Main Street

This is the sort of human-scale, pedestrian-oriented streetscape you’d expect to find in an older town like Medfield that was built prior to the age of the car. Unfortunately very little of the downtown has this urban form. Most of it feels more like this:

This is one of the two major crossroads in the downtown. Apparently there is so much pavement available it wasn’t even worth figuring out how to stripe parking spaces on the large expanse shown above.

Compared to the auto-age suburbs of Seattle (and most urban areas in the U.S. for that matter), older small towns like Medfield have much better potential to be remade into pedestrian-oriented centers. But given the low-density, car-oriented built form of the vast majority of the town, a transition to reduced car-dependence is hard to imagine. The New England suburbs may be prettier than most in the U.S., but the future scenario in a world of peak oil and drastic limits on greenhouse gas emissions is every bit as ugly.