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Unsustainable Sprawl Hit Hardest by Sub-Prime Foreclosures

by Kate Trainor on February 17, 2008

Sprawl_Foreclosures Unsustainable Sprawl Hit Hardest by Sub-Prime Foreclosures
Nearly three million homes have foreclosed in the last three years. Blame variable interest rates, sub-prime mortgages, and suburban sprawl.

Droves of homeowners are walking away from their behemoth McMansions in the ‘burbs, where developers have made way for homes by bulldozing nature and stressing municipal infrastructure. These idyllic, big box subdivisions—complete with cheaply constructed two-car garages fit for Ford F150s—suck water, gas, energy, and other natural resources, even more so than homes in the city. It takes more resources to supply sprawling suburbs with these amenities, as they’re so far from the source.

According to Triple Pundit:

Subdivisions built on the edges of urban areas where once arable land is bulldozed to make way for over-sized, energy-intensive houses, with landscaping consisting of grassy yards adorned with non-native species of trees and shrubs, the whole lot of it out of character with the natural surroundings and located so that most residents are forced to drive miles and miles to get to work, for too often there is no public transportation available.


James Howard Kunstler predicted this at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) four years ago. Check out his video presentation:

This trend should further support the fight against sprawl and help prove to developers—and blue collar dreamers (think big yard, big truck, big litter of chubby children, and picket fence)—that sprawl just isn’t sustainable. If this keeps up (which it almost certainly will), it looks like folks will continue to abandon their cul-de-sac homes and commuters will be ditching their S.U.V.s for the subway. At least, let’s hope so.

Photo via flickr by Dean_Terry & whatknot.

Related posts:

  1. Foreclosures Rockin’ the Suburbs, Now “Slums”
  2. Urban Sprawl Skyrockets
  3. Suburban Sprawl and Brand New Ghost Towns in LA
  4. Obama Plans to Fight Sprawl, Support Peds As President
  5. Gas Prices Hit Rural Areas the Hardest
  6. Recent Posts

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ChipSeal March 10, 2008 at 7:22 am

One of the downsides for cycling advocates is that ghost bikes reinforce the idea that cycling is inherently dangerous. That is a message sure to entice motorists from their cages!
Helmet promotion is also a counter productive message for the same reason.
I suppose it is the difference between being pro-cycling or anti-car. Pro-cycling is advocating an alternative for the fun and liberty of it. Anti-car wants cars to be seen as a menace to all. They wish to wrest public space from auto use, and promoting the perception danger for cyclists helps them to the goal of separate facilities for cyclist. (Less space for cars)
There is some controversy as to whether bike facilities actually make public spaces safer for cyclists. This is a concern for the pro-cycling crowd. The anti-car folks could care less.
I am not convinced that cycling memorials are helpful in promoting cycling interests.


2 Peter March 10, 2008 at 10:38 am

with the previous commenter. the idea behind ghost bikes is legit, of course, but what is the actual effect?

for now, i figure ‘continue’ - but i think it’s worth another look.


3 Nick March 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm

If I get hit by some soccer mom driving an SUV while trying to sip her latte and send a text message, please put one of these up for me.


4 Linda March 10, 2008 at 5:15 pm

If you go down to the second link on the left on the following website (Memorial Lifehouse) it will take you to a memorial built for a bicyclist in Portland, OR in 2002. Links to more photos at the bottom.


5 Lloyd Alter March 10, 2008 at 7:19 pm

A buddy of mine was killed and we not only planted a ghost bike but had a procession and a memorial. It was very much like a funeral with the same rationale: a way for the living to deal with grief and anger. Chipseal can say [i]“I am not convinced that cycling memorials are helpful in promoting cycling interests.[/i]” but it was very helpful to me in dealing with my anger at a system that promotes the use of cars and lets them travel at high speed on shared roads, or lets big dump trucks travel in crowded cities without sideguards.

Cycling is inherently dangerous and will continue to be until cities take appropriate measures to make it safer with more bike lanes, traffic control driver education. To think that we will entice drivers to join us by taking off our helmets and ignoring the carnage is just stupid.



6 ChipSeal March 12, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Mr Alter, I am so sorry for your loss. I think that ghost bikes are poignant and moving memorials. I only object to the permanent display of them, for the reasons stated.


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