An unfortunate by product of our cul-de-sac nation is the proliferation of neighborhoods with only one entrance. The cul-de-sacs feed the collector roads and the collector roads (Norcross St) feed the arterials (Holcomb Bridge) creating the need for all cars to go to the same road to go anywhere. The problem is simple, you can't get anywhere easily and neither can anyone else. The benefit, your kids have a nice, usually safe, place to play until their pre-teen years. After that, mommy turns into soccer mom and now lives a meaningful life complete with packing the car, shuttling the kids to and from all of their daily activities and then unpacking the car. Some people like this lifestyle but I think more of them don't realize that there is an alternative.
The alternative is well connected streets in neighborhoods with a mix of uses that include parks, ball fields, schools and businesses that kids can visit. Let's not forget that they might be able to walk down a sidewalk to their friends' houses a block or two away. The map below is a good illustration of a networked (not perfectly) street grid and a dendritic street grid here in Roswell. Now, forget about the demographic for the moment and just consider life for a kid in one of the two areas that are highlighted.
Now, the three neighborhoods in the red box are completely unconnected to each other or the city park right next door. In order for the kid living in the top left of the box to get out to the adjacent lot on Norcross Street, they would have to go all the way down to Grimes Bridge, hang a left and then hang a left on Norcross Street. You may be looking at a mile walk, bike or ride to go to the lot in your back yard. Another example is the western most lot on Meadowland Dr trying to get to Waller Park. Hang a right on Grimes Bridge, then another right on Oxbo and then down to Dobbs Dr. You're looking at about two miles to get about 500 feet. Obviously, kid's aren't going to do this, they are going to climb a fence or trespass on someone's property to take the coveted shortcut.
Now, if you take a look at the streets highlighted within the green block, you can see that there is well connected network with many more options to getting in and out of the neighborhoods. As the city begins to reinvest and encourage development in these kinds of areas, you will see a very swift recovery and the residents will experience a completely different environment than those in the red box.
The point of this is that our neighborhoods should have many more entrances, exits and connections than they were built with. At this point, most of our neighborhoods are kind of stuck. There are some options for pedestrian activity as Kaid Benfield pointed out in a post back in October. Neighborhoods faced with this dilemma should strongly consider putting in paved pedestrian and bike paths to connect their cul-de-sacs and dead ends. New development should have a connectivity mandate and work to reduce congestion rather than create it. I think we are moving in the right direction here in Roswell with many of the plans that are being put in place. Only time will tell.