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-   -   Sprawl-free vs. car-free (http://www.bikeforums.net/living-car-free/954453-sprawl-free-vs-car-free.html)

RPK79 06-19-14 08:35 AM

I'm all for sprawl. Let the cesspools that are the urban centers die a slow death.

Roody 06-19-14 08:41 AM

Why do suburban people get so defensive whenever this topic is brought up? There is nobody trying to tell any body that they have to live in a crowded urban environment. It's a free country and you can live anywhere you can afford to live. That will never change. So get over it!

The question is, how can we get rid of the senseless ugly sprawl, while preserving the spaciousness and tranquility that people hope to find in the suburbs? Or, how can the suburbs be made nicer than they already are?

tandempower 06-19-14 08:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16863969)
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?

Quote:

Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike (Post 16864378)
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.

RPK79 06-19-14 08:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16864467)
Why do suburban people get so defensive whenever this topic is brought up? There is nobody trying to tell any body that they have to live in a crowded urban environment. It's a free country and you can live anywhere you can afford to live. That will never change. So get over it!

The question is, how can we get rid of the senseless ugly sprawl, while preserving the spaciousness and tranquility that people hope to find in the suburbs? Or, how can the suburbs be made nicer than they already are?

I'm not getting defensive. I don't understand what your issue is... You show pictures of suburbs but say suburbs aren't the problem. You give a definition of sprawl as a decentralization of urban centers (ie: a move to suburbs), but you say suburbs aren't the problem. You keep saying your not "attacking" suburbs, but at the same time you are asking how do we stop people from moving into and building more suburbs. The problem is people don't want to live in the dense cities anymore now that they don't need to live there in order to survive, and since this is such a land wealthy nation there is no lack of places to build. All the jobs aren't in the cities anymore by the way. The 'burbs boast a ton of production, service, and technical jobs for their local residents to be employed at. It is less expensive to build jobs out in the 'burbs where cramped spaces don't make space come at a premium. Also, since many people don't want to live in the dense cities the 'burbs will bring in more talented employees who are in turn higher paid giving the suburb a larger tax base to build needed infrastructure like bike trails and buses.

bbeasley 06-19-14 10:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tandempower (Post 16864475)
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.

Well said!

How far spread out is too far for bike commuting to work?

daihard 06-19-14 10:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by no1mad (Post 16863944)
So it made economic sense for the both of you to move closer to work (at the time). Cool :).

Unfortunately, we have kids and that introduces other variables into the 'where to live' matrix- quality of schools, local crime rate, location/condition of parks, daycare (depending on age of child)... we headed for the outskirts of the city and then on in to a 'burb proper a couple of years after that because it afforded us the best value for space, better schools, and perceived safety.

Yeah, I can see how children can throw in a lot more factors into the decision making process. I know a few friends who are considering moving so they can send their children to reputable public school. :)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Machka (Post 16863967)
Rowan's and my situation adds a different extra variable for us ... we work about 40 km apart. We can't live within walking or easy cycling distance to both our places of employment.

It would be nice if you guys could live right in between. That would give each of you 20 km to commute, which IMO is relatively easy cycling distance. :)

fietsbob 06-19-14 11:55 AM

The City of Paris is where they push those who cannot afford living in the city out to the 'Burbs .. thats why the immigrant Riots are out there.

MickeyMaguire 06-19-14 01:34 PM

I think it comes down to urban crime versus the relative safety of outlying areas. That is a reality in many places I have lived in the past. My wife and I talked about moving to St. Augustine because of the no-car district. I like the idea of opening a gallery for my artwork and also like a quiet community where I can relax outside if I wish and work on my latest book or write blog posts.

FenderTL5 06-19-14 01:56 PM

mixed-use zoning.

As long as large areas of land are zoned commercial only, or residential only - then you spread things out.

Roody 06-19-14 02:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RPK79 (Post 16864500)
I'm not getting defensive. I don't understand what your issue is... You show pictures of suburbs but say suburbs aren't the problem. You give a definition of sprawl as a decentralization of urban centers (ie: a move to suburbs), but you say suburbs aren't the problem. You keep saying your not "attacking" suburbs, but at the same time you are asking how do we stop people from moving into and building more suburbs. The problem is people don't want to live in the dense cities anymore now that they don't need to live there in order to survive, and since this is such a land wealthy nation there is no lack of places to build. All the jobs aren't in the cities anymore by the way. The 'burbs boast a ton of production, service, and technical jobs for their local residents to be employed at. It is less expensive to build jobs out in the 'burbs where cramped spaces don't make space come at a premium. Also, since many people don't want to live in the dense cities the 'burbs will bring in more talented employees who are in turn higher paid giving the suburb a larger tax base to build needed infrastructure like bike trails and buses.

