Sunday, June 19, 2011

A walk on the suburban side

There are a lot of myths about North American suburban neighbourhoods; Like all myths, there is a bit of truth in what people say — but there is also a lot of folklore. According to popular mythology suburban streets are wide and designed with cars and not pedestrians in mind. There are few trees in suburbia. And the streets are often ugly, their appearance marred by the presence of all the garage doors.

Bunkum. At least it's bunkum when one looks at many specific suburban developments. The suburban street this 21-month-old little girl is strolling is very quiet when it comes to vehicular traffic; the street dead ends in court. Fiona has found that it is more heavily traveled by people out walking their dogs than by cars.

The traffic is so light that there are no sidewalks. It's mostly folk living on the short street that use this section of road. The street has no speed bumps nor does it have any other annoying, traffic-calming measures. The road itself is somewhat narrow and gently curved, this design acts to slow traffic down.

London, Ontario, is called The Forest City, and this neighbourhood is an excellent example of why the moniker fits. The large trees near the curb are trimmed and maintained by the city. The evergreens and other trees closer to the homes, like the Japanese maples with their deep red coloured leaves, are the responsibility of the individual home owners.

Fiona likes this street. Farther up the road, there is home with a rock garden instead of a lawn. She loves it. She thinks that rocks instead of grass is pretty cool.

She also loves that she can reach the court by strolling down a long walking path that starts opposite the park where she sometimes plays. I say sometimes because there are three parks in the area that have playground equipment for young kids. Fiona likes to mix 'em up as each one is a little different from the other two.

Just because a court is a dead end for cars does not mean it is necessarily a cul-de-sac for strollers.

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