- How Can Cities Reverse Urban Sprawl, Increase Transit Use, Reduce Emissions? (PDF)
- Low Crime Rates In Large Cities Support Multi-Modal Planning and Smart Growth (PDF)
- Smart Growth and Transportation (PDF)
Urbanists keep wondering how to reverse ‘Urban Sprawl‘. Well the simple answer is to cap the size of cities and increase the number of metropolitan areas. In essence decentralize. We do this with schools, businesses, churches, towns.
For some reason people who consider themselves ‘dyed-in-the-wool‘ urbanists cannot seem to understand the value of not living in a congested area. People want to raise their children in towns where the population is more homogenous in terms of income (which helps reduce crime) and the city services are not overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people relying upon them.
Next time you want to see this sort of thing in action trying calling your main post office and asking for detailed information about shipping or deliveries. There is a world of difference in response times between the main post office in Chicago and one in a suburban town where people actually know your name when you stop in on a weekend to pick up packages.
In fact the one reason people resist living in cities is the depersonalization of their environments. Cities are so large as to be simply overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people who live in them. And if that were not enough, the varied income levels all crammed into a city the size of Chicago mean that the poor suffer far worse than they might in a suburban town because the number of needy people is that much greater.
Like it or not when you have a large part of your population that cannot contribute to the tax pool that creates the ability to provide services it turns the city into a net taker of services than a source of increased resources to provide them.
Cities like Chicago and New York end up draining the coffers of the surrounding towns and villages because they demand so much additional money to provide services that any Federal help may never reach the suburbs.
Highway and Mass Transit Behemoths
And this all makes the size of highways surrounding and moving through cities just that much worse. If the size of cities like Chicago were not as great then the transportation demands would be fewer. And if that were the case the rate of repair would diminish.
But Urbanists are steadfast in their belief that it is the need of suburbanites to get from their remote ‘livable and sustainable‘ hamlets into the cities for work that creates the problem. Actually if it were not for these suburban oases the size of the city would continue to grow and the income disparity would get worse. Once your population has committed to a city environment, the need for mass transit skyrockets.
The number of buses and the sad state of their repair cannot sustain a city with a population like that in New York and Chicago without swamping them. Street repair issues would skyrocket unless you have a way to prevent people from using automobiles. But that would be dangerous because it would mean that businesses outside the city would have little chance of obtaining workers without automobiles. Most mass transit systems simply are too large and cumbersome to be nimble enough to keep pace with changes in business opportunities.
Light rail is nearly impossible to predict the need for and to create the infrastructure for in a timely fashion. Buses are the more nimble but also far less efficient. The problem again is always the number of people and the great concentration of them wanting to move from point-to-point at the same time.
Capping the size and placement of cities to in essence make them more manageable is a far better idea than shoving even more people in concrete jungles where few green places are available and the air quality itself is questionable.
Water usage and electricity production alone make cities a very inefficient form of habitation. They are too big and frankly to stressful to be places in which families can thrive easily.