As several people have said, it's not the suburbs that are the problem, it's the way the suburbs are connected and laid out. In a sprawl zone, buildings and roads are basically plunked down wherever it was easy for the developer to get his trucks in. Each housing area is separate and alone, so you have to go out on a busy street to visit somebody a few yards away in a different subdivision. The stores all stand alone instead of gathered together in a mall or business district. Again you must drive between each store, and they may be miles apart. It's the same thing with other destinations--schools, offices, parks, entertainment--all separate. It's the endless driving between these places that suburban residents are always complaining about. And they use more resources (expense +pollution), which affects them personally and all of society.

This is not a good way to be. The suburbanites themselves are the ones who should be up in arms about it! It's their own time, money, and peace of mind that are being taken away by sprawl.

RPK79 06-19-14 03:03 PM

That has not been my experience and if that is someone's experience and they dislike living there they can move. We all get to choose where we live.

jade408 06-19-14 03:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by phoebeisis (Post 16864274)
I was a bit unclear.I was trying to say there were parts of USA cities much like the OP wanted-low sprawl-high population density parts of cities where most folks walk or take public transportation(or expensive taxis). MANHATTAN parts of San Francisco.
My point is those areas of the city are impossibly expensive.

Asia has high density cities-don't think they are tree lined-despite the building being relatively low.

Many streets in NOLA are tree lined- huge trees-actual canopy-but they aren't high density-1,2 stories-with a bit of a yard
We used to have excellent public transportation-trolleys-but not any more.We have a few trolleys but mainly stinky diesel buses(that have lost some of their sooty stench lately)
Maybe folks could post pictures of high density streets neighborhoods or cities??

Yeah post pictures-1000 words etc

I live in Oakland. Transit is decent. But within let's say 3-4 miles of downtown, there are a range of housing types. Lots of single family home areas with yards (and tree-lined streets). Denser areas that mix multi-story and single family. And denser areas with no single family at all. Just about every one of those neighborhoods is within a 10 minute walk to a "main street" with groceries, restaurants, cafes, pharmacies, dry cleaners, post offices etc. Frequent transit is a little hit or miss within that 10 minute walk but good within a mile.

Walkable doesn't mean super dense. And "urban" can come in many forms.

Here are some sample areas in that radius:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Tr...92ea8a76b10702

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cr...da3ca4!6m1!1e1

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ad...d47a26c93868f0

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Te...a845a40f3848b6

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mo...48d8a0918455d3

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ho...045be8b461594d

Roody 06-19-14 03:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RPK79 (Post 16865688)
That has not been my experience and if that is someone's experience and they dislike living there they can move. We all get to choose where we live.

Do you live in a suburb with a thriving central business district? Is it convenient for most people to walk or ride a bike from their house to the hardware store?

You say if people don't like sprawl, they can move. You mean like the farmers who used to live there moved...when their property was seized to build the sprawl in the first place?

Anyway, it's clear that a lot of people are moving away from the sprawl. But in a lot of areas you don't have much choice.

Roody 06-19-14 03:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jade408 (Post 16865717)
I live in Oakland. Transit is decent. But within let's say 3-4 miles of downtown, there are a range of housing types. Lots of single family home areas with yards (and tree-lined streets). Denser areas that mix multi-story and single family. And denser areas with no single family at all. Just about every one of those neighborhoods is within a 10 minute walk to a "main street" with groceries, restaurants, cafes, pharmacies, dry cleaners, post offices etc. Frequent transit is a little hit or miss within that 10 minute walk but good within a mile.

Walkable doesn't mean super dense. And "urban" can come in many


Thats a a very good point. You can have single homes with yards, but that are not all sprawled out. My own street is like that. Quiet, tree lined, well shaded. In fact, most streets in mid-sized Midwestern cities are like that.

http://i1287.photobucket.com/albums/...ps9a9d8a9a.jpg

RPK79 06-19-14 03:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16865719)
But in a lot of areas you don't have much choice.

This isn't North Korea.

Roody 06-19-14 03:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RPK79 (Post 16865762)
This isn't North Korea.

I was thinking of places like Las Vegas, where it seems like almost the entire metro area is sprawled out. It might be hard to find a house in a walkable or bikeable location there. I haven't been there in 30 years, so I'm not sure.

