Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New urbanism: Where's the door?

In the last week I have twice been to places in Middleton that seemed to have one address, but apparently have their main entrance off a parking lot.

Unfamiliar with either location, I looked up the addressed on Google Maps. Both are in "new urbanist" areas, and the streets where their primary addresses are located appear to be relatively transit/pedestrian/bicyclist friendly. Sort of. At least they are trying to be those things.
But both times, I arrived at the theoretical address to find a less-than-lively entrance.

One location did not even have an entrance at their address, as far as I could see. I had to enter a large surface lot - which served many restaurants and retail establishments - before I could find a way into the restaurant.

Tonight I arrived at the appointed address, on a nice, pedestrian-friendly street, in a famous new-urbanist development, and there was a clear entrance. But when I got inside, it just didn't feel like the door to a large and lively bar-restaurant. There was a row of video games/poker, and the rest rooms. This is the entrance? It wasn't until I walked around a bit that I saw the parking lot that most people clearly used, and the entrance off that lot felt much more like entering a friendly bar. And yet the other businesses on the block seem to face prominently onto "the street." it felt strange.

Both places were pleasant enough, but both made me feel that patrons were expected to arrive by car and know to park in the surface lot. The entrances made that clear.

New urbanism still has a ways to go.

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