignant posturing on Fox News if 2% of say Chicago "inner city" kids were dead by 25 due to violence? And car accidents ARE violence. But no one says a word when it's rural white kids, and the deaths are caused by cars). Know one more who was paralyzed. The parents of two friends were killed in car accidents too. Most alcohol-related but not all.

Why people are not up in arms about how many people this "safe" mode of transport maims and kills every year is beyond me. If terrorists killed 40,000 people a year in the US and permanently maimed 200,000+ more it would be a constant national emergency. Instead we just shrug and build more roads.