Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ReThink London: The answer is "fused grid"

The woman was at the ReThink London event because she cared about her city. After the presentation, she had one simple question for the speaker: When it comes to urban land use, is the traditional grid pattern the best approach for conserving land? The speaker didn't have an answer.

I did. I had my notebook computer open on my lap, connected to the Internet. The London Convention Centre is a public hotspot. I googled 'CMHC' and 'fused'. Voila! (If you don't understand voila, google it.)

Visit the CMHC site and you will learn that the grid pattern of streets often encountered in older neighbourhoods provides connectivity at the expense of tranquility and safety. These are but two of the good reasons people stopped building neighbourhoods with long, straight, intersecting streets going it seemed to infinity.

Read reporter Randy Richmond's piece, They call it placemaking, in The London Free Press and posted online by the city planning department. Read it carefully, read it critically, ask questions and use google to search for answers.

If you think critically, you may come to the same conclusions as the CMHC-sponsored research.

[The traditional] grid pattern ushered in the era of traffic calming through use of speed bumps, traffic circles and stop signs which together impede traffic flow, increase automobile emissions and noise, reduce air quality and often lead to driver frustration. These grid street patterns are the most land consuming and consequently the least environmentally sustainable.

The research showed that neither the grid street pattern nor the looping suburban street pattern were the optimum solution. A new hybrid of the two approaches, called the fused grid, was suggested. It got this name because it is a synthesis of two well known and extensively used street patterns: the grid, in use since about 2000BC, and the Radburn, a recent approach to street planning.

The claim is made that "the fused grid balances the needs of the pedestrian and the motorist. It responds to the quest for economic efficiency and the need for environmental stewardship. It promotes active transportation which improves health and reduces vehicular travel and green house gas (GHG) emissions."

If you are attending ReThink London meetings, I would highly recommend reading the CMHC post on the fused grid: A neighbourhood and district layout model. Stratford, Ontario, studied three options for a new residential neighbourhood, and selected the fused grid model. Download a free copy of the CMHC report, Applying Fused-Grid Planning in Stratford, Ontario.

Wikipedia also has a good article on the fused grid.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this informative and enthusiastic post.
    As the main researcher at CMHC (2003-2008) that drove the development of the Fused Grid, I am delighted to see that increasingly more people find it useful in thinking about better places.
    You can find more articles, papers, drawings, presntations and images at the fusedgrid.ca site and the associated blog. OR by searching Fused Grid on google.

    More communities are springing up that have been designed based on the fused grid model.

    Thanks again

    Fanis Grammenos, Director
    Urban Pattern Associates
    Planning Consultants
    203 Flora street
    Ottawa, ON K1R 5R6

    e-mail: fanis.grammenos@gmail.com

    Blog: http://blog.fusedgrid.ca/