Discuss the Impact of the Automobile’s Rise on Urban Form During the Twentieth Century and Critically Evaluate Planning Measures Used to Limit the Negative Social and Environmental Aspects

1691 Words Jun 8th, 2016 7 Pages
Discuss the impact of the automobile’s rise on urban form during the twentieth century and critically evaluate planning measures used to limit the negative social and environmental aspects Since the rise of the automobile, there have been many dramatic changes to urban form in attempts to accommodate this new mode of transport. Focusing on America and Britain, this discussion considers influences on all scales ranging from reclassification of physical roads to the decentralization of urban cores. The rising social and environmental concerns caused by the increase in vehicle usage include pedestrian safety, residential livability, and environmental deterioration. I have decided to explore this question by …show more content…
Lippincott suggested the widening of existing streets and “new diagonal arteries dedicated only to traffic”, these plans alone would cut across the existing urban fabric dramatically (see figure 1). Eventually, the study led to formations of Major Street Traffic Plans, written by Olmsted, Bartholomew and Cheney from 1929. When implemented, the plans altered urban form in American cities with new openings, extensions and street patterns to reduce barriers to traffic (Roth, 2007).

Figure 1. Proposed Plans for Downtown, Los Angeles
(Traffic Commission of City and County of Los Angeles, 1924)

To an extent, the Major Street Plans and motorways were planning measures to limit social and environmental externalities. “Separating pedestrian, streetcar, and auto traffic” enhanced the form of urban areas and provided an efficient, coordinated street system, for example improved traffic crossings ensured maximum pedestrian safety (Brown, 2006). With the separation of mobility and access, crossings and passageways secured pedestrian safety in high traffic areas. However, with cities serving as “places of innovation and creative hubs of the economy”, it is assumed that the mass population would favour proximity to central business districts (Jacobs, 1961). Considering a lower population residing in outskirt regions and motorway infrastructures encircling cities, consequently, the separation of pedestrian and…