Though suburban cul-de-sacs have long been attractive as quiet, safe places for families, their disadvantages are becoming clear. One of the biggest problems is interference with motor- and foot-traffic flow. Research by Lawrence Frank, Bombardier Chair in Sustainable Transportation at the University of British Columbia, looks at neighborhoods in King County, Washington: Residents in areas with the most interconnected streets travel 26% fewer vehicle miles than those in areas with many cul-de-sacs. Recent studies by Frank and others show that as a neighborhood’s overall walkability increases, so does the amount of walking and biking—while, per capita, air pollution and body mass index decrease.
Last year, Eileen Norcross wrote about Virginia’s ban on future cul-de-sacs, arguing for internalizing the externalities associated with them rather than banning them outright.