Mary's Reviews > Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

Suburban Nation by Andrés Duany
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's review
Jun 05, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: craftyness, nonfiction, histoir, the-good-life
Read from May 26 to June 04, 2010

Much like Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere, except more hopeful.
Suburban Nation is very readable, while remaining technical enough that the reader is conscious of learning something. It suggests workable (proven to be so) solutions that the authors and their colleagues have personally implemented. However, the reader never gets the sense that the authors are tooting their own horn.
They take you through all sorts of things - facts, methods, skills, ordinances, quirks, zoning stupidities - that you'd never known but perhaps FELT. Like:
- curb radius: a long, swooping curb with a radius of 20 feet will make more work for the pedestrian, and greater ease for the driver, while crossing an intersection. A tighter, sharper curb makes for an easier intersection-crossing as well as safer drivers who have to slow way down in order to turn.
- the two leading causes of teenage deaths are owed in part to the ever-increasing construction of suburbs. Car crashes (the first cause) are encouraged by wide streets and the long-awaited freedom attained once driving age is reached. Before this age, parents are required to chauffeur their kids EVERYWHERE. ... And suicide (the second cause) is encouraged through the boredom, and again, the lack of independence a car culture creates by requiring a chauffeur to get oneself anywhere worth going. There's nothing to do if you can't drive.
- complicated intersections (as sometimes found in older parts of towns) typically have far fewer crashes than you'd think. As opposed to a gigantic, nine-lanes-across, perpendicular intersection, which generates the competitive, gun-your-engine mentality among drivers ... a complicated seven-way intersection, possibly joining two-way streets with one-ways, or channeling several streets onto a single one, forces drivers to watch the hell out, and be more careful than they'd otherwise be.
This and so much more are contained in these pages. It's a truly edifying book, and leaves you with a sense of hope.

A beautiful town! A lovely and memorable neighborhood! The time is now!

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05/26/2010 page 14
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