Three cool things seen while walking through the neighborhood today with my family and some stuffed animals: blue sky, tulips and a fire escape. Downtown Atlanta.

The leaves are returning to the trees in Downtown Atlanta. Scenes from a lunchtime stroll today.

Downtown Atlanta’s car infrastructure
This is a cool photo, above, but also depressing. Look at how much of this visible land space is devoted entirely to the movement and storage of cars:

Of course buses and bikes move on these roads too, but primarily this is cars, which is why there are so many lanes. And I haven’t even highlighted everything — there are some other parking garages way in the background.
This is Downtown Atlanta, the historic starting point of the city. It has gridded streets that were built years before automobiles and that were once served by a wide system of streetcars. Back then, these parcels that now host parking garages and surface lots were filled with buildings that housed people.
Even one of the most walkable parts of the city is affected heavily by car dependency. It’s impossible to live in a bubble of good urbanism in a metro area that relies so heavily on cars (and mostly single-occupancy ones) that serve the larger car-centric built environment. Sprawl affects us all.

Downtown Atlanta’s car infrastructure

This is a cool photo, above, but also depressing. Look at how much of this visible land space is devoted entirely to the movement and storage of cars:

Car storage

Of course buses and bikes move on these roads too, but primarily this is cars, which is why there are so many lanes. And I haven’t even highlighted everything — there are some other parking garages way in the background.

This is Downtown Atlanta, the historic starting point of the city. It has gridded streets that were built years before automobiles and that were once served by a wide system of streetcars. Back then, these parcels that now host parking garages and surface lots were filled with buildings that housed people.

Even one of the most walkable parts of the city is affected heavily by car dependency. It’s impossible to live in a bubble of good urbanism in a metro area that relies so heavily on cars (and mostly single-occupancy ones) that serve the larger car-centric built environment. Sprawl affects us all.

(Source: damnshelostweight, via throwback91)

New report confirms Metro Atlanta as leader in sprawl

image

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.

Good morning you beautiful hunk of city. Downtown Atlanta.

Good morning you beautiful hunk of city. Downtown Atlanta.

"Population growth has been shifting to the core counties of the USA’s 381 metro areas…Basically, the USA’s urban core is getting denser, while far-flung suburbs watch their growth dwindle. Driven by young professionals and retiring Baby Boomers who like living in cities, the trend is “180 degrees” from the last decade’s rush to the exurbs."

See ya, suburbs: More want to live in the big city | USA TODAY, March 27, 2014

The effect of the single-occupant car

image

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:

image

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.

Source of top image