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6387Re: Do rail lines encourage sprawl?

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  • Mike Neuman
    Oct 28, 2003
      --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "John O. Andersen"
      <editor@u...> wrote:
      > The rail lines encouraged development around the rail stations.
      That's what we call smart growth today. The development was compact
      enough for people to live within walking distance of the train
      > That's a huge difference from car based sprawl.

      The problem today is that the suburban communities and sprawling
      areas of development around most larger cities are simply not well
      suited for rail development. The areas are already put together
      assuming auto use will continue as the only method of travel. Those
      areas are urban sprawl in my book.

      I suspect if communter rail goes into an undeveloped area today, the
      way things are now anyway, that the future residents would demand
      parking lots in the vicinity of the boarding stations, and highways
      to drive on to get to the stations. So if only the accomodations for
      auto use are provided, that will encourage sprawl development for
      miles and miles around the stations, to be sure.

      It might even encourage more sprawl than had the commuter trains not
      been provided, since living out there would be made more convenient.
      People would not have to put up with driving in the thick of
      congestion every morning and late afternoon.

      It might reduce the auto congestion traveling into and out of the
      metro area -- but people would still be driving lots of miles from
      their newly developed sprawling enclaves to the train stations.
      Consequently, the problems of urban sprawl and auto emissions would
      remain and perhaps even increase with the commuter rail.

      But if the governmental entities in the area where the rail line is
      going in allow only natural (non-motorized) transport to the
      stations, then the commuter rail would not be sprawl-inducing.
      People would have to build closer to the rail stations -- not way out
      in Sprawlsville, USA.

      So my definition of sprawl is development which requires
      motorized travel on a regular basis by those who live there. It's
      based on miles of motorized travel required per week. Consequently,
      areas that accomodate only motorized travel are, by
      definition, "urban sprawl" in my book. Areas that are developed
      primarily for non-motorized (natural?) travel (tighter development),
      are the traditional, non-sprawl encouraging types of development.
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