This month, everybody talks about suburbs (and about the prominent feature of suburbs, cars): some posts on RSR website (here, here and here), the last edition of the forum Ecoparc: So, it’s the right moment to talk about this subject, and to propose a strategy to align autorities and developers’ interests.
1 – Complete the streets
First step, completely in the hands of public powers, is completing the streets. In many cases, people drive instead of walking because roads are designed for cars rather than for people. Let’s see some examples:
Aigle. Sidewalks are too small. Pedestrians are not protected from traffic
Aigle. Car-only road
Aigle. Crossing forbidden (but people cross here anyway)
Aigle. Pedestrian underpass, not very appealing.
And here, some good examples:
Aigle. Trees, sidewalks and outdoor cafés.
Aigle. side street.
Aigle. Landscaped entrance to the shopping center (with bus shelter included)
2 – Allow and promote mixed-use developments
In this case too, public powers have the choice. A good zoning code should allow suburbs to be reconverted into mixed-use districts, in order to reduce distances between houses, shops and workplaces.
Aigle: houses on this side street could be easily turned into shops.
Garages: this space could be easily be turned into shops or ateliers
3 – Crowdsourcing
The first two steps were were dedicated to public powers, the third one is dedicated to developers. Single-family houses and cars are, above all, industrial products, sold with a well-established marketing policy. So, mixed-use development should be marketed focusing on things that single-family houses couldn’t offer: common spaces, a vibrant community, walkable neighborhoods. At the same time, mixed-use development should keep the image of a customized house in a natural environment, image that made the single-family house so popular.
A good way to achieve this goal could be crowdsourcing: build a Cohousing or Coworking community, organize events in order to make future cohousers/coworker meet (i.e. a few-days trip) then go on all together to a developer in order to build our dream’s home. And the community could create new synergies and promote new features, like co-buying and mobility plans.