Friday, July 2, 2010

The Central Idea

I preface my post by stating, Cervero and Ewing are among a small group of researchers that I have followed for years. Joint and separately, these two have conducted extensive research regarding the land use and transportation field. I have many thanks to these two for their outstanding contribution to a field I find so incredibly intriguing.

In 2001, Cervero boldly stated that sprawl is the most expensive form of residential development in terms of cost: economic, environmental, natural resource consumption etc. Sprawling American metropolises suffer to due the lack of spatial clustering. The integration of urban arrangements is not “(the) product… of happenstance, but rather of decades of carefully managed and guided urbanization” (Cervero 2001, 1652).

Over the years, these concepts have been distilled through continued research. In the popular study published in 2002, Ewing et al. examined development trends necessary in attempt to harness sprawl and promote dense land use development. Measuring sprawl proposes a considerable challenge. In the study, 22 factors were used within multiple dimensions to analyze the built environment. Components such as transportation dominance, residential density, neighborhood mixture of development, and strengths of centers, etc. were all factored in the analysis. The analysis has evolved since 2002, like in Kaid Befield’s blog this morning, “Reid Ewing on travel and the built environment” stating the importance of centralized locations. Benfield also references a recent interview with Reid Ewing conduced by Christina Hernandez for SmartPlanet, where Ewing says, “The best way to minimize driving appears to be to develop in existing centers near the core of the metropolitan area, in areas of high destination accessibility where there are a whole lot of jobs nearby. That’s the most important single factor.” Large scale analysis evaluate many land use development and transportation trends. The meta-analysis conducted by Ewing provides feedback to planners, policy-makers and citizens regarding their cities and the ways in which we use them in the hopes to shape development in more sustainable and efficient manner.

Cervero, Robert. 2001. Efficient urbanization: Economic performance and the shape of the metropolis. Urban Studies 38, (10) (09): 1651-71.

Ewing, R., Pendall, R. and Chen, D. 2002. Measuring Sprawl and Its Impact: The Character & Consequences of Metropolitan Expansion. Smart Growth America.