We need to stop building bad places. We don’t need to build Rome or Paris. We just need to stop building Houston. — Eight Steps To Improve Urbanism | Streets MN, 7/26/2014
Citylab has an interesting and kinda scary piece this week on the projected urbanization of southeastern US cities like Atlanta. Here’s a quote:
The South’s explosive population growth over the past 60 years can only be expected to continue, the researchers report. And more likely than not, so will its typical development pattern of sprawling, automobile-dependent suburbs. Planners and city leaders should start acting now to managing infrastructure and natural resources in the area.
The image above comes from a recent scholarly report titled The Southern Megalopolis: Using the Past to Predict the Future of Urban Sprawl in the Southeast U.S. It shows the projected urban land cover (red) in 2060 in contrast to the current land cover (yellow).
Let’s not let this projection come true. In addition to creating places that are more walkable and more easily served by multiple transportation options, urban infill within already-developed places is a much more environmentally sound idea than continued sprawl of our urban footprint.
There’s a longstanding eco-urban idea that lies at the heart of what makes me an urbanist — if you love nature, live apart from it. Compact growth leaves more room for our precious unbuilt land. A recent post at Better Institutions says it well:
We move from the city to the suburb or the rural town to be closer to nature, and to make it habitable (for us) we clear-cut it for new development, pave it over and turn woods and grasslands into manicured lawns, pollute it with our vehicles, etc. In our efforts to possess a small slice of “nature,” we change the meaning of the word, leaving us with something beautiful, perhaps, but far from natural.
Which is not to say that we shouldn’t have trees and parks in the city because, of course, that’s essential. Just don’t confuse those small, disconnected bits of green as true nature. That’s what exists beyond the asphalt and rooftops.
Peachtree Street, Atlanta
Public transit is far from the only thing that makes for a shorter commute. As those economists found, it’s also a question of sprawl. City design and transit go hand in hand: it’s easier to design a public transit system that efficiently connects people in a more compact city than in a big one. — Suburban sprawl and bad transit can crush opportunity for the poor | Vox, 7/23/14
"4 Requirements for a Bikeable Community" — cool graphic on from good.