Edited by Robin Hickman, Moshe Givoni, David Bonilla and David Banister
For some time, urban and transport policies have promoted urban containment as a means to create balanced communities, and supported reductions in the use of cars in order to promote enhanced urban vitality. These objectives have been translated into physical proposals by many designers in the form of increased densities, mixed-use development and restrictions on mobility. Such plans, which have been promoted in the UK under the banner of Urban Renaissance (Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, 2000) and across the Atlantic as New Urbanism (Duany and Plater-Zyberk, 1991; Calthorpe, 1993: Katz, 1994), appear to fly in the face of trends around the world towards increased personal mobility and greater specialisation of land uses. The main argument for increasing density and creating mixed-use development is that it will help reduce the use of cars by diminishing the distances between where people live and where they work and access services. Such compaction will, in the view of the proposers, encourage the use of more sustainable forms of transport such as walking, cycling and the use of public transport. Taking as a case study the Greater London area of England, this chapter explores whether there is any empirical evidence to support the claims by the proponents of an Urban Renaissance and supporters of New Urbanism that higher densities and mixed-use development will help to reduce the distance travelled, especially by car.
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