Science Information

How Do Cities Grow?


You see the cities in America started where there was a river and small populations sprung up, then the railroad steam engines needed a place to fill up the water. Eventually the towns got larger and grew near the rail stations. Then as people moved outward and behind the downtown areas they grew without regards to modern day planning methods, making increased surface transportation rather difficult.

Today master planned communities and larger city planners design the outlining areas with ring roads. Yet even with all these modern theories you still get the terms; Spaghetti Bowl, Mixing Bowl, Cluster Muck, by those who have to navigate such areas where major roads all come together. One little fender bender and the entire system breaks down. When cities are built around bodies of water a ring road theory or design fails because ring road concept serves the center, but in the center is only those fish. It will help the Marine Industry, but hurts the flows of civilization.

If you look at large cities near bays, the successful ones with transportation flows have concentric rings around the outside of the lake or bay. The traffic flows in Bay Cities is often ill conceived and causes problems with growth and makes for deplorable traffic conditions. Some cities have meandered traffic flows to make sure that all roads lead to the regional mall, auto mall and of course City Hall, in order to collect revenue from the sales tax as consumers buy products in their city. This was the big push in city strategy between the 1980's and 1990's and for the most part it worked but caused local traffic to go around such roads and thus caused other streets traffic issues, but the cities had the money they needed to build parks and maintain high levels of city services. In the 1990's a new fad started the older cities and even newer projects worked to build a downtown with tilt up prefabs like the project in Columbus, Ohio at the Limited Co. mall. These projects go on today in many cities trying to revitalize downtown and for the cities which work to bring people back to downtown and the flow into those areas which have experienced urban flight to "the burbs" it has come with hard fought eventual success. The Smart Growth debate will continue until far into the future, what is of importance is to not lose sight of the flows, which go into the proper growth. Here is a very relevant article which makes this point quite well;

http://www.tripnet.org/smartgrowth.htm .

Just like the song; The foot bone is connected to the leg bone, the leg bone is collected to the hip bone, the hip bone is connected to the?. In other words all roads are connected in some way to all other roads even if a ferry is in-between. All roads are connected to all bus stations and all railways connect and intersect to all roads. And all airports are connected to one another and to the ground transportation.

Ring roads and proper surface street infrastructures separate the good transportation flows from the bad ones. Some cites have done better than others in this regard, but one only has to look at places like San Francisco and the Bay area to see the problems. If you look at 101 and 280 on the West side of the bay you can see attempts at a solution with connecting highways, but they are far and few between. Even down lower in San Jose the last minute expressways are hard to navigate and were put in too late. East Bay is a complete disaster and you can see why BART was necessary.

There are many good examples of ring roads which have been done correctly for instance Houston, but when you add people so fast, even a well done system can be overloaded. Most of our major cities are now over loaded with cars and the roads are not handling the flow. And we keep making them and buying them, which is our choice as consumers. The problems are that we are not utilizing our transportation systems correctly, We have peak periods where no one can get anywhere and times when the streets are literally empty. Sometimes we find as cities grow improperly to service the region, we have severe cogs in the flow of transportation. Think on this.

"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs


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