San Diego Law Review


Michael Lewyn

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This Article compares Western Europe to the United States and finds that: (1) Europe is far less automobile-dependent than the United States; and (2) to the limited extent that Europe has sprawled, European governments’ pro-sprawl public policies may be partially to blame. It logically follows that the Inevitability Theory is simply wrong—sprawl can be, and in fact has been, limited in the affluent societies of Western Europe. Part II of this Article shows that European nations in fact sprawl less than the United States in a variety of ways. Europeans walk, bike, and use public transit far more than Americans. Transit ridership is rising, and European urban cores are reasonably healthy. Part III shows that like the United States, European nations have promoted sprawl by building highways. Therefore, to the extent that European cities have sprawled into the countryside, such sprawl may be the result of pro-sprawl government policies rather than an inevitable result of affluence. Part IV rejects the argument that sprawl can only be limited through statist policies, which would be politically impossible in the United States.

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