We're once again trying something new here. The plan is to post this weekly. Each week, I will be sifting through the noise out there (I already do that) to bring you the top five stories of the week related to new urbanism, complete neighborhoods and Roswell. First though, please check out my most recent article in the Roswell Current, The Elusive Neighborhood Grocery Store. In no particular order, here’s what we have this week.
Chicago wants to eliminate all pedestrian, bicycle and overall traffic crash related fatalities by 2050. I’d love to see Roswell take on a challenge like this. We should start by lowering all of our current 25 mph speed limits to 20 mph. The 20 is Plenty movement is a great one that will reduce deaths worldwide if it can take root. I also think our obsession with adding more and more traffic signs to our roads is counterintuitive. People tend to drive more recklessly when they feel they don’t need to anticipate and pay attention. Road signs and safety features have been proven in some cases to reduce driver awareness or increase complacency and in many cases have no impact on safety (they just make our city uglier).
Reading this, you can’t help but conjure up images of Atlantic Station, Lindberg Center, the proposed Avalon development in Alpharetta and Buckhead Atlanta development in Buckhead. Although, not exactly what the article is referring to, they are close enough as they are manufactured environments devised primarily for corporate profit. Atlantic Station and Lindberg Center have a distinctly plastic feel. The jury is still out on Avalon and Buckhead Atlanta. There are dozens of other spots that feel authentic such as Canton Street, Va Highlands, Inman Park, Downtown Decatur, and the old Buckhead Village... that grew up incrementally. I think incremental growth is the key. Roswell should be wary of any situation where one developer is planning on developing a huge tract of land all at once to create a place... You run the risk of that place being distinctly corporate and not distinctly Roswell. (now, all of the these corporate developments are good but they likely will never reach the greatness of an incrementally incubated environment)
This one is no secret but the article has some great data. It is applicable to Roswell primarily in the Groveway area as it is the only area in our city that has a true grid system with potential to be built out as a Mixed-Use environment (if you assume our NIMBYs will continue to block any action at the HBR/400 interchange). The study basically concludes that as net residential density increases, daily vehicle miles traveled per capita decreases. It talks about the added benefits of the grid distributing traffic more evenly than the sprawl arterial system as well as the park-once ability when visitors come to a mixed-use area. There isn’t a need to go back to the car to drive to the next parking lot over. Why? Because it’s more interesting to walk there.
I had originally thought this article in the AJC addressing recent Stadium cost overruns and overzealous revenue projections would be appropriate for the Top 5. However, I loved the idea from Curbed Atlanta that we need a soccer stadium instead of a new NFL stadium. Recruiting an MLS team to Atlanta would be big. Curbed thinks the right spot for a soccer specific stadium would be along Northside Dr by the Atlanta Water Works. However, I think our own 400/HBR intersection would be a really sweet spot. Roswell, could stake a claim to a sports franchise and it would then make even more sense for a MARTA connection in Roswell. We have a large Latino community and the northern burbs are ripe with young soccer talent that would love to attend the games. The Real Salt Lake team is located in the suburb of Sandy which is very similar to North Fulton in demographic... it’s worth a shot.
We’ve written about Christopher Lienberger here before. He basically coined the dichotomy of Walkable Urbanism vs. Drivable Suburban development. He makes the case as we have as well that walkable urbanism is spreading beyond our large city centers and actually into our smaller cities and towns. This is mainly due to a change in preference amongst our two largest generations. This is nothing new but reaffirms virtually everything that NUR is about. Roswell, needs to get in gear quickly to meet the coming storm of demand/need for walkable urbanism.