Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors



First Advisor

Meghan Cope

Second Advisor

Richard Watts


Dead-end, Disconnected street, Cul-de-sac, Grid street, Smart Growth, Street connectivity


For over six decades, professionals within the real estate industry, homebuyers, and planners have favored the cul-de-sac, an iconic symbol of suburban America. The cul-de-sac is a dead-end street characterized by a circular end to facilitate the turnaround of an automobile in one seamless motion. However, recent debates have challenged this street design. Cul-de-sac development and its connection with concerns related to urban sprawl have sparked a great deal of controversy between planners, developers, and policy makers. Relationships between physical neighborhood factors such as security, street connectivity, green spaces, and communal integration are often highlighted as the key elements that cause conflict between the proponents of the cul-de-sac and those who favor a grid street layout. Supporters of Smart Growth, a movement to highlight the need to develop more sustainable communities, claim that neighborhoods with cul-de-sacs tend to be more car-dependent, less safe for pedestrians, and can encourage crime by reducing levels of social cohesion and connectivity, while grid layouts foster non-car transport, can improve walkability, and lessen crime because of their enhanced permeability. This study uses a mixed-methods approach to understand: what is the experience of, and specifically, what is attractive about cul-de-sacs to residents in Chittenden County, Vermont, and what opinions do planning professionals have of cul-de-sacs?