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foxboyprower

Musing about planning and urban sprawl

Efficiency is important for me. I don't know why, but I'll find more efficient ways to do things in hopes of saving time in the long run. If the sidewalk goes around a corner of a square lawn, I know that cutting across the lawn diagonally is approximately 70% the distance of the sidewalk path. So I'll walk through the grass for a shorter route (assuming the grass is not private property like a lawn). Call it obsessive, but a huge chunk of our lives is spent moving from point A to point B. Sometimes it leads me to wonder why a path was not built across the square in the first point since it was the more efficient path. Aesthetic reasons and difficulty mowing the lawn are the only explanations I have considered.
- On a different scale, why are many roads built the way they are? I've been down many that seemed to be designed to make the trip take twice as long as it should. Some cities are arranged in the most perplexing and illogical way that traveling through or around them is a recipe for disaster.
 This leads me to something bigger to which I have devoted my thoughts. You may have guess that by now I'm thinking about urban sprawl. It's a complicated issue that is difficult to solve and that has only subtle consequences that nobody notices at first. I'll give you an example. The town I grew up in is a suburb of a large city. Most of the town is housing. The city where people work is half an hour away from the town where they live. Couple this with the fact that no mass transportation system exists, you have a situation in which people need to own a car and drive an hour a day. The store people use is fifteen minutes away in another town. This wastes a lot of gas, puts people in dangerous traffic each day, and is costing everyone money to pay for all that traveling.
Aside from the economic inconvenience my hometown has, urban sprawl has consequences that are far more severe. A town in its early stages has people of all kinds of economic status together at first. As nicer homes are built, those who have more money move there, leaving behind those who cannot afford to live in the fancy new part of town. A division is created making poor districts. Businesses want money from the richer people, so they leave the poor district and follow the wealthier people. The poor are left without jobs now so they're just stuck. This social injustice can be avoided by planning expansion better. A well planned city knits a community together rather than tearing it apart.
- Thoughtlessly adding something to a well-planned city can disrupt things. Suppose there is a city with good traffic flow. Traffic moves slowly and safely. A new mall is added to the outside west edge of the city. So many people start going to the new mall, that the west side of the city develops terrible traffic problems. This slows commutes and makes traffic more dangerous. Because the effects are in such an indirect manner, a lot of people won't consider a new mall increasing the risk of car accidents.

- Planning ahead to foresee and prevent future harm (that would be a result of your action) is something that should be more important than growing fast to make money faster. In related news, this journal went in a different direction than I had intended. I'll address the more interesting and fun idea in the next journal. I still suggest looking up urban sprawl. It's a tough problem to fix, but it causes a lot of problems in ways that people don't notice.
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Added: 5 years, 6 months ago
 
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