Transport is not (only) about cars and fuels
It is as much about how and where we live. The so called "Urban Sprawl" is an increasing problem. Urban sprawl occurs when the rate of land use conversion exceeds the rate of population growth. i.e. when we allow ourselves to live more dispersed in housing with larger areas on bigger estates. Europe is traditionally one of the most urbanised continents with 75% of the population living in urban areas. Areas that now, however, are sprawling.
Economy and technology allow us to do so. A paradox and irony seem to be that our buildings are gradually more efficient in terms of intensity (kWh/m2), but bigger and more apart. So the energy gains are consumed by the bigger house and the longer individual transport since public transport is not available. The process is also fuelled by EU cohesion and infrastructure development!
The European Environment Agency has studied the processes and the consequences in detail and published this report. They argue that the planning processes need a change. Presently they reflect the logic of the market but should be more driven by a vision that encompasses environmental and social considerations.
The impact on environment and in particular energy is obvious, as can be seen in the figure below, but still we have to be careful with the advice since the conditions are so different across Europe as the figure above shows.
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