A report released today from Smart Growth America calls Metro Atlanta the most sprawling large metro in the US. This confirms that, despite the strides in good urbanism happening all over the region in pockets, there’s a major uphill battle in the long run due to the sprawling development of the past.
Measuring Sprawl 2014 “evaluates development patterns in 221 major metropolitan areas and their counties based on four factors: density, land use mix, street connectivity and activity centering.”
The report lists the damage done to people living in sprawl:
- Sprawl harms economic mobility. In compact, connected areas, “a child born in the bottom 20% of the income scale has a better chance of rising to the top 20% of the income scale by age 30.”
- People in sprawling areas spend more on the combined expenses of housing and transportation and have fewer transportation options.
- Life expectancy is greater for people in compact, connected areas, where both fatal auto collision rates & average body mass index are lower and air quality is better.
And so the Atlanta region has its work cut out for it, being at a greater disadvantage than any other large metro in the US when it comes to inefficient, costly, damaging urban development patterns. It’s going to take good leadership on a region-wide level to make significant changes and retrofit the sprawl for a more sustainable urban environment that benefits us all.
— See ya, suburbs: More want to live in the big city | USA TODAY, March 27, 2014
No matter what kind of technology you use to power those single-occupant vehicles, the problem still remains: it’s an inefficient means of transportation on a large scale, and one that requires more road infrastructure than more efficient means such as public transportation.
Just look at what kind of mess that infrastructure has made of the center of Midtown Atlanta:
Imagine how many fewer lanes, on ramps and parking spaces we’ll need as the years go by — as Atlanta grows in a way that favors alternative transportation over single-occupancy cars. I think it’s bound to happen as we continue to undo the unnatural 20th-century practice of building places primarily for cars.
Environments that are designed too much at a car-scale instead of a human-scale are more difficult to walk and bike than they should be. Think about that the next time you complain about traffic or about how hard it is to find free parking somewhere. The easier it is to drive in a place, the harder it is to get around any other way.