Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 10:48:23 AM EST
Jack Smith is a regular columnist for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, a newspaper in Texas. His column contrasts "Old American" urban design; eg. bigger cars, more freeways, and longer commutes with newer ideas. Except that what's new in America is already commonplace in Europe.
First, he quotes from Rep. Joe Barton, a defender of the old ways, and the chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. Barton said that he represents the US at international conferences and gets lectured by other countries about global warming:
They don't understand the lifestyle where you live in Arlington and drive to Dallas to work.
. . .
I don't think they (the Europeans) really understand the concept of personal freedom. They think everybody ought to live in an eight-story walkup with no air conditioning and ride bicycles everywhere.
That's not Texas. And I'm not apologetic about that.
In contrast, the columnist praised European cities for their mixed use developments, excellent public transit systems and short commutes. He pointed out that this type of design is gaining popularity in the US, even in Texas.
Developers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area are now planning urban mixed-use, transit-oriented developments that increasingly resemble development patterns in European cities. Even Plano, once considered purely suburban and auto-reliant, has embraced light-rail transit and accompanying mixed-use development.
. . .
Those are increasingly appealing development trends in North Texas, which is choking from gridlock and pollution as a result of a spiraling population, heavy reliance on the automobile and voluminous urban sprawl.
. . .
Some North Texans are suddenly finding that living in far-flung suburbs can be a downer if it means paying $2.55 a gallon for gas for their fuel-hog SUV for a 90-minute round-trip commute that robs them of time to exercise or enjoy their children.
In the USA, this movement favoring integrated urban design is known as
It has ten principles, which I'll briefly list below. You can obviously find out more at their website.
- Mixed-Use and Diversity
- Mixed Housing
- Quality Architecture
- Traditional Neighborhood Structure
- Increased Density
- Smart Transportation
- Quality of Life
While these ideas may be new in Texas, they have been popular in California for about ten years now. New Urbanism neighborhoods are especially sucessful when they are built near rapid transit. And surprisingly, they are very popular among families with children.