Another article has appeared on the relationship between the design of cities and towns, and the obesity rates of their occupants. MSNBC’s article draws a direct link between living in older neighborhoods that were designed and built with pedestrians in mind (rather than the all-mighty car) and newer sprawling suburban neighborhoods where nothing is within walking distance. They have a link to a site, walkscore.com, that lists the most walkable neighborhoods in the U.S., and you can input your own location to see how your town rates. My town, or the area right around my house, ranked a mediocre 62 out of 100. A couple of the results were questionable. It seemed to fail to find the park where the library it listed is located, but named another nearby “park” which is not really a park, it’s more of a wetlands preserve. It missed a number of restaurants that I am aware of, and grocery stores. I have no idea what their criteria is to get listed with them. Perhaps it’s just new and will be refined as time goes on.
Also, on the Walkscore Web site, please sign the petition to “Improve America’s Walkscore”, in support of the 2009 Transportation Bill. Here’s the text of the petition:
“Help reduce our vulnerability to oil prices by tripling—or more—the share of funding for walking, biking and public transit.
Build a world-class rail network—both between cities and within them—that links our communities and transports people and goods more efficiently.
Require that roads are safe for everyone using them—including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users, as well as motorists.“
I don’t think anyone will be surprised that living in the suburbs is designed for a life that revolves around having to drive everywhere. It’s a tradeoff. If I lived in the city, I wouldn’t be able to garden, but shops and entertainment (movie theaters, bookstores, etc.) would be within walking distance. Right now, I just wish more of the stores in town would install bike racks so I could ride to them. They have them at Target, but not Safeway. Unfortunately my Target trips often involve purchases of things I can’t really carry on a bike (40 lb. box of kitty litter — if anyone has actually managed to haul one of those things on a bike I’d like to know about it!).