Comprehensive Sprawl Study Ranks Metros

Comprehensive Sprawl Study Ranks Metros

Smart Growth America

Metropolitan areas that sprawl more have higher traffic fatality rates, more traffic, and poorer air quality than less sprawling areas, according to a landmark study released today. The report, "Measuring Sprawl and Its Impact," is based on a three-year research project conducted by professors at Rutgers and Cornell universities.

Unlike previous studies, which attempted to evaluate sprawl based on one or two statistics such as density, Measuring Sprawl uses 22 variables to rate metro areas on four different aspects of their development. The "scores" for each factor indicate how badly those regions have sprawled in terms of spreading out housing and population; segregating homes from the activities of daily life; lacking the focus of strong economic and social centers; and building poorly connected street networks.

This comprehensive and academically rigorous study truly breaks new ground by going a step beyond the index to demonstrate how sprawl development patterns affect the way people live.

"For the first time we are able to define sprawl objectively so can see how it measures up," said Don Chen, Executive Director of Smart Growth America. "What this study tells us is that sprawl has a direct and negative impact on our everyday lives."

Among the report's findings:

-- More Driving. The daily distance driven per person is more than ten miles more in the most sprawling places than in the least sprawling, adding up to 40 more miles of automobile travel each day for a family of four.

--- More Traffic Deaths. The ten most sprawling places average 36 traffic deaths for every 100,000 people, while the least sprawling average 23 deaths per 100,000.

-- More Air Pollution. Ozone pollution levels are as much as 41 parts per billion higher in the most sprawling areas, which can mean the difference between safe, "code green" air quality and "code red" air quality.

The full report, metropolitan area fact sheets, and a peer-reviewed research paper are all available on Smart Growth America's website at For more information, call David Goldberg at (202) 412-7930 or John Bailey at (202) 974-5157.

Related Link:

For more information contact:

David Goldberg
Smart Growth America
1100 17th Street NW, 10th Floor
DC 20036

Phone: 202-412-7930
Email: [email protected]

Posted October 17, 2002

Planetizen Courses logo

Planetizen Courses: Online Training in Urban Planning

Access more than 250 urban planning courses on your computer, phone, or tablet. Learn today, plan for tomorrow.

View Courses

Edmonton, Canada

Planetizen AICP Exam Prep Class logo

Planetizen AICP* Exam Prep Class

90% of students who took our class passed the exam and became AICP* certified.

View Class

image of laptop and class instructor Jeff Levine