Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sprawl and Regeneration in Budapest

Sprawl is not limited to the United States. In fact my favorite transit city is under attack from all flanks. Budapest is feeling the horrors of eurosprawl and like everywhere else, it comes with a cost.

"We've exchanged [Victorian-era] London-type smog for Los Angles-type smog," laments Janos Zlinszky of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe. "The nature of our environmental problems is shifting."

Across east-central Europe, a region once blighted by Communist-era pollution, economic development is bringing on a new set of environmental problems and, in some cases, bringing back old ones.

The main culprit? American style suburbs. Never would have guessed.
Budapest's worsening air pollution is due in large part to the advent of American-style suburban housing developments and shopping centers, according to Andras Lukacs, president of the Clean Air Action Group. "Several hundred thousand people have moved out of central Budapest and gone to these new so-called residential parks in what used to be green areas," he says. "Each day they come back to their jobs here, but because public transportation isn't so good out there, they take their cars."
But public transit is awesome in the city. They are building two new subway lines in addition to the three they have already. During communism, the transit share was 80% but that system came with a heavy price including an underinvestment in all infrastructure. Many buildings are falling apart and have to have some really hefty scaffolding. Here is a photo I took of the big box sprawl. It was noticeable on the train so I took a shot. The photo below the sprawl is some building scaffolding that keeps building pieces from falling while they are repairing it.



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