Pro-Sprawl Policies Help Make Milwaukee America’s Most Segregated Metro

Among the myriad insights from the new Census is another blow to Milwaukee. The metro region was once again rated the most segregated in the country, beating out notoriously divided metros like Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and LA.

We’ve written before about how metro Milwaukee’s development policies encourage sprawl, isolating people of color and the poor in the city (while degrading the environment in the suburbs). In its analysis, Salon takes another tack. Anti-transit policies, like the ones endorsed by former Milwaukee County executive and current governor Scott Walker, serve to further isolate the region’s disenfranchised populations. Salon elaborates on the local atmosphere:

Suburban whites are notably hostile to building any form of public transit to connect city people to suburban jobs, further exacerbating segregation’s ill effects. If you’re wondering if this can somehow, some way, be blamed on union-busting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the answer is yes. Walker took the lead in a campaign against public transit to connect the suburbs to the city during his time as county executive. He thought the funds would be better spent on highways.

James Rowen at Network blog The Political Environment points the finger squarely at local leadership:

As I’ve said before about our region’s appalling segregation, well done, Milwaukee suburbs, regional planners — and, as this new article quoting UW-M development specialist Marc Levine notes — Scott Walker, too.

Rowen adds that the region’s continuing segregation problem is another argument against allowing suburban Waukesha to build a pipeline to pump water from Lake Michigan, which would allow for further sprawling development. Waukesha County, incidentally, is facing charges of housing discrimination:

Why should the City of Milwaukee sell one teaspoon of water to the City of Waukesha – – largest community in Waukesha County – – when official policies throughout the county reinforce these regional population and economic disparities?

The situation in Milwaukee goes to show runaway sprawl and transit disinvestment don’t affect everyone equally. Scott Walker is aggravating the already egregious problem in Milwaukee by pushing through $1.7 billion in suburban highway expansions, while decimating transit budgets.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Active Transportation Alliance looks at bike commuting as a form of workplace wellness. Let’s Go Ride a Bike comments on the “Mary Poppins effect,” wherein female cyclists who fit a certain stereotype are said to receive more favorable treatment from motorists. Google Maps Bike There says transit fare increases are tantamount to tax hikes, and regressive ones at that. And the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition asks local residents to get behind a planning process to help the city compete for Safe Routes to School funds.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Milwaukee Transit to Get a Desperately Needed Boost

|
If there’s one region in the country that desperately needs better transit, it’s Milwaukee. And there are a ton of places that badly need better transit. The notoriously segregated Milwaukee region lacks strong transit connections between the city and growing suburban job centers. About 47 percent of the region’s African American population, mostly concentrated in […]

Wisconsin’s Anti-Urban Policies Fed Milwaukee’s Notorious Racial Segregation

|
After Milwaukee police shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith, setting off a violent confrontation between protesters and police in the predominantly black neighborhood of Sherman Park last weekend, news outlets looked at how the region’s history of discrimination set the stage for an uprising. Milwaukee is one of the most segregated and unequal cities in the country, saddling its black […]

Milwaukee Transit Advocates Win $13.5 Million Settlement From State DOT

|
In a Wisconsin lawsuit that’s been closely watched by transportation reformers around the country, local advocates have extracted some resources for transit from a notoriously highway-obsessed state DOT. Settling in federal court with Milwaukee civil rights groups, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation agreed to provide $13.5 million in transit funding as part of the enormous […]

The Fight for Better Access to Jobs in Detroit and Milwaukee, Using Buses

|
Low-income residents of Detroit and Milwaukee face formidable obstacles to job access. These two Rust Belt regions are consistently ranked among the most segregated in the country, and neither has a good transit system. In both regions, the places that have been growing and adding jobs fastest have been been overwhelmingly sprawling, suburban areas inaccessible to people without cars. A 2013 Brookings study […]