November 3, 2007

Mayors highlight benefits of walkable cities

"Cities that are 'walkable,' workable and livable add up to the 's' word: sustainable. Cities that are centered on people and public transit, not cars, and built to higher standards of energy efficiency will save money, hum with new development and create jobs to suit a greener way of life."

--New York Times coverage of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Climate Protection Summit

Walkability isn't just good for quality of life and the local economy; it also clearly makes environmental sense. However, some mayors say going green isn't the way to sell smarter development paterns. “You just can’t say we need to reduce global warming because there will be floods and polar bears will be gone,” said Mayor Douglas H. Palmer of Trenton, the Times reports. “They’ll run me out of town.”

Instead, he talks about pollution being bad for children's health, and energy waste driving up monthly heating bills.

Yet streetscapes with pedestrian appeal are clearly good for local economies. Notes the Times:

"The mayor of Fayetteville, Ark., gushed through a slide show about how his city was in the midst of great change. Bleak roads and bland shopping strips were being redrawn to a more human scale. Downtown condominiums were going for a million dollars. Streets once silent at night now bustled."

Good for the local economy, good for the environment, good for quality of life. It kind of makes you wonder why more American communities aren't insisting on pedestrian-friendly development, doesn't it?

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