Book Summary: “Planet of Cities” by Shlomo Angel

Title: Planet of Cities
Author: Shlomo Angel
Scope: 3.5 stars
Readability: 3.5 stars
My personal rating: 5 stars
See more on my book rating system.

If you enjoy this summary, please support the author by buying the book.

Topic of Book

Angel uses new quantitative data to analyze how cities grow and change over time. The book is part history and part urban planning theory.

Key Take-aways

  • While each appears unique, they all have similar dynamics that are only revealed with analysis of quantitative data that is only recently available.
  • The dominant paradigm of urban planning in the West is the Containment paradigm that tries to force increasing density to limit sprawl.
  • The Containment paradigm has failed to increase density and it has resulted in skyrocketing housing pricing and declining affordability.
  • Government rules to stop urban growth has almost always resulted in failure.
  • Angel advocates for a “Making Room” paradigm based upon:
    • The Inevitable Expansion Proposition: The expansion of cities that urban population growth entails cannot be contained. Instead we must make adequate room to accommodate it.
    • The Sustainable Densities Proposition: City densities must remain within a sustainable range. If density is too low, it must be allowed to increase, and if it is too high, it must be allowed to decline.
    • The Decent Housing Proposition: Strict containment of urban expansion  destroys the homes of the poor and puts new housing out of reach for most people. Decent housing for all can be ensured only if urban land is in ample supply.
    • The Public Works Proposition: As cities expand, the necessary land for public  streets, public infrastructure networks, and public open spaces must be secured in advance of development.
  • Urban history has gone through three periods:
    • From 10,000 BC to 1800 cities were rare and people overwhelmingly lived in villages.
    • Starting in 1800 cities rapidly grew creating significant health and congestion problems.
    • Now we are in a period of slower urbanization and stabilization.
  • Across the globe there is a clear trend of cities become less dense, more dispersed and polycentric over time.
  • Urban population are best described by a power law with a few very large cities and far more smaller cities.
  • When the population of cities are combined by size, the total populations of large, medium and small cities are about the same.
  • Larger cities are growing at the same rate as other cities (contrary to widespread opinion).

Important Quotes from Book

The science of cities is identifying and documenting common patterns of urban development across our planet, even though cities are often regarded as unique.

This volume takes on the challenge of rigorously comparing cities from a global perspective. It reports results from the analysis of a global sample of cities using data on land use obtained from satellite imagery and numerous other sources. Satellite data are defined consistently around the world, making it possible to compare land development patterns in all urban areas. Moreover, such data are accessible for all countries and for a common time period. Their availability is transforming empirical work on urban development patterns.

In particular, all of the data sets show that cities have been decentralizing and reducing population densities as they grow.

There are nearly 4,000 cities on the planet today with populations of 100,000 or more. Every one of these cities is different. Every one of these cities is unique and one of a kind, just like you and I are unique and one of a kind.

This book is a modest contribution toward a science of cities, based on the study of sufficiently large numbers of cities, to help government officials, academics, activists, or interested citizens identify and address their common ailments and seek common cures. As it turns out, the only things we know about the 4,000 cities in the world today are their names, exact locations, and approximate populations. There is very little common and comparable knowledge about these cities, and none of the available information can be described as scientific.

Homeowners, often a majority in many cities, also may perceive an economic interest in curtailing urban expansion. If land for new development on the urban periphery is easy to come by and new houses are easy and cheap to build, then housing values are likely to remain stable and affordable throughout the city. But if land is in short supply and demand for housing is strong, the value of existing houses goes up and homeowners become better off without ever having lifted a finger. The fact that the children of these homeowners will no longer be able to afford a house nearby may be of less concern since they may eventually inherit a valuable property. This is a rather cynical position on the part of homeowners, but clearly a rational one insofar as it protects their property values.

When all of these stakeholders—established residents, municipal officials, homeowners, and environmentalists—come together, they can and often do form formidable coalitions that seek to limit urban expansion by advocating the strict containment of cities within their current footprints and incorporating all new population growth into more compact urban environments. Indeed, “since the world adoption of sustainability objectives in the early 1990s . . . promotion of the compact city—in terms of higher density development, mixed uses, and reuse of brownfield sites—is now enshrined in land use planning in many countries”.

This book provides rigorous as well as partial answers to seven sets of questions that, taken together, present a coherent view of global urban expansion.

