This morning, Atlanta mayor Kaim Reed took to the airwaves to defend the city's respond to the crippling snowstorm that struck the region this week, bringing the metropolis to a standstill. It was not, he argued, the city's fault. However, in his Beyond Buildings blog for ARCHITECT, Aaron Betsky notes that some element of blame can, indeed, be assigned, and it should be assigned to sprawl.
"If you ever wanted proof that our current version of sprawl doesn't work, Altanta's 'snowmageddon' has provided it," he writes. "In good sprawl fashion, it was the Home Depots and Targets that gave refuge, with some people sleeping in the aisles while others brought food and coffee to motorists form roadside McDonald's. It would be poignant if it were not such a sad and painful episode for so many."
The Atlanta snowstorm is, on a smaller scale, similar to a lesson from Hurriane Katrina and New Orleans, Betsky says, noting that "both storms exacerbated our misuse of the environment." Part of the problem in Atlanta: long commutes with a lack of public transportation. However, Atlanta isn't the only U.S. city with these characteristics. The latest snowstorm should serve as a wake up call to the need to rethink our communities. "We need to understand and work with our natural environment," Betsky write, "build with the land, not on it."