Searching for the Antidote to Sprawl

A new web video series called American Makeover aims to find "the antidote to suburban sprawl." The first episode, now online, looks at Atlanta.

From the press release:

"Dr. Chris Elisara, producer of the series, notes that while the ill-effects of sprawl have been well-chronicled in recent books and documentaries, there has been little in the way of proposed alternatives. "We're hoping to remind audiences of the harms of sprawl, but really focus on the solution, which comes down to how we build, restore and retrofit our cities and neighborhoods. And we intend to tackle these tough issues with a good dose of our trademark humor, because that is ultimately how to reach people with new insights.""

The pilot episode includes a profile of a New Urbanist neighborhood in Atlanta called Glenwood Park.




Glenwood Park has some

Glenwood Park has some beautiful architecture and I love the compact, walkable nature of it. But I honestly don't believe it's worthy of being held up as a real antidote to car-centric sprawl in Atlanta.

The reasons: the prices are too high for it to be affordable to anyone but the affluent; it's nowhere near a MARTA train station (and the affluent residents are probably not bus riders); it's not in walking distance to a grocery store; the roads surrounding Glenwood Park don't have bike lanes.

This development is an example of drive-to urbanism. Instead of a transit station, the nearest transportation hub is the entrance (very nearby) to Interstate 20. This interstate borders Glenwood Park on the north and provides access for residents to get to downtown Atlanta and ends up making this simply a more compact form of car-centric suburbanism, located far away from the urban core's business centers and lacking any good connection to them by alternative transportation.

It's a small move in the right direction but not bold enough to be a prime example of what can be done to counter car-centric sprawl.

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