I. What are the extents of urban areas, how fast are they expanding over time, why, and why should it matter?

2. How dense are urban areas, how are urban densities changing over time, why, and why should it matter?

3. How centralized are the residences and workplaces in cities, do they tend to disperse to the periphery over time, and if so, why, and why should it matter?

4. How fragmented are the built-up areas of cities, how are levels of fragmentation changing over time, why, and why should it matter?

5. How compact are the shapes of urban footprints, how are their levels of compactness changing over time, why, and why should it matter?

6. How much land will urban areas require in the future, why, and why should it matter?

7. How much cultivated land will be consumed by expanding urban areas, why, and why should it matter?

My primary policy concern was, and still is, that in the absence of ample and accessible land for expansion on the urban periphery, artificial shortages of residential lands will quickly extinguish any hope that housing will remain affordable, especially for the urban poor—the majority of the future inhabitants of burgeoning cities in developing countries.

The central policy prescription of this book demands a fundamental change of hearts and minds. It puts into question the main tenets of the familiar Containment Paradigm, also known as smart growth, urban growth management, or compact city, which is designed to combat boundless urban expansion. This paradigm can be traced back to the London Greenbelt Act of 1938 (figure 1.5) and the British Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 (Munton 1983). I examine this paradigm in a broader global perspective and show it to be deficient and next to useless in addressing the central questions now facing expanding cities outside the United States and Europe. In its place I propose to revive an alternative Making Room Paradigm that seeks to come to terms with the expected expansion of cities, particularly in the rapidly urbanizing countries in Asia and Africa, and to make the minimally necessary preparations for such expansion instead of seeking to contain it. I say “revive” because this paradigm guided the expansion of a number of cities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: New York, Barcelona, Berlin, and Buenos Aires are a few important examples.

The Making Room Paradigm rests on four propositions that need to be introduced and discussed before delving into the core parts of the book… They are simple conclusions that are grounded in my studies of cities and in my personal experiences living and working in cities throughout the world.

1. The Inevitable Expansion Proposition: The expansion of cities that urban population growth entails cannot be contained. Instead we must make adequate room to accommodate it.

2. The Sustainable Densities Proposition: City densities must remain within a sustainable range. If density is too low, it must be allowed to increase, and if it is too high, it must be allowed to decline.

3. The Decent Housing Proposition: Strict containment of urban expansion destroys the homes of the poor and puts new housing out of reach for most people. Decent housing for all can be ensured only if urban land is in ample supply.

4. The Public Works Proposition: As cities expand, the necessary land for public streets, public infrastructure networks, and public open spaces must be secured in advance of development.

Honest and justifiable attempts to stop people from moving to cities and to prevent construction on the urban periphery, however pitiful in retrospect, have been with us for centuries and are still with us today.

“Between 1602 and 1630, no fewer than fourteen proclamations were enacted in attempts to limit London’s growth” (Lai 1988, 28). The population of the city increased to 500,000 by 1674, to 675,000 by 1750, and to 959,000 by 1800. By 1860 the population of London was 2.76 million, by 1929 it was 8.0 million… million, but its built-up area grew much faster. In fact, it grew sixty-three-fold, from 3,600 hectares (36 km2) to 230,000 hectares (2,300 km2). Neither London’s population growth rate nor its rate of physical expansion were atypical. Queen Elizabeth’s noble attempts to contain the growth of London are now more than 400 years old, and their utter and obvious failure should have alerted us to the futility of such attempts.

In stark contrast to the queen’s proclamation of 1580, the 1811 New York City Commissioners’ Plan for Manhattan made room for a sevenfold expansion of its built-up area at the time. Their proclamation was the exact opposite.

Though the commissioners’ plan provided enough buildable land for a sevenfold increase in the built-up area of the island, by the end of the nineteenth century it was largely built up. Between 1810 and 1900 its built-up area did expand sevenfold, while its population grew almost twentyfold, from 96,000 to 1.85 million with a concomitant increase in overcrowding. New York City now needed more area for expansion, both to accommodate its growing population and to relieve the overcrowding in its congested tenements.

No matter how sensible and noble the motives, rather than trying to stop people from coming to settle in cities and failing in the attempt, it makes more sense to take the necessary steps to accommodate them. In other words, when it comes to confronting the prospects of urban population growth and expansion, we would do well to heed the advice of the commissioners rather than the proclamation of the queen.

