Re: [carfree_cities] Do rail lines encourage sprawl?
"sprawl" is not just the expanse of urban fabric. It also pertains to the
characteristics of the way an urban area spreads out. Streetcar lines did
initiate urban withdrawal of the monied class and the first true
"commuters" who were not merely people with a profound proclivity for
walking and a good path/road from home to workplace. Most of these
commuters, were, as many noted- well-to-do.
Streetcar suburbs, while placing distance between themselves and center
cities, were not far-flung developments. Residences and eventually,
businesses, were located close to major stations along these lines,
usually within a short walk.
Some would argue with my definition, but I think most here would agree
that sprawl and urban dispersal are quite different things. Sprawl is
typified by low-density, single-use, non-human scaled development that
occurred largely after World War II in American and later elsewhere.
Sprawl development caters to the idea that humans move primarily within
personal motorized vehicles, and not on their own power (bike, walk).
Moving throughout the urban sprawl landscape without a car is quite
difficult, and in many cases, impossible.
Streetcar suburbs, by contrast, were built to complement the streetcar-
meaning that facilities for walking were available, the extent of the
"suburb" was relatively small so that all inhabitants could easily walk to
the streetcar. As these streetcar suburbs developed, they were also
likely to contain a mix of uses (commerical and residential) that made
many trips remain viable using non-motorized modes, even after the death
of the streetcar systems.
To see an interesting website of such a remnant streetcar suburb (where I
used to live), please visit the following website and click on the
"History" and "Stroll" links.