Lew Oliver, of Lew Oliver Inc. Whole Town Solutions in Roswell, Ga., is a big proponent of walkable communities. Many of the master plans he designs are walkable hamlets with mixed-use building that allow residents to get to shops and restaurants on foot. And he incorporates town greens, making pedestrian look posh.
But even Oliver concedes that sometimes walking just won’t cut it. He does not concede, however, that the solution has to lie in cars or even mass transit. Instead, Oliver has started using "green streets"—lanes that are accessible to pedestrians, bicycles, and golf carts—as the main thoroughfares, while relegating cars to alleys.
Ball Ground, Ga., a suburb about 50 miles north of Atlanta, has become the first town in the country to use the concept on a community-wide scale. Desperate to save their quaint hamlet from the poorly planned urban sprawl that was taking over and turning traffic into a nightmare, the town called in Oliver and Whole Town Solutions to retrofit the entire town.
"We didn’t want to widen roads, because it would have destroyed the character of the whole place," Oliver says. Instead, he overlaid the entire town with green streets, and then started incorporating them meaningfully into the community.
"We talked to principals … and tied the green streets into the school systems, which allowed parents and teenagers to get to and from the schools in golf carts," he says. The carts also provided an alternative for elderly residents who no longer wanted to drive a full-size car.
"I would dare say we got 100% consent with the community," Oliver says.
The system also touts green benefits, since the carts can be run on electricity rather than gasoline. Two neighboring communities have since committed to tying their plans into Ball Ground’s green street grid.
Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.