While in London, we live here . As you can see this Council Estate (Ranelagh Estate) was constructed in the 1950s as a cul-de-sac at the end of Sefton Street. To the north are playing fields in Barnes, the west is Putney Commons, to the Northwest is the Thames River, and to the East is the rest of Putney. You see some tennis courts on the east side of the image off Stockhurst Close, next to the tennis court, obscured by tree cover, is a playground for small children, ideal for Benjamin (age 2.5). These are just a short distance away ... if I were a bird.
Unfortunately, I am a pedestrian, which means I need to walk down Sefton to Lower Richmond Road and back up Danemere Street to Ashlone to access this particular playground. It is not a bad walk, but it is about 3 x longer than a straight line path.
Why is there no direct connection? Note that the development on Stockhurst Close was developed in the 1980s or 1990s and should thus been approved with fairly cognizant planners who should have ensured at least inter-neighborhood pedestrian connectivity.
On the front of my building is a sign "No Access to Thames". I am not clear if this is intended to be a feature (don't park here if you want to get to the Thames for a walk or to watch the Races) or a signal that people who live on Estates don't deserve access to the River the way people who paid far more to live on Danemere or Ashlone do.
Just as Stockhurst Close does not provide access to Horne Way, there is another route, a pedestrian path between Pentlow and Danemere connecting the estate to Lower Richmond (which was probably once a driveway to access the estate), which is a quite lovely long park, surrounded by walls on both sides, with no connection to (or from) Pentlow or Danemere.
Having grown up in suburban Columbia, Maryland, fences and walls are strange, but this solid barrier preventing access is very strange, a corridor for the lower classes so they don't interfere with their betters? In Columbia the homes would just back onto the trail so residents could access the park.
I mentioned the sign "No Access to Thames". The sign is not strictly true, if one leaves the estate through a gate to the west you can access the Putney Commons, and if you turn north, you can access a nice unpaved pedestrian path along Beverly Brook (running in the trees between the northern part of Horne Way and the southern part of the Barnes playing fields). This winds its way to the Thames, and you can approach the playground there. This is not terribly well-marked, and is about as long as the more urban path along Lower Richmond, but locals know about it. (I discovered it after a few months).
Finally, if I think the Putney playground is too exclusive, I can walk across Putney Commons to Barnes Common (to the west, and there is a playground in Barnes tucked away hidden from the street, behind parking lots, playing fields and tennis courts ( here.
This is in another borough (Richmond upon Thames), supported by their taxes, making me (or Benjamin) a free-rider, as there are no longer inter-borough tolls (see Chapter 2), and the playground is free (though in principle excludable because their is a gate, the collection costs of charging for the playground probably outweigh the revenue.
Ahmed El-Geneidy and I have a recent working paper on Network Circuity and the Location of Home and Work. This paper deals with the question more macroscopically, at the metropolitan level. It turns out people arrange their home and work location to reduce circuity (so they can get more space for the minute of commuting).