If you’ve had a chance to visit or live in Calgary’s lush and leafy neighbourhoods, you’ve probably been mesmerised by the sight of cul-de-sacs. And for a good reason; Calgary cul-de-sacs, like most curved street styles, were developed to offer scenic driving experience. Of more importance, however, is that they provide an opportunity for neighbours to commingle.
But what exactly is a cul-de-sac?
Again, a cul-de-sac is a curved street style that entails a dead-end road with a characteristic “bulb-shaped” end. In Calgary, for one, these street forms are almost synonymous with estate-size homes which often have a roomy back yard but a narrow front yard. Cul-de-sacs typically incorporate a sidewalk or easement between homes for pedestrians and cyclists to cross to the adjacent block, offering ample connectivity for the suburbs.
Also, some cul-de-sacs have no back alleys because they aren’t relevant in modern Canadian neighbourhoods where walking paths and greenways replaced them.
A Little History of Cul-de-Sacs
The development of cul-de-sacs dates back to the ancient Middle East, but records show they were quite the rage in Rome and Athens. The name, which loosely translates to “end of the bag,” was coined and widely used in France and England between 17th and 19th centuries as the development of Garden Suburbs took off.
The development of cul-de-sacs, however, gained traction in North America as major cities opted for a grid pattern. As you might expect, the arrival of the automobiles began to shape street designs in modern American and Canadian suburbs. Although curved street style – popularly called Radburn Plan – was recommended early in 1929, it wasn’t until 1947 that it made its debut in Manitoba. Braeside and Varsity Village neighbourhoods, for instance, were created in the heydeys of 1960s using this curvilinear street design.
Most Calgary cul-de-sacs were designed to ease traffic. Of course, keeping traffic in Calgary neighbourhoods to a minimum comes with tremendous benefits. Here think of cleaner air, less noise and comfier ride home, not to mention greatly reduced accidents.
Besides bringing neighbours closer, cul-de-sacs are also poised to help the city of Calgary fight crime. As if that isn’t fabulous enough, they are also designed to rally kids to play outside. In fact, cul-de-sacs offer a safer space to put up game apparatus such as portable basketball hoops and volleyball nets.
On the other hand, some suburban developers are abandoning cul-de-sacs as they feel it might be a big put-off for claustrophobic people. Besides, they make the inclusion of sidewalks difficult. Even so, cul-de-sac remains an attractive spot for a family home.