April 13, 2005

If Your Kid Is Fat, Blame Your Car

So says Mark Fenton, host of the PBS show America's Walking.

"We've built such an autocentric world, it's possible to expend no calories while going about the routines of daily life," Fenton told a Lawrence audience, according to the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World.

Parents drive their kids everywhere, because kids live in communities where it's impossible for them to transport themselves anywhere meaningful.

I could walk to school, and walk to some of my friends' houses. My mom regularly sent my sister and I to the store to pick up milk, bread and sandwich meat. And I wasn't living in a city, but an inner-ring suburb of New York, in a neighborhood of all single-family houses.

But there were sidewalks there, and buildings up at the street, and streets that were easily crossable on foot, and things like stores and schools not only close by, but that you could walk to. They weren't surrounded by so much asphalt, and so much pedestrian-hostile multi-lane entries/exits that it was uncomfortable to walk there. Yet people drove places too; there was adequate parking for all. The key was that places were designed for sharing the infrastructure; not designed solely for cars to the point of being pedestrian-implausible.

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