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Things that I noticed in Ireland/Northern Ireland, Part 1

February 27, 2013

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I, along with six other Americans, recently stayed in the small city of Armagh, Northern Ireland, UK (Picture Above) for about a week to run a road race.

Armagh is a beautiful, small city–between 14 and 15 thousand people–an hour from Belfast and an hour and a half from Dublin.  It is an older city and it evolved naturally around its cathedrals and you do not see any development patterns that one would normally associate with restrictive zoning or “automobilization”.  It’s the kind of place that is highly touted by modern planners and advocates of mixed-use development (MUD).  And why not? It’s charming, quaint, and an overall friendly place.

One thing that I immediately noticed about the city–and I’m sure this is true in most small European cities–was the juxtaposition of delivery trucks in the town’s village setting.  They were everywhere!  And they needed to be!  Every store, every restaurant, every market relies on ground shipping!

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These trucks were only the size of the one pictured above.  They weren’t huge 18-wheelers or anything…  But if this were my home state of Connecticut, they would have been…  Because that is how ground shipping is done in America.

Now, my question is, if we are going to move forward in our designs of towns… If we are going to be advocates of MUD… If we are going to revert back to simple, village layouts with “walkable” streets… How will we plan for the delivery of goods?  How will Americans feel about Mac Trucks driving past their apartment at 3am?  Will they feel safe?  I am certainly not suggesting that MUD in America, at this day and age, is a bad idea.  But it do think this should be part of the conversation.

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