||06-19-14 08:43 AM
Originally Posted by Roody
I think we should keep in mind that suburb and sprawl are not the same thing.
A lot of people like suburbs, but I think it's fair to say that everybody hates sprawl. Suburbs can be beautiful places for carfree people and motorists to live. Sprawl is wasted space, inefficient, ugly, not nice for children and other living things.
Referring back to the OP, what can be done to allow spacious suburbs without having as much sprawl?
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
IMO, some of our LCF comrades have a fondness for sugar coating a return to the good old days of anti-sprawl, high density car free living for the urban masses. Not everybody can live the life of an urban hipster/Yuppie with high income and no family responsibilities.
I agree with Roody that suburbs are not the problem and that sprawl has not so much to do with suburban development as it does with creating distances that practically necessitate driving, which then leads to destinations being widely spread out with wide, multi-lane roads to accommodate all the motor-traffic. Once people get in the habit of driving everywhere, new development is planned according to driving convenience. Public space becomes little more than drive-by scenery. Public life becomes an aesthetic/driving experience viewed from a sitting position in a motor-vehicle. Walking and cycling in such places can be alienating unless you're doing purely for the exercise and reserve all other purposes for driving.
Sprawl really boils down to density, not population density but density of destinations per mile of road, the width and speed limits of roads, the size of parking areas and other unused land between businesses and other developments, etc. Density doesn't have to look like these pictures or like a modern urban area. In fact, most modern urban areas have gone too far with concrete and building because the value of developed properties are so high in these areas.
An ideal sprawl-free area
would allow development in a way that preserves green space and trees. Buildings can be strategically placed in clearings between trees and paths for walking/biking paved between the trees. Parking would be mostly limited to loading/unloading except for maybe centrally-located parking garages, which would be priced to encourage other transit choices when possible. Motor-lanes would be separated by treed islands and medians as much as possible to keep the roads shaded and facilitate moisture retention. Some multi-story builidngs, apartment complexes, condos, could be used but single-family homes could also be built in between trees.
The main issue is minimizing motor-traffic or at least keeping it a small-enough proportion of total traffic that it doesn't become the defining transportation paradigm in planning and development. I hate to put such a negative focus on driving but until motor-traffic is @50% of total traffic or less, I don't think city planning and development will be truly bike- and transit- friendly.
Once @50% or more of total traffic is non-motorized and transit, and sprawl development is a thing of the past, I don't see why cities can't expand indefinitely. After all, 'urban' at that point is essentially replaced with 'forest in-fill development that minimizes motor traffic and eliminates its presence altogether wherever possible.' In such a situation, why would new suburban development add to traffic problems in existing parts of the city? The problem with sprawl is that it snow-balls motor-traffic as it grows.