Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/51

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OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

Two simple and obvious opportunities for the town planner's skill are the removal or alleviation of traffic difficulties and the provision of open spaces.

In the first of these exercises he must always beware of assuming that the problem set before him is the proper subject for his attack. Frequently, a mere symptom is mistaken for the disease, and it is by no means certain that a corporation's idea of its own needs is correct. Moreover, road making and road mending can never in a valuable city be considered as a mere engineering process apart from questions of beauty or questions of historic and archaeological interest. Most roads are of more financial value than many houses, and there is at least as good reason for affording architectural—shall I say artistic—advice in half-a-mile of road as in a thousand pound villa. Yet a man on an income of four hundred a year will engage an architect for his week-end cottage, while a corporation with millions at its disposal would, until recent years, laugh at the idea of taking an artist's advice on a new street.

There are many ways of obviating traffic congestion among which road- widening, always costly, is not always the best.

In the provision of open spaces, heed should be given to the possibilities connected with the modern idea of circuit roads. Such roads may easily be planned in most cities in such a course, as to combine with the required avenue a broad girdle of almost rural woodland and meadow which would go far to mitigate the unpleasant relapse through gradations of ugliness, which forms the outer ring of most English towns.