I use the term containment here in a more general sense to include not only greenbelts and urban growth boundaries but smart growth controls, urban consolidation, or compact city development as well. The Containment Paradigm is thus perceived as an all-encompassing paradigm that includes all strategies that prohibit development— and particularly residential development—in large areas on the urban periphery through land use controls, whether through building moratoria, rationing of building permits, requiring large minimum lot sizes, refusing to extend roads and infrastructure lines, or other restrictive practices.

Urban containment, its advocates claim, is the antidote to sprawl.

Still, an accumulating body of evidence attests that successful containment results in significantly higher land and house prices—by reducing the supply of land on the urban fringe or by failing to respond to increased demand for residential land by promptly increasing land.. There is also evidence suggesting that containment leads to more volatile swings in land and housing prices… to higher levels of speculation in residential land and housing… and to slower rates of metropolitan job growth.

The Containment Paradigm can be traced back to the London Greenbelt Act of 1938 (Munton 1983) and the British Town and Country Planning Act of 1947, but the prime example is the greenbelt of Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea (figure 4.1). Established in 1971, the greenbelt rigorously prohibited the conversion of land to urban use in an area of 1,482 square kilometers (km2) around the city. The area within the greenbelt amounted to 554 km2 while the built-up area circa 1972 amounted to 206 km2 or only 37 percent of the area available for expansion.

In contrast, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, offers a striking example of unrestricted access to land on the urban periphery that vastly expanded access to affordable housing between 1974 and 1984.

The experiences of Seoul and Bangkok demonstrate that as long as urban populations and household incomes are growing rapidly, the containment of urban expansion through artificial restrictions on the conversion of peripheral land to urban use results in unnecessary land and house price inflation that reduces the ability of urban dwellers, especially low-income or newly formed families, to house themselves. Conversely, when peripheral land is in ample supply, housing becomes more plentiful and more affordable.

The Decent Housing Proposition has been my primary reason for writing this book and my original motivation for engaging in the research that preceded it. My earlier studies of the housing problem in developing countries have convinced me that the affordable housing problem is, in essence, a land problem (Angel et al. 1983). Like many other observers, such as John Turner (1967) in Latin America, I found that wherever the urban poor could obtain affordable access to minimally serviced land, they could build their own homes and create vibrant communities with little if any support from the government. When free of government harassment and the threat of eviction, their houses would quickly improve over time with their investment of their savings and sweat equity. People could house themselves at the required scale and create many millions of decent homes, while leaving very few people homeless, something that all governments (save that of modern-day Singapore, an outlier on every possible scale) have consistently failed to do. Admittedly, the expanding settlements of the poor did not conform to building codes, land subdivision regulations, land use and zoning requirements, or even property rights regimes. In that sense, they were firmly entrenched in the informal sector.

It is a clear sign of progress, then, that in the past three decades official attitudes toward these informal settlements have changed gradually yet decisively. Most of those now concerned with the housing problem in developing countries have focused on improving living conditions in informal settlements.

The key to a viable national housing policy, then, is a viable urban land supply. A viable housing policy is always a two-pronged policy. One prong involves stabilizing the occupation of land in existing communities and transforming them into thriving urban neighborhoods, while the other involves opening up new lands—in adequate quantities and with good access to job opportunities—to accommodate newly formed families and newcomers to the city. That second prong of a viable housing policy thus stands in direct conflict with the Containment Paradigm and brings it into question.

The Public Works Proposition requires that an adequate amount of land on the urban fringe—where expansion is most likely to take place—be allocated for public works, typically on the order of one-third or more of the land, before urban development takes place. About 5 percent should consist of the rights-of-way for a grid of arterial roads, preferably spaced 1 km apart and within walking distance from the interior of the areas they enclose. This grid can carry public transport and trunk infrastructure as well as facilitate drainage. Another share of 5 percent should consist of a select hierarchy of public open spaces where development, whether by formal developers, informal developers, or squatters, can be repulsed effectively.

The relevant history of urbanization for the study of global urban expansion can be usefully divided into three main periods. The first period started with the earliest cities that were founded at the advent of settled agriculture and the domestication of plants and animals circa 10,000 BC, and it continued until about 1800. The second period began around 1800, when urban growth rates began to accelerate, and continued until 2010, when 50 percent of the world’s population lived in cities and urban population growth rates were already declining in all world regions.

