|Growth of urban sprawl along the French Riviera,
Maps show growth of urban sprawl along a 10-km
strip of the French Mediterranean coast between 1975 and 1990. Two
maps on the left identify agricultural and forested areas that were
urbanized during 1975-90. Near map shows the end result - some 35
per cent of the strip is now built on
Source: Blue Plan 2001
Across Europe, transport and mobility are becoming
major issues for most cities. In the urban areas of Western Europe, half
of all car trips are for less than 6 km while 10 per cent are for less
than 1 km. The major factor affecting the increase in traffic is increasing
travel distances to work, shopping, schools and leisure activities. These
distances are increasing because origins and destinations (residential
areas, industrial areas, shopping areas and so on) are being located further
apart and often primarily linked with roads. Also, as a result of globalization,
increasing competition forces people to find work in different locations
and different jobs at different times of the day. Alternatives to the
car such as public transport, walking and cycling facilities are often
poorly developed or ill-adapted to newly emerging urban patterns (EEA
2001). Major exceptions are Denmark and the Netherlands where infrastructure
for alternatives to the car is well developed.
The increase in vehicle traffic has significant implications for urban
air quality, although this has been partially offset by a reduction in
major air pollutant emissions from transport in Western European countries.
Nevertheless, considerable numbers of people in urban areas are still
exposed to high pollution levels, leading to some health-related issues.
Projections for 2010 show that 70 per cent of the urban population are
still likely to be exposed to particulate matter levels in excess of threshold
values, 20 per cent to excess NO2 and 15 per cent to excess
benzene (EEA 2001).
The number of exceedance days for NO2 in CEE cities is much
lower than in EU cities, and far below the number allowed by EU directives.
However, with affluence levels and the number of vehicles increasing,
photochemical smog - associated with increasing NOx, hydrocarbons
and carbon monoxide - has recently become a problem. The move towards
leadfree petrol and mandatory catalysers on private vehicles is now helping
improve urban air quality in these countries.