The 'Little Asphalt' Solution for Better Communities

Little Asphalt minimizes pavement in cities, towns, and suburbs so that real estate can be used for higher value purposes—such as buildings and people-centered activities.

April 3, 2015, 10:00 AM PDT

By newurban

I have written about the problems of Big Asphalt. The opposite is Little Asphalt, which can be described in three ways.

1) It’s an approach that minimizes pavement in cities, towns, and suburbs so that real estate can be used for higher value purposes—such as buildings and people-centered activities. Little asphalt disperses traffic rather than concentrates it. It eases automotive traffic through expanding opportunities for walking, bicycling, transit, and other ways to get around. It reduces impervious surfaces that create stormwater runoff.

2) It’s a place dominated by the character of the surroundings and activities rather than the pavement. Little Asphalt is a magnet for people, not cars. Automobiles are usually welcome—but only at speeds that do not threaten the safety of the people or the character of the place.

3) Little Asphalt represents the interests that benefit from such places—In this case, the communities themselves, the people who live and use these communities, and the landowners who will benefit from higher values created by Little Asphalt. 

Little Asphalt recognizes that pavement itself is a big part of sprawl—not just houses spread out across the landscape, a car-oriented lifestyle, big box stores, and disinvestment in cities. Vast parts of America are over-paved in a relentless—and often futile—pursuit of frictionless driving. Highways slice through cities and downtown buildings are leveled in favor of parking lots. Most of the suburbs are not walkable because of excess paving since the middle of the 20th Century. Little Asphalt runs this process in reverse and is essential for creating more walkable, people-centered places.

Monday, March 30, 2015 in Better Cities & Towns

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