A third period has already begun in some countries, where the urban share of the total population is no longer increasing, and it will last until the urbanization project slows to its end, possibly by the end of this century. By that time, some 75–80 percent of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas as the world population stabilizes at some 9–11 billion people. Barring major catastrophes, that percentage is expected to remain relatively stable over time. This recognition that the urbanization project—the settlement of the human population in urban areas—has a beginning, middle, and end lends urgency to engage with it now, before it is too late to intervene in the shaping of cities in a meaningful manner.

During the first period, most people lived in villages and farms. Cities as a whole rarely, if ever, contained more than 10 percent of the world’s population at any time (Bairoch 1988). Any individual city accommodated very few people, typically not more than tens of thousands, and most of them lived within its defensive walls at near-subsistence levels in crowded quarters within walking distance of each other. A few cities that could command large empires—Babylon in 300 BC, Rome in 200 AD, Chang’an in 700 AD, or Baghdad in 900 AD—grew to accommodate much larger populations for a while, but they were the exception rather than the rule.

The transition into the second period began at the end of the eighteenth century. A sharp break with the past, often referred to as a scientific and technological revolution, set in motion a series of persistent, irreversible, mutually supportive, and lasting transformations. During this period, a consistent increase in real incomes was coupled with a consistent increase in the world’s population. More and more people came to inhabit the planet, and in many countries a greater share of the population came to live in cities. City walls were finally dismantled as the burden of their defense shifted to their emerging nation states. The dangers to public health and the spread of epidemics were ameliorated as people lived longer and had fewer children. The commuting range— initially by the omnibus, horsecar on rails, cable car, and electric trolley, and later by the automobile, bus, and fast train—was extended tenfold and more, resulting in cities that were no longer walking cities. In parallel, the range for obtaining food supplies was also extended several-fold. As a result, many cities could now contain millions of people and take up a lot more land than they did before. a critical turning point in the history of urbanization and in five parallel histories: economic development; world population as a whole; public health; city walls; and transport.

The three periods in the global history of urbanization are associated with three corresponding periods in the global history of public health. The theory of epidemiologic transition distinguishes three main ages: pestilence and famine; receding pandemics; and degenerative and man-made diseases.

In the first age, infectious diseases, malnutrition, maternity complications, and recurring epidemics kept the world population in check.

In the second age, improvements in nutrition and personal hygiene associated with higher incomes and the (largely unexplained) disappearance of disease-carrying hosts, particularly in late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, led to higher rates of survival and therefore to net population growth in both cities and rural areas. Overcrowding, filthy water, and the absence of water-borne sanitation, storm drainage, and regular garbage collection in nineteenth-century industrial cities were still associated with higher mortality rates in cities than in rural areas. The populations of cities grew only because of rapid rural-urban migration.  Only in the second half of the nineteenth century was the connection between filthy water and cholera understood, and only then did a massive expansion of water, sanitation, and drainage works begin in earnest in European and North American cities. Improvements in medicine and vaccination came into their own in the twentieth century, much accelerated by the discovery of penicillin in 1928. The reduction in mortality, especially among infants and mothers, as well as the demand for skilled labor and its associated costs of child rearing, gradually led to decreases in fertility. Average life expectancy at birth during this age increased rapidly from less than 30 years to more than 50.

The third age in the epidemiologic transition accompanied the reduction in the rates of infectious disease and the increase in life expectancy. It was associated with the advent of degenerative diseases of old age, such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, and dementia, as well as man-made diseases caused by smoking, radiation, pollution, or unhealthy diets. Although many infectious diseases became a thing of the past, expanded trade and tourism posed a significant risk of global outbreaks of infectious diseases by new vectors or by new mutations of old ones. During this third age, average life expectancy at birth continued to increase above 50 years of age with advances in both public works and medical care. Different world regions have experienced these public health transitions at different times. As with urbanization, the second age started earlier in Europe and North America, somewhat later in Latin America, and most recently in Asia and Africa.

While cities at the advent of the age of receding pandemics were associated with higher health risks than rural areas, they became associated with lower health risks than rural areas in the third age.

Throughout the first period and up until the early 1800s almost all cities-with the important exception or cities in Britain and North America-were surrounded by defensive walls. Their primary function was strategic: to control the surrounding territory by frustrating all efforts to overrun the city, whether by invading armies, marauders, or rebels.

Although generations of defensive walls outlasted the introduction of cannons by several centuries, their strategic value was eventually lost and they were gradually dismantled during the early part of the nineteenth century. The end of the Napoleon wars in 18 15 is associated with a fundamental change in the physical character of the city: the loss, or at the very least the downfall, of its defensive walls.

