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

11:10 AM EDT on March 30, 2011

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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.

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