Maine Town to be Car-Free!

I have to confess—I had the unusual and lucky experience of living in one of the most bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly cities in the world, Groningen. It was named “Best Bicycling City of the World” (on two occasions, I think). It is perhaps the top bicycling city in the top bicycling country of the Netherlands. Why am I telling you all this? I’m telling you all this because it was one of the most wonderful places I’ve ever been, and I’m not sure I can think of a place with a higher quality of life; but I think you can’t imagine such a place if you haven’t lived there, or at least been there. So, when sharing the great news in the title above with you, you just have to use your imagination a bit and trust me about all that (if you haven’t lived or been in such a place).

But, to the details….

So, the town’s name is (or will be..) is Piscataquis Village Project and it will have extremely narrow streets that, by default, won’t accept cars (unless they’re really, really small).

“A group of Maine residents wants to start a Kickstarter-style funding project for the village, where interested parties will pledge to buy some portion of the necessary 125 acres of land,” Grist’s Christopher Mims writes. “If the group reaches critical mass, construction of the town’s tiny streets will get underway.”

This is not all that unusual, especially amongst New Urbanists. I’ve been involved in a few such projects. But, obviously, they aren’t taking over the U.S. As all New Urbanist developments are, the town will have very specific design guidelines. The point, of course, is to create a truly nice living environment that has a good mixture of the urban and the human.

However, there is room for freedom and creativity. “We envision a settlement evolving organically and growing incrementally,” leader of the project, Tracy Gayton, writes. “Those people or groups of people that wish to pursue their own, various versions of the Good Life within the bounds of the Village are welcome.”

A long slideshow of what the town is supposed to be about (with plenty of pretty pictures of nice towns around the world) can be viewed at the link above.

Sources: Grist & Market Urbanism

Image of Groningen by me (Zachary Shahan)

4 thoughts on “Maine Town to be Car-Free!”

  1. Why not support and allow electric or hydrogen (HHO) cars in the village as well? They don’t pollute and run from clean energy sources. The rest of the world needs to follow this because gasoline consumption affects everyone on the planet.

    1. i think because it’s more about improving the quality of life of the place where you live… a town for human-scaled vehicles is immensely more enjoyable than a town centered around automobiles. The environmental benefits are just a bonus in this story, i think.

  2. Dang, Zachary-

    You’re even more optimistic than we are! Can we get you on the Piscataquis Village Project team?

    Our design guidelines will be based on Six Key Design Elements, which we believe will result in a Traditional Village/City design pattern that goes beyond most anything you will see out of the New Urbanists (whom we have the utmost respect for).

    Small Plazas, Really Narrow Streets, Attached Buildings, Arcaded-Covered Sidewalks, Interior Courtyards, and Car Free.

    Indeed, the streets will be narrow, but not so narrow that emergency vehicle access will be compromised.

    Thanks for the article!

    Tracy Gayton

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