The theory behind cul-de-sacs was that they lessened traffic, since they change the primary function of local streets — rather than offering a way to get anywhere, now they simply provide access to private residences.
Sounds great, right? Wrong!
…this design inherently encourages car use, even for the shortest trips. It also limits the growth of communities and transportation options.
They contrast two 1km walks in two neighborhoods in Seattle, Woodingville (cul-de-sacs) and Ballard (typical grid):
Cul-de-sacs also make you less safe:
The argument that cul-de-sacs increase safety because they limit traffic is also misguided — the more empty and desolate a suburban (and often affluent) street is, the more likely crime is to occur. Also, it’s much harder for emergency vehicles to reach these homes if they’re sequestered in the belly of a web of disconnected dead-ends.
Cul-de-sacs also make your fatter, increase the amount of cars on the road and decrease the amount of people walking and biking!
recent studies by Frank and others show that the higher a neighborhood’s overall walkability, the greater the amount of walking and biking— which means a drop in per capita air pollution, fuel use, and body mass index.