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How can we make bicycle/pedestrian connections in cul-de-sac developments?

Safe and convenient bicycle and pedestrian travel options and connectivity are crucial to building an efficient, functional, sustainable transportation system. Culs-de-sac can create barriers to such a system.

Neighborhood developments pose distinct challenges to creating multimodal connectivity. That is why zoning codes and ordinances should encourage connecting culs-de-sac with other transportation and neighborhood destinations. In some cases utility easements or alleys abutting culs-de-sac can be designed for double duty as multi-use paths, creating cross-town connections.

Communities such as Davis, California, have used this strategy successfully. Neighborhoods are designed so that culs-de-sac connect to green belts (linear parks). These contain sidewalks and multi-use paths that offer opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian recreation and utilitarian trips, such as running errands and traveling to work or school.

It is more difficult, but not impossible, to retrofit existing cul-de-sac communities with bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly connections. In this scenario, bicycle/pedestrian connections must be carved out of private properties, streets, and rights-of-way. Municipalities have had success purchasing one or more affected properties, constructing a sidewalk or multi-use path between two culs-de-sac, and then re-selling the property. The City of Phoenix, Arizona, purchased and demolished a derelict property and constructed a multi-use path connection into an adjacent neighborhood.

A National Association of Realtors and National Association of Home Builders survey of 2,000 homebuyers ranked a trail as "the second most important neighborhood amenity for homebuyers." Trail and multimodal access between cul-de-sac developments contributes to more desirable communities.