Neighborhood Signs of Life

My hometown is currently studying ‘traffic calming’ measures for one of our neighborhoods.  Recently we had a special city council/public hearing to listen to the results of the traffic study that has been underway.  During the meeting we also heard a proposal on traffic circles by a contracted civil engineering firm.

In his presentation, Permaculture City, Toby Hemenway shared a story about a neighborhood that was having problem with an intersection.  Instead of turning to outside sources for help, the neighborhood took it upon themselves to create their own solution.

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(Permaculture City presentation, Toby Hemenway)

Neighborhood Signs of Life

I am a believer that neighborhood signs of life discourage a multitude of community ills.  One of my neighbors recently shared with me that they cherish the fact, ‘the children own our streets.”  After dinner half the neighborhood is on the street walking or riding their bike.  People gardening, mowing their lawns, watering their flowers, and sitting on their porches sipping drinks…these are ALL neighborhood signs of life!

Will some paint on the road slow down speeding traffic?  Probably not, but people who have gathering spaces in their neighborhood can slow traffic by reclaiming their neighborhood and being present on their streets.  I know I drive slower when I am sharing the road.  One powerful way to reclaim a neighborhood is to increase the walkability and bikability of the streets.

Not a ‘One Solution’ Problem

The presentation by the civil engineering firm was enlightening and their recommendations must be considered.  However, there is not a technical solution that will deliver a flawless cure.  Strategies that increase neighborhood signs of life must also be considered.

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