Urban Sprawl and How to Prevent It

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Urban sprawl is the effect of the suburbs—houses that are further apart than in the city, grocery stores that are too far away to walk to, better school districts, better roads than in the country. Urban sprawl has been increasing since soon after World War II, when cities were booming and automobiles became a main source of transportation. There are pros and cons to urban sprawl. One of the cons is the possible affect on air quality because of the necessity of driving in the suburbs. Nothing is close enough to walk to, so people drive to work, to the grocery store, to pick up the kids from school, etc. In the middle of a city, the grocery store is probably easy to walk to than drive to and public transportation is readily available and cuts down on automobile use. The cost of providing transportation goes up when the population goes down. This makes the possibility of creating good public transportation in small towns very low. I grew up in Champaign, a town of about 120,000, which has a great public transportation (bus) system. Eureka, Illinois, is small enough to walk around in, but few people walk because they all own cars. A city that is a suburb has even more problems, because it is often a bedroom community with no grocery stores, etc, so it is necessary to drive everywhere. One solution to these problems that the website suggests is a Personal Rapid Transportation system (PRT). PRT offers individual pod cars which are automatically driven on a gridline in a city and its suburbs. PRT is unique because it offers privacy (individual cars for a few people) and goes to the destination that the passenger picks instead of sticking to a schedule. PRT could be used to transport goods and people. Because PRT pods are light, the gridlines could be small and take up less space, and would therefore be cheaper. PRT would decrease air pollution, in part because of decreased starting and stopping time and the possibility of using electric or solar power. PRT is currently only in two cities: Morgantown, West Virginia and London Heathrow Airport.

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