Naas is the 'big' town where I live.
On paper it has everything – shops, restaurants, hair dressers, a race course, a motorway, Aldi, Tesco, Lidl, car dealers, children's amusement centers, gyms, swimming pools, creches, a County Council building, primary and secondary schools, great proximity to Dublin, a canal with a harbour, a cinema, a fire station, several retail parks, several business parks – it even has a Costa in a car park and a big landmark ball! – it should really be a suburban heaven of opportunities, but somehow all this potential seem unfulfilled.
Just as so many other suburban cities Naas seems really lost – and this is due to one HUGE problem which is the forgotten human scale. Too much emphasis on cars and too little on people.
The overwhelming focus on designing for the movement of cars has destroyed both the town centre and the areas around the town:
Problem No 1 is that there is no proper public transport network to, from or within Naas (- an occasional bus and train simply does not count).
Problem No 2 is that this has let to an americanised traffic infrastructure of large wide new roads which allows cars to smoothly slide around the town (at least outside rush hour), but you do not want to leave the car to get onto the sparse left over spaces (also called footpaths and cycle paths) - they are not only uncomfortable, but also unsafe to navigate – in particular for children.
Problem No 3 is that the once sprawling main street has become both a car park and the vehicular link between both ends of the town, unable to cope with the number of cars, leaving narrow unsafe and un-connected footpaths to walk on.
Cities without a human scale become skewed, depressing, unhealthy, segregated and un-empathetic clumps of houses and the social and economic loss that the poor design accumulates is of a magnitude which unfortunately many politicians does not seem to grasp.