May 29, 2004

What Happens When Streets Are Solely Built For Cars

"When communities organize themselves around the automobile as the primary mode of transportation, they effectively engineer physical activity right out of the equation," notes an article in Endeavors, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill publication. "Children can spend as much time riding to soccer practice as they spend on the field."

Rich Killingsworth, UNC research associate professor in the School of Public Health, heads the Active Living by Design project that will investigate "how people and their communities make decisions that encourage or discourage physical activity."

"When we looked at the data across the United States, we found that as communities became less compact — sprawled out — they showed higher prevalence of hypertension, obesity, and less physical activity," Killingsworth told Endeavors.

Reminder: Encouraging physical activity means more than the presence of sidewalks -- there are sidewalks on Speen Street between Rtes. 9 and 30, but does anyone want to walk there? There has to be an appealing streetscape so people want to walk, and the ability to get to destinations safely and pleasantly.

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