Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Europeans make the same mistake as Americans

A few months ago, I discussed Robert Bruegmann's book on sprawl in a post or two (a more extensive review is coming out in the Harvard Blackletter Journal; however, a draft is available on my Bepress site. )  One of his factual arguments was that sprawl is inevitable because it happens in Europe as well, despite European nations' anti-sprawl policies.

A recent New York Times article debunks this argument, by showing that at least some European nations have adopted the same kind of pro-sprawl policies that American governments have adopted.  The article points out that in Europe:

6,200 miles of motorways were built from 1990 to 2003 and, with the European Union’s enlargement, 7,500 more are planned. Government enthusiasm for spending on public transportation, which is costly and takes years to build, generally lags far behind. 

And a result, more people move to places served by roads but not public transit, thus increasing car use, etc.

Has sprawl reduced congestion or pollution?  Apparently not; the article states:

The 23 percent growth in vehicular emissions in Europe since 1990 has “offset” the effect of cleaner factories, according to a recent report by the European Environment Agency. The growth has occurred despite the invention of far more environmentally friendly fuels and cars.

Mike Lewyn

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