Compact Cities

A Solution for a sustainable future? Introduction Although urban city has made great contribution to economic development globally, more and more scholars and urban planners realize its role as a cause of resource depletion and environment degradation (Girded, 1996). In response to global ecological footprints and the extensively acknowledged demand to discover a sustainable urban development model, the idea of “compact city” emerged. Generally, compact city means a city of high density, mixed-use functions, efficient public transportation systems and encouraging liking and cycling (Burton, 2000).

This essay intends to examine if compact city is a good sustainable urban form for future development, by using examples from developing and developed countries to discover the advantages and limitations Of compact cities in terms Of transportation and social equity. Transportation Resource consumption and negative environmental externalities with regards to private household use and transportation are pinpointed as main issues when considering sustainable development in urban areas (Holder and Moorland, 2005).

The “compact city” provides a solution to deal with environment problems caused by prevalence of substantiation of living (especially in Western countries) and increasing use of private cars. Due to relatively high-density housing form and mixed land use, compact city could be highly fruitful in reducing energy consumption, diminishing harmful gas emissions and curtailing travel needs in urban areas. (Nickname and Reinsert, 1996). However, there are also some critics argued that urban compactness would cause traffic congestion, more noise and crime rate (Williams et al. , 2000).

Since in the past many compact city studies were conducted base on experiences from developed countries, the analysis and documentation on developing countries were insufficient (Burgess, 2000). Hence the gap between desirable expectations and reality is still obvious in those areas owing to constraints of various factors from different contexts. Most cities in developed countries were shaped by substantiation. Since dwelling households and jobs dispersed further from city centre to wider outskirts, this development of city decentralization also led to increased use of private cars.

Although transport system is a crucial underpin of compact city Truckee, it also requires policies and government’s support. In many north- western Europe countries, transport policies target at encouraging a transport shift from private cars to public transport, curtailing travel demands as well as reducing environmental externalities (Nickname and Reinsert, 1996). However, as Fake and Nickname (1994) pointed out, there was a growing trend in spatial planning that backed to abolish planning systems, for government intervention was considered to be deficient and less acceptable by society.

Further, because of some economic reasons, there is another inclination to repeal some unnecessary and unjustified privileged regulations so that the efficiency of transport operations could be improved. For example, in many UK cities the public bus companies are own by private sectors, which means the bus network is at the mercy of these companies (Nickname and Reinsert, 1996). This makes great difficulty to compact cities because in compact cities networks must be managed together to ensure it can satisfy residents’ demands and achieve the highest efficiency. In addition, socio-psychological factors can also become a challenge.

Prevalence with the voltmeter of substantiation, private car is not only a vehicle but a symbol of privacy, freedom and personal control (Vale and Micron, 1992). The convenience and pleasure it offered could not be enjoyed in public transportation. Moreover, even if people in developed countries agree with the compact city idea, the individual’s behavior is hard to change. Construction of large-scale infrastructure could be very expensive (such as subways); it may cause deficiency and waste if people’s behaviors are not changed from private cars to public transport.

Despite that, building large- call infrastructure in a limit space may cause community resistance and is not easy to be acceptable by society. Retrieved in 1 995 pointed out that in democratic countries, if the measures contrast significantly with the public attitude, it will not be introduced. All these institutional and socio- psychological barriers in developed countries make it difficult to build compact city in reality. However, things are a little different in developing countries.

Comparing with their developed counterparts, developing countries tend to have higher densities and they are more compact although population growth is decelerating and decentralization is beginning to occur. The high densities result in obvious impacts in terms of choice of transport media. The strong relationship between the growth motor vehicle ownership and the growth of per capita income is discovered (Daryl and Gayety, 1997). Moreover, there is another documentation saying that vehicle ownership is positively related to population density (Ingram and Lie, 1999).

These could be reasons for the increasing rate of private cars’ ownership in some developing countries. Despite that, public transport still remains its important ole in urban commuting. However, due to exceeded high density, public transportation’s capacity usually could not meet the residents’ demands. Some critics argue that compactness is useless to sustainable development because many cities in developing countries suffered with severe traffic congestion.

However, these negative effects are more of by-products of intrinsic factors of developing countries such as street design, which shows minimal land use allocation for roads before automobile becomes prevalent, resource insufficiency that constrict investment in public transportation infrastructure and exceeded high density’ that requires more public transportation modes to reduce use Of private cars, and further, traffic congestion (Jinks and Burgess, 2000). However, developing countries may face less pressure and challenges in institutional fields.

For example, in China, government can strongly intervene in public affairs, which means transport policies could be strictly carried out (Chem. et al. , 2008). Not only bus networks, but also other public transportation modes could be well managed in order to meet the target of compact city. In general, challenges in developing country ties could be seen as lack of resource and investment, extremely high density and also include growing sense of privacy and freedom. Social Equity Social equity or social justice (these ;o terms could be used interchangeably) is a significant element when considering urban sustainable development.

As Elgin et al. (1991) demonstrated that sustainable development was more than just environmental conservation, but contained the need for both intra- generational equity, which takes need of “the least advantaged in society’ into account and inter-generation equity that protect “fair treatment of future enervation”. Of all the debates towards compact city, the most ambiguous one is the statement that compact city could promote social equity. This may because that social equity is hard to measure and define.

However, some researches based on the notion of distributive equity (I. E. Fairness in the apportionment of resources in society) (Scranton, 1 982) use different indicators to examine the validity of compact city in promoting social equity. Although still under disputes, generally the findings to some extent claim that urban compactness support access to amenities, public transport use, and rower levels of social segregation whereas it will harm access to green space, domestic living space and affordable housing (Burton, 2000).

Because of high density, there are likely to be enormous facilities within a city. That in turn benefits inhabitants especially for low-income households, since they can achieve a closer proximity to amenities and totally cost of using infrastructure will reduce. Furthermore, Godchild (1994, cited in Burton, 2001) demonstrates the finding that public transport works better in a compact city because a great amount of residents tend to live in the place near the stopping-point.

However, this may be questionable in some developing countries because facing relatively high density, inadequate public transport infrastructure may lead to other problems such as congestion, which conversely diminish public transport efficiency. The evidence that social segregation increases due to decentralization supports the argument that because communities becomes more mixed, low-income residents tends to experience less disadvantages of being spatially segregated (Burton, 2000). On the contrary, access to green space and domestic living space could be damaged as a result of urban compactness.

Brethren (1992) argued that In compact cities, open spaces such as parks are likely to be used for other mixed-functions and development. Another scholar compared European and Australian cities as examples: while Europeans have to leave a longer distance from home to reach recreations, Australian residents have easier access to green space (Stratton, 1994, cited in Burton, 2000). Similar, domestic living space will greatly diminished. In addition, as a result of compactness, land will absolutely become scarce and it is expected that housing could become unaffordable for low-income groups.

This may aggravate social inequity. Conclusion It is apparent from the discussions that the concept of compact city has its own strengths and limitations when considering implications in different contexts and different aspects of sustainable development. In terms of public transportation, different countries may face disparate challenges and outcomes. Additionally, compact cities have both positive and negative influences when considering social equity. Due to limited space of this article, only preliminary analysis is given.

However, compact city is a contentious topic and still remains further discussion with respect to other aspects such s its relationship with urban sprawl, environment and economic issues. Better understandings and solutions to the problems arise in compact cities based on different context may allow real improvements for current cities and further, help make compact city a effective sustainable urban form for the future.