Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sprawl Spreads in Switzerland

It's not just here. And it's not just auto dependent. But it's just as expensive.
"In 1935, city limits were clearly identifiable," wrote the Science Foundation. This is no longer the case, and many urban areas snake into valleys and along transit routes.
I also imagine a 20 year moratorium on growth would not go over so well here. Though I think here it's called a growth boundary.
Researchers are proposing benchmarks to limit urban sprawl. In August 2008, a coalition of environmental organisations submitted more than 110,000 signatures to the government in support of a 20-year moratorium on new growth.


Matt Fisher said...

WTF? I've seen Cox and O'Toole suggest sprawl is not limited to America, and apparently, I think they're saying we shouldn't single out America.

And I knew that they use direct democracy a lot in Switzerland.

Alon Levy said...

This will only work if accompanied by zoning for higher density. In most of Europe, taller buildings are as unpopular as suburban sprawl, leading to city centers not much denser than those in the non-Sunbelt parts of the US. The only way for Switzerland to successfully limit sprawl is to not just have a moratorium on expanding urban boundaries, but also build taller, more closely spaced buildings in existing cities.

Morgan Wick said...

"taller buildings are as unpopular as suburban sprawl"

Someone just needs to tell Europeans in general "you can choose between taller buildings, sprawl, or having nowhere to live. Only in utopiaville can you shun all three."

Cap'n Transit said...

Sure, as Alon says, if they don't want to sprawl as much they should build more tall buildings.

That said, this Swiss "urban sprawl" is nowhere near as bad as the suburban sprawl we have in the US. All these places are easily reachable by tram, right? Let's keep some perspective. Okay, yes, they're losing some nature, and they have to spend more on infrastructure. But smart-growth advocates in any American city would love to have this kind of "urban sprawl." Where exactly do they think they can put these people, anyway?

Alon Levy said...

Yes, these suburbs are denser than those in the US, and yes, they're less auto-dependent, so they generate less emissions. But they're still not that different from New York in the sense that suburban car ownership is fairly high, and discretionary trips are mostly by car.

When you compare that situation to Seoul (city density 17,000/km^2, total urban density 10,000) or Hong Kong (urban density 32,000, no suburbs), it looks pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

In Canada we have sprawl too.

Alon said...

Yes, you do, and every time someone suggests an alternative, the business community revolts.