Throughout history and until the beginning of the nineteenth century, all the cities in the world—even the largest ones—were walking cities. Their physical size was generally limited to an area small enough for people to walk from one place to another. Goods were moved by pack animals or carts and a small minority of people could travel on horseback or by carriage, but the great majority walked. Rome in the third century AD, during the time of the Emperor Aurelian, was the largest city in the world…. 6.10). The maximum distance from the wall to the center of Rome—Forum Romanum—was only 2 km, easily walkable in less than half an hour.

In the last decades of the eighteenth century, long before the introduction of automobiles, a series of technological innovations in transportation and communication, and their commercialization, made it possible for cities to expand beyond their walkable range. These innovations began with several forms of public transport—the horse-drawn omnibus, the horsecar on rails, the steam-propelled ferry and train, the electric trolley, the elevated and underground train, and later, in the early decades of he twentieth century, the private automobile, truck, and bus, all propelled by internal combustion engines.

We are now in the midst of the third and, q uite possibly, final period in the history of urbanization, with one-half of the world’s population living in a global network of cities spanning the entire planet. Barring a major catastrophe that will make cities unlivable, we can expect that toward the end of this century an even larger share of the world’s population will live in cities, and that net migration from mral areas to cities will have largely come to an end. The urbanization project, arguably the most ambitious and momentous one that humanity has ever undertaken, will have lasted a mere 300 years, a modest total of 12 generations.

The distribution of city populations in large countries and regions can be better approximated by a power law than by the normal distribution (Blank and Solomon2000; Carroll 1982). In other words, the distribution of city populations is more like the distribution of wealth—a very large number of poor people with little or no wealth, relatively few with average wealth, and a long tail of fewer and fewer people with more and more wealth.

In a typical urban hierarchy, at the high end we should expect to find a few cities that are very large, in the middle a large number of cities of lesser size, and at the low end a very large number of cities that are small or very small. We would do well to accept this situation rather than try to reorganize it forcefully to conform to some preconceived utopian order of optimal size cities.

Are there more people now living in larger cities than in smaller ones? The answer is a resounding no. An approximately equal number of people live in cities of all size ranges, and together they form a global hierarchy of cities. In this hierarchy, people and firms are distributed approximately evenly in all city population size ranges. There are very few large cities in the world today, and their total population is not very different from the total population in all intermediate-sized cities, or from the total population in all small cities. This suggests that, as far as attracting people and businesses to cities, there may be no inherent advantages to city population size, and hence, as already noted, cities would have no optimal size.

The findings summarized in this section imply that there are no inherent economic advantages to city population size as such that would attract more people, more firms, and more resources to larger cities at the expense of smaller ones. Any size advantages appear to be canceled by higher costs of living, production, or transport. Therefore, on average, cities of all sizes are likely to grow at the same rate and to form a hierarchy of cities—possibly a spatial hierarchy of central places as well—where urban population growth is rather evenly distributed among cities of all population size classes.

These changes signaled a third transformation in the spatial structure to a polycentric city in which workplaces are distributed throughout the metropolitan area, drawing their workers from the entire metropolitan labor market.

Why does all this matter? It matters because in preparing for the coming urban expansion, we should take into account, at the very minimum, that the cities of the future will most likely be polycentric. T his realization requires, first of all, planning for mixed residential, productive, and commercial land use throughout the metropolitan fringe.

In sum we can identify at least three distinct sets of forces acting on city footprints to make them more compact: forces seeking to minimize the costs of their walls that lead to high perimeter compactness; forces seeking to minimize the length of the journey to work in the CBD that lead to high proximity compactness; and forces seeking to minimize the length of the journey to work in the mixed-use city—be it the walking city, the horsecar city predating the monocentric city, or the polycentric city postdating it— that lead to high cohesion compactness.

The Making Room Paradigm is predicated on the four propositions introduced at the beginning of this book.

The Inevitable Expansion Proposition stated: first, the urbanization process, while it is still in full swing, cannot be stopped or reversed; and second, the expansion of cities that it entails cannot and will not be contained. No matter how sensible and noble the motives, rather than trying to stop people from coming to settle in cities and failing in the attempt, it makes more sense to take the necessary steps to accommodate them. In other words, when it comes to confronting the prospects of urban population growth and expansion, we would do well to heed the advice of the New York City commissioners

who created the 1811 grid plan for Manhattan, rather than that of Queen Elizabeth I, who forbade any construction within three miles of the gates of London.