RPK79 06-19-14 03:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16865776)
I was thinking of places like Las Vegas, where it seems like almost the entire metro area is sprawled out. It might be hard to find a house in a walkable or bikeable location there. I haven't been there in 30 years, so I'm not sure.

I wasn't aware that people are required to live in Las Vegas.

Roody 06-19-14 03:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RPK79 (Post 16865786)
I wasn't aware that people are required to live in Las Vegas.

Ok you win.

RPK79 06-19-14 03:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16865818)
Ok you win.

http://i.imgur.com/hae4bQi.png

Edit, I like this one more:

http://www.geekbinge.com/wp-content/...-Bad-I-won.jpg

rockmom 06-19-14 04:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by no1mad (Post 16863822)
Got an SO and/or any dependents? If so, how did the move affect them?

I've got two kids and a husband. We've moved a few times, but always in the city, never the suburbs. In our case, no car means being able to afford a house in the city and all the cultural advantages of city living. Any savings on housing would be eaten up by transportation costs in the suburbs and we would likely miss out on the all the downtown fun.

daihard 06-19-14 04:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RPK79 (Post 16864500)
I'm not getting defensive. I don't understand what your issue is... You show pictures of suburbs but say suburbs aren't the problem. You give a definition of sprawl as a decentralization of urban centers (ie: a move to suburbs), but you say suburbs aren't the problem. You keep saying your not "attacking" suburbs, but at the same time you are asking how do we stop people from moving into and building more suburbs. The problem is people don't want to live in the dense cities anymore now that they don't need to live there in order to survive, and since this is such a land wealthy nation there is no lack of places to build.

My issue with the urban sprawl in the U.S. is mostly how it is built around cars. Public transit tends to be (though not always is) mediocre, and the business / shopping areas are usually located far from train stations or transit centers. That's awfully inconvenient for transit riders, who often have to transfer once at the hub instead of going directly to their destination.

Suburbs around Tokyo are vastly different. Business and commercial developments are done around the hub train station, and they usually provide local bus services to and from the central area. That enables the suburban resident to take one bus to the shopping area. If they want to go further, the train station is right there.

I agree with @Roody on the issue of suburbs vs sprawls. I don't mind living in the suburb as long as it provides easy access to public transit, has lots of businesses and shopping areas in close and convenient proximity, and enables me to live without driving much. Unfortunately, there's no suburb like that where I live.

daihard 06-19-14 04:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rockmom (Post 16865857)
I've got two kids and a husband. We've moved a few times, but always in the city, never the suburbs. In our case, no car means being able to afford a house in the city and all the cultural advantages of city living. Any savings on housing would be eaten up by transportation costs in the suburbs and we would likely miss out on the all the downtown fun.

Good point. One of the reasons we moved to the city was that we wanted to be close to the dynamic living of the city centre. :)

Machka 06-19-14 04:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by daihard (Post 16864928)
It would be nice if you guys could live right in between. That would give each of you 20 km to commute, which IMO is relatively easy cycling distance. :)

Not so much in this terrain. 20 km in this terrain takes me 1.5 to 2 hours to cover by bicycle ... that's a long commute.

daihard 06-19-14 04:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Machka (Post 16865919)
Not so much in this terrain. 20 km in this terrain takes me 1.5 to 2 hours to cover by bicycle ... that's a long commute.

I see. I was assuming the terrain was relatively flat. Too much stereotype about your country...

Machka 06-19-14 05:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by daihard (Post 16865942)
I see. I was assuming the terrain was relatively flat. Too much stereotype about your country...

Yes, that is a common stereotype about Australia, but actually, where most people live (around the edges) it is quite hilly/mountainous. We used to live just north of Melbourne, on the edge of the Great Dividing Range, in a valley between two popular ski mountains. There, we had the option of following the relatively flat valley floor or heading up into the hills and mountains. And Tasmania, where we live now, is very hilly/mountainous. See the photos I posted in the Where We Live thread.
http://www.bikeforums.net/living-car...o-we-live.html

And also see the photos in this collection, especially the Autumn 2014 and Winter 2014 albums:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/machka...7644517168953/


We are considering suburbs anywhere from about 2 km from the city centre (so I could walk, and Rowan would have a shorter drive than what he has right now) to about halfway between the two places (as you suggest).

Unfortunately places in the suburbs close to the CBD are expensive and don't come available very often. And if we end up in a place about halfway in between, my commute would be up and over a bit of a mountain range ... the shoulder of Mt Wellington ... so I would not cycle. We would also have to consider the frequency, time, and cost of the busses before we make a decision to live that far out from the CBD.


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