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Thread: Smart growth model for the United States

  1. #1
    Nov 2007
    Salt Lake City

    Smart growth model for the United States


    Urban planners and developers could learn a lot from Munich, Germany. This metropolis of 2 million offers one of the best examples of how to create a vibrant city full of pedestrians, street musicians and street shops. All this with a complete absence of suburban sprawl. How do they do it? See the complete story and film at the following link:


    Why is the United States so far behind Germany and many other European Countries when it comes to designing cities for pedestrians first? This seems like a no-brainer to me but it is obviously so neglected in cities like Salt Lake City

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    Last edited by Gedunker; 25 Nov 2007 at 9:37 PM.

  2. #2
    Dec 2006
    Why is the United States so far behind Germany and many other European Countries when it comes to designing cities for pedestrians first? This seems like a no-brainer to me but it is obviously so neglected in cities like Salt Lake City

    There are plenty of communities within the United States that were designed for the pedestrian. If Europe had as much space as America, they, too, would probably sprawl outward. Human beings, like other species, can be very territorial, and want their own private space. Some people are more easily sold on living with less land or without a car based on the benefits that this lifestyle affords (more open space, walkable communities, more energy-efficient homes, etc.). However, when there is less land, people have fewer options.

  3. #3

    Smart Growth Model for the US

    Land use and urban form in Germany has, overall, been guided by the costs of personnal transportation, including fuel, parking, road use taxes, and the cost of cars. Other factors have included the need to re-infrastructure almost everything since 1946, less land and more people and a national ethic which holds organization and logic as part of the natural order of things. This is not to say they don't love to drive (what kind of cars do they make in Stuttgart?). Compare, for instance, the experience of making a flight at Rhein-Main with that of LAX.

    The same is true of England and most other country on that side of the big water. We married ourselves to the auto early in its inception and are VERY reluctant to step onto the curb and walk. We can change this by the way we raise our families. Most of my staff can and sometimes do walk to work. None of my 30+ yr old children own a car, preferring to self-propel or use public transit. We will only have public transit if we demonstrate a willingness to use it.

    In the UK and Europe, even the smallest village is well-served by regular coach service. Not needing a car (or at least not the newest and best available) immediately alters the disposable income picture. It also causes their citizens to seek housing close to work, shopping and schools. My next door neighbor in west Suffolk, for instance, bicycled to work where he earned less than 10K pounds per year. He and his wife were still able to take holidays in Spain each year.

    Sorry to preach so, but it comes with advancing age I suppose. I don't need to tell you how hard it is to convince people that they can breath outside their cars. As a profession we've been fighting that battle for 40 years, at least and haven't made a dent in the problem yet in most areas of the country.

    At any rate, the answer to your question lies in the people themselves. They didn't need convincing.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Mar 2005
    London, UK
    The two posts above both contain some valid points.

    Generally, planning has been "tighter" and "stricter" on sprawl in Europe both due to the relative scarcity of land and due to a more conservative outlook on development in general.

    Consider, though, also the fact that Bavaria has an aging population (dunno if shrinking, but certainly not growing quickly) so a comparison to some Sunbelt state with relatively rapid population growth is not entirely appropriate.

  5. #5
    Jan 2008
    Quote Originally posted by navpat1 View post
    Sorry to preach so
    Good contribution. Not so preachy. Besides, you've done it to the chior...

    I'm not sure that eschewing use of a personal car is so much an issue of personal choice now. In quite a few of the suburbs of Chicago, for example, it's explicitly impossible to live without automotive capabilities.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
    Jan 2008
    Tallahassee, FL
    Been to Hungary five times since 1990. The first three times I spent two weeks each in Szeged and traveled out from the city on the trains for day trips with a few auto trips thrown in.

    I knew that town in Europe were "dense". However, I discovered that there is "dense" and crowded. There are a couple of housing developments on the edge of Szeged With 10 floor apartment buildings. Every building is at least 200 feet fron the next. all are connected to the core with either a tram or trolleybus line. Near the core most buildings are 3-4 floors. often commercial on the ground floor and residential above.

    There are many single family neighyborhoods however. There the houses typically are built abuting the sidewalk and on one side lot line. This gives a much more useable yard than is typical in the US with a 20' front yard and narrow side yards.

    What keeps the city from crowded? Minimal large parking lots, well mixed uses, sidewalks and street trees everywhere and public squares/parks every few blocks. To do this you have to have good transit.

    Many Hungarians (and I expect much the same across Europe) have a care available to the family, but few families have more than one. And they often use the auto only a couple of times a week. My friends have a 15 year old Opel that has only 50,000 miles on it.

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