Reading Response: Urbanization and Sprawl
Urbanization led to numerous consequences and it is difficult to decide whether they are negative or positive. From one side, it led to the growth of economy and people’s welfare. From other side, it resulted in centralization of life in one place. Sprawl is of the major problems big cities have to cope with.
In this article the problem of absence of physical space between people in big towns is discussed. There are four main reasons that make cities convenient for living: it is easier to transport goods, to get from one place to another, because the distance is not long and mostly everyone has a car. Modern cities smother in vehicles and this phenomenon is called sprawl. The author of the article states that sprawl is ubiquitous and that it is still continuing to grow. It is possible to say that this situation is the result of governmental mistake and bad urban planning. However, the writer thinks that it is just a natural result of contemporary technological civilization and urban style of life.
From economical point of view, the problem of sprawl is the sign of serious improvement in the quality of living. Though, there is a negative side in this situation as well. It is true that the number of people who drive nowadays in actively increasing, but the number of those who are not able to afford their own cars is still big. This economical heterogeneity leads to problems in the society and aggravates the gap between different economical classes.
There are certain problems connected with a big number of cars in the streets. Brueckner highlights several negative issues that are characteristic to sprawls. Firs of all, a big number of cars lead to serious traffic problems like traffic congestion. Second, sprawls cause environmental problems by polluting the atmosphere (Glaeser). Though, the situation has its positive aspects and they mentioned in the article. For example, it gives car owners a possibility to buy a bigger and cheaper house in the suburb and drive to the office every day. There are no traffic problems out of the cities, so it is possible to drive long distances quickly. The author of the article notes that the problem of sprawls can be partly solved by implementing of zoning laws. For example, making the city centre closed for the cars can make the problem less urgent.
I have certain experience connected with the first negative issue proposed by Brueckner. I am from Beijing, China. China is developing very quickly in the recent years, and it is evident in the big cities like Beijing. The traffic congestion in the town is unbelievable; it is possible to stuck in a traffic hold-up for hours. Many people say that Boston has many problems with traffic, but comparing to Beijing, the situation is much better.
Active urban growth has taken the form of sprawl. People live in the high density; earn more money to buy cars and prefer driving to walking, which leads to traffic problems and increase of economical gap between different classes. Nowadays it is necessary to control the situation connected with traffic, because the problem of sprawls is actively growing.
Glaeser, Edward L. and Kahn, Matthew E. “Sprawl and Urban Growth”. Web. 18 October 2013.