The Sustainable Densities Proposition sought to broaden our perspective so we can see the entire spectrum of cities—from cities that are spread out at very low densities, contribute an unfairly large share of carbon emissions, and are thus unsustainable, to cities that are so dense and overcrowded that they are unfit for dignified human habitation and are thus unsustainable in a different yet no less important sense. Selective densification is now an important agenda in low-density cities, especially in North America. But no matter how reasonable the motives for densification may be, and despite the urgency of slowing down climate change or protecting cultivated lands and precious rural landscapes, it is not the appropriate strategy for dense and overcrowded cities. On the contrary, in many cities densities need to be allowed and encouraged to decline. This can be done practically and economically by opening up new lands for expansion.

The Decent Housing Proposition is concerned with the millions of families, mostly in developing countries, who have settled in or are still migrating to cities to live and work with dignity. If we adopt urban containment as a strategy for mitigating climate change, then the protection of our planet would likely come at the expense of the poor. Strict measures to protect the natural environment by blocking urban expansion or making it difficult, as commonly advocated in the United States and readily exported to developing countries, could choke the supplies of affordable lands on the fringes of cities and limit the abilities of ordinary people to house themselves. We would be better off employing other strategies for mitigating climate change, and we can draw inspiration from key advocates for keeping global warming at bay—like Gore (2006) and Stern (2008) for example—that do not include urban containment in their comprehensive kits of tools for mitigating climate change.

The Public Works Proposition required that an adequate amount—on the order of one-third—of land on the urban fringe be allocated for public works before urban development takes place there. A share of about 5 percent of that land should consist of the rights-of-way for a grid of arterial roads to carry public transport and trunk infrastructure as well as facilitate drainage—preferably spaced 1 kilometer (km) apart within walking distance from the interior of the areas they enclose. Another share of a similar size should contain a protected hierarchy of public open spaces where development—whether by formal developers, informal developers, or squatters—can be repulsed.

The laissez-faire operations of the urban land market may be relied upon in most places to allocate adequate lands for public works at the subdivision level, when land is converted from fields to urban plots. But they cannot be relied upon to allocate sufficient lands for two essential forms of public works—arterial roads and a hierarchy of public open spaces. This is a serious market failure with serious consequences for the environmental sustainability of cities. The allocation of lands for public works at the municipal and metropolitan levels calls for organized public action that cannot come about simply by individuals and firms acting in their own self-interest in the marketplace. It is our public works that indeed enable the free market in urban land to work in an efficient, equitable, and sustainable manner.

In short, instead of a greenbelt on the periphery of the city, the Making Room Paradigm opts for a green city full of open spaces large and small, far and close, designated for intensive use and protected from overuse. Instead of surrounding the city with a greenbelt that aims to contain its inevitable expansion and likely failing in the attempt, this element of the paradigm calls for built-up areas and open spaces to interpenetrate each other as the city expands outward.

To accommodate urban expansion, an arterial grid on the urban fringe must have five essential properties:

  • Total Coverage: the grid must cover the entire area designation for expansion in the next 20 to 30 years, not just a segment of that area.
  • Connectivity: The arterial grid should be a mesh of long, continuous roads that crisscross the expansion area and connect it to the existing road network.
  • One-kilometer spacing: To ensure that public transit is within a 10-minute walk, these roads should be spaced no more than 1 km apart.
  • Wide right-of-way: The width of the roads should be 20-30 meters, so they can have designated bus lanes, bike paths, a median, and several lanes to carry intracity traffic, while remaining easy to cross.
  • Progressive Improvement: the rights-of-way of for the entire grid should be acquired by municipal authorities. Dirt roads can then be opened up in portions of the grid, and selected segments can be paved and improved over the years as demand builds up and as budgets become available.

This book asserts that there is an efficient, equitable, and sustainable way for the public sector to engage in the urbanization project now taking place in many developing countries. It involves the abandonment of the prevailing Containment Paradigm as irrelevant and ill-fitting for cities that are scheduled to grow several-fold in coming decades. Instead, it calls for the adoption of an alternative Making Room Paradigm, an urban development strategy that aims to accommodate urban population growth rather than constrict and constrain it.

If you would like to learn more about the role of cities in creating progress, read my book From Poverty to Progress.

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