Our Views: Old, isolated in suburbia


This op-ed from Luisiana’s The Advocate points out a fact that in the coming years will be a real issue for American cities: we’re getting old.  People are beginning to outlive their ability to drive.  Some suburbs, such as Fayetteville, GA, are trying to retrofit themselves so that they can maintain an aging society that may not be able to drive in a few years.  Among some of their strategies are a new street grid, denser housing, and a system of public parks instead of private yards (for those who can’t mow for themselves anymore).  Baton Rouge, LA, is also taking measures to try and become more walkable with Plan Baton Rouge.  Although greenfield development is often less than ideal from a planning perspective, it can turn out well, such as at Lafayette‘s River Ranch.  But current Baton Rouge is not very pedestrian friendly, and the author remarks, “If you don’t have a car, or someone to drive you, this is not a very good place to live.”  Not only is it hard in this atmosphere for people who can’t drive to get to the places they need to go, it is also hard for them to get together, and many begin to feel isolated.  As good of an idea as it is to try and fix the suburbs, there aren’t many politicians who have the political will (read: cajones) to make the change.  But Louisiana has great examples in New Orleans and downtown Baton Rouge, and hopefully they can make that transition.

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