Is suburbia the new utopia? Probably not, because they're still the suburbs (I kid!), but there is momentum to this trend of building or...
Is suburbia the new utopia? Probably not, because they're still the suburbs (I kid!), but there is momentum to this trend of building or retrofitting suburbs to become more energy-efficient and-most impressively-car-free.There's a good piece in The New York Times about the well-heeled German community of Freiberg, where people have given up their cars altogether. It's an experiment that flies in the face of the gas-guzzling reputation we've assigned to modern suburbs, and it has promise.The key, of course, is retooling the town so that it's actually car-free-friendly. For starters, the town shops serve multiple purposes at once, so you don't have to schlep around too much to run your errands, and everything is within walking distance from the energy-efficient rowhouses. If residents really want to, they can have their own car, but they have to park it on the outskirts of town in municipal lot spaces that cost $40,000 apiece. (Further proof that "taxing" potentially irresponsible behavior is a really good idea.)Sounds like great ideas all around-and leaps and bounds better than some other admittedly creative (but in my opinion misguided) efforts to rethink the way we live. But can it work here? The other day we looked at Mackinac Island, where as many as 500 residents have also forgone cars for other ways to get around. An anomaly, but also an interesting model.Well done, Germany! In addition to your strong Environmental Performance Index rating (number 13), You can now add this to the ever-growing list of pioneering efforts for a more sustainable way to live.Photo by Martin Specht for The New York Times