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[14 Mar 2014 | No Comment | ]
Ohio and the Fate of the “Big Eight”

The 2010 Census produced mixed results for America’s “legacy cities,” that is deindustrialized cities located primarily, but not exclusively, in the Midwest and in the Mid-Atlantic states. While east coast cities like Newark and Philadelphia actually posted population gains, Midwestern Rust Belt cities generally continued their long slide down in terms of population growth. This proved especially true in the state of Ohio, formerly a key manufacturing hub and once arguably the heartland of Industrial North America. For not only have Ohio’s major cities continued to shrink, their population loss …

Book Review, Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Green Jobs, Public Transportation, Sprawl, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[18 Feb 2014 | No Comment | ]
“Bikenomics” – An Instant Classic for Planners and Bicycling Advocates

Certain books become a classic in their field of study because of their comprehensive nature (i.e. The City in History). Others do from their advocacy and groundbreaking nature (i.e. Silent Spring).  In the case of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy, both of these reasons apply. Author Elly Blue has written “the” definitive book on bicycle planning that clearly identifies the societal, physical, environmental, and economic benefits of bicycling, while also completely debunking the myths, fables, urban legends, half-truths, and outright lies spread by naysayers and automotive apologists.
Facts are funny things. They tend …

Architecture, Art, Brain Drain, Economic Development, Editorial, Education, Featured, Good Ideas, Green Jobs, Public Transportation, Sprawl, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[29 Oct 2013 | No Comment | ]
Ten Lessons from Boulder, Colorado

 
I had the great pleasure of visiting Boulder, Colorado for the first time over an extended weekend. As an urban planner, I was able to take away many useful lessons for Rust Belt communities from the lovely city abutting the Front Range. Granted, not every place can be set aside majestic mountains, but every community does have unique attributes.
Here are what I would quantify as the top ten. Many of these are remarkably similar to the ten lessons from European industrial cities published earlier this month.

Cherish, protect, enhance, and enjoy …

Architecture, Crime, Economic Development, Featured, Great Lakes, Politics, Public Transportation, Race Relations, Real Estate, Sports, Sprawl, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning, Urban Poverty »

[5 Aug 2013 | No Comment | ]
Shared Responsibility for Detroit’s Woes

As a Michigander for the past 21 years, I’ve heard my share of Detroit criticisms, jokes, and put downs, both from within and outside the Great Lakes State. While fingers can be  pointed at the lack of past civic and political leadership in Detroit, our collective actions (or lack thereof) can certainly share in the responsibility. Some may scoff at such a notion, but here’re a few reasons why:

As a nation we elected leaders who adopted a tax code and laws that advocated, promoted, and accelerated flight from cities and …

Sprawl »

[26 Jul 2013 | One Comment | ]

I wrote a story this week at Streetsblog attributing Detroit’s bankruptcy to sprawl. Someone left this comment that I thought was really brilliant. It’s about no-growth sprawl, like we see in Detroit and Cleveland and Youngstown and Buffalo–really any rust belt metro.
Check it out:
I call this type of sprawl, in which the wealthiest keep moving further out in search of something newer and better, the “clean plate” theory of urban development, after this exchange in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “‘I want a clean cup,’ interrupted the Hatter: …

Book Review, Featured, Public Transportation, Sprawl »

[20 Dec 2012 | No Comment | ]
Walkable City Author Jeff Speck on the One Thing that Can Wreck a City

What makes a city great? According to Jeff Speck, the secret sauce is, quite simply, walking. If your city is a good place to walk — that is, walking is safe, comfortable, interesting, and useful — everything else will fall into place.

In Walkable City, his talked-about manifesto about healthy urban places, Speck lays out a simple formula for any city to become a pedestrian haven. “Putting cars in their place,” “mixing uses,” “getting parking right,” and supporting transit and cycling are a few of the 10 principles, he says, that separate the successful cities from the rest.

Architecture, Economic Development, Headline, Public Transportation, Sprawl, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[14 Sep 2012 | No Comment | ]
Hospitals: To Sprawl Or Not To Sprawl

The last few times I have visited my home state of Indiana, I have noticed a number of new hospitals recently opened or being constructed along the I-69 corridor in the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne regions. Along I-69 north of I-465 in Indianapolis, it seems like new hospitals are rising from the cornfields at each interchange. IU Saxony Hospital, Community Hospital, and St. Vincent Hospital have all recently migrated to this corridor between Indianapolis and Anderson. The map below does not even include the pre-existing Riverview Hospital in Noblesville (just above the top of the map) or the two existing hospitals in Anderson (Community and Saint John’s) located about 10 miles to the east.

Headline, Politics, Sprawl »

[4 Jun 2012 | No Comment | ]
Will Greater Cleveland Squander $5 Million for Sustainability Planning?

The Obama Administration’s Sustainable Communities Initiative was tailor made for communities like greater Cleveland. Northeast Ohio has been sprawling for decades without adding any population, emptying out the notoriously troubled central city while the regional economy consistently under-performs.

During the last decade the city of Cleveland lost 17 percent of its population. Inner-ring suburbs didn’t fare much better, shedding five to eight percent. Meanwhile, exurban Avon — a tax haven built on cleared forests and farmland 25 miles distant from the center city — grew 85 percent. Northeast Ohio had never undertaken a formal regional planning effort to address the rapid abandonment of its urban areas for unplanned, exurban development.

Brain Drain, Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Green Jobs, Politics, Public Transportation, Sprawl, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[24 May 2012 | No Comment | ]
Is the Rust Belt Starting to “Get It” on Bicycling?

At the conclusion of this post is a list of Rust Belt metropolitan areas where clusters of bicycle-friendly organizations (communities, colleges, and businesses) have agglomerated. The numbers are based on those organizations which have been recognized as “bicycle-friendly” by the League of American Bicyclists. These clusters are important for several reasons:

The data shows that more places are “getting it,” not just “progressive” enclaves.
They show that coordinated efforts are taking place in a variety of metropolitan areas, and broadly within each metropolitan area, not just in lone islands of bike friendliness.
They …

Economic Development, Featured, Sprawl, Urban Planning »

[13 Apr 2012 | No Comment | ]
Renaissance or Ruination?

This post originally appeared in Reader Area Development. It speaks to the evolution and eventual de-evolution of place in a commercial area of suburban Peoria, Illinois.