A Sociologist Explains Why We Shouldn't Dismiss the Cul-de-Sac

With their anti-urban inward orientation, cul-de-sacs are representative of the auto-oriented, privatized suburban development model. But one sociologist is out to demonstrate their benefits by showing how cul-de-sacs can develop social cohesion.

Books like Bowling Alone have traced the decline in community engagement in postwar America, and connected such trends to the growth of suburban lifestyles. But, as Emily Badger explains, findings published by sociologist Thomas R. Hochschild Jr. in the Journal of Urban Planning and Development may upend our ideas about how suburban environments contribute to social cohesion.  

"In sociologist's terms, Hochschild ultimately concluded that people who live in traditional bulb cul-de-sacs have the highest levels of attitudinal and behavioral cohesion (covering both how they feel about their neighbors and how much they actually interact with them)," she notes. "People who live on your average residential through-street have the lowest levels (in between the two are 'dead-end' cul-de-sacs that lack that traditional, circular social space)."

"To Hochschild's thinking, all of this means that we may want to weigh the social benefits of the cul-de-sac against the engineering critiques of how they fit into the larger street grid," adds Badger. "Or, better yet, he envisions designing cul-de-sacs that more directly connect to main, walkable routes to school or the grocery store, in an effort to address both schools of thought."

Full Story: The Case for Cul-de-Sacs

Comments

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Red necktie with map of Boston

Tie one on to celebrate your city

Choose from over 20 styles of neckties imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
$44.95
Women's t-shirt with map of Los Angeles

City T-Shirts for the ladies!

Women's Supersoft CityFabric© Fashion Fit Tees. Now available in six different cities.
$24.00