I’m not a big fan of planned communities (especially building new ones), for a few reasons: there is already a large amount of new housing that remains uninhabited, many houses in planned communities tend to be unaffordable to a lot of home buyers, the environmental factor (a lot of trees are usually cut down to clear space for these houses, and to build them, not to mention added energy costs to truck in supplies, etc.), and the created illusion of a “neighborhood,” when in reality they are typically set back or apart from the rest of the community. But if there’s any new planned community that I can get behind, it’s Bicycle City in Gaston, South Carolina.
Joe Mellett, founder and developer of Bicycle City, wanted to create a housing development that was as environmentally friendly as possible. Construction on the community, set to begin sometime this year, will include 10 houses that will be built either to LEED certifications or One Planet Living (a collaboration between BioRegional and WWF) standards, and 4.5 miles of bicycle and walking trails. But perhaps the most unique feature of Bicycle City is that it will be completely car-free.
That’s not to say that residents won’t be allowed to have cars — they’ll just need to be parked outside of the development. Emergency vehicles will be allowed in and there are plans to get bicycle taxis to cater to the needs of those living in the small community.
In the long term, there are some fairly lofty goals planned for the development including hosting green conferences and conventions, vegetarian and vegan restaurants, organic farming, and concerts and festivals. When completed, Bicycle City hopes to be a community where people can “live, work, and play.”
I think this is a great idea as far as planned communities go. With a median household income in South Carolina of $46,023, the $100,000 price tag for homes is fairly affordable. For those who don’t want to be locked into the cost and maintenance of a house, the community plans to offer townhouses, apartments, lofts and even treehouses to appeal to everyone’s housing needs.
And it doesn’t stop with Gaston, South Carolina. If the original Bicycle City is successful I’m sure that more will follow suit. Mellett and company are already mapping out other cities and countries that could support a similar development. If we’re going to continue to build planned communities in the future, let’s hope they’ll follow the Bicycle City model and offer sustainable living options. The world already has enough tree-cleared, energy sucking, cookie cutter housing developments.