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People in dense cities are thinner and have healthier hearts than people in sprawling subdivisions. New research says the secret is in the patterns of the streets.

To read the full article, visit:

To summarise, the author argues that our modern urban design, which produce closed-off streets that don't flow, are playing a negative impact on our lives as they discourage walking.

"The original city design was really no design at all. Known as “organic,” it is the medieval pattern we see throughout many of Europe’s haphazardly still-thriving cities. Then, for centuries during and after the Renaissance, the rectilinear grid was the gold standard in city design. But in the twentieth century came what Garrick and Marshall call a complete overhaul—a shift toward the branching tree model of the modern subdivision, which was optimized for the great horseless carriage," the author writes.

Researchers have found that people who live in more sparse, tree-like communities spend about 18 percent more time driving than do people who live in dense grids. And they die more readily—despite old research that implied otherwise. Studies from the 1950s looked at safety in cul-de-sacs and found, as a researcher put it, “You'll have fewer crashes in the cul-de-sacs. Sure, you're safer if you never leave the cul-de-sac. If you take into account the entire city, your city might be killing more people."

Have you ever considered neighborhood design when you were in the market to rent or purchase your home?

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12 August 2016

How can our cities be retrofitted for walking?

Some ideas include: adding public art to walkable areas, providing economic incentives for not driving, and reconfiguring parks and streetscapes to make them more amenable to pedestrians.

The benefits, as this article in Doggerel notes, are many.

"Some of the strategic co-benefits the research identified are fairly obvious, such as cutting pollution by taking cars off the road, curbing urban sprawl, and producing human-scaled public spaces.

But others are less so — economic rationales, for instance: walkable places have been proved time and time again to attract new residents and tourists to cities, increase foot traffic around businesses, and raise property values. In Barcelona, redesigning streets for walkability helped raise annual visitor rates by more than 300% in some areas. Pedestrianizing London’s Trafalgar Square has made it more popular as well," the author writes.

Walkable places have been linked to an increased sense of social cohesion, in addition to helping fight health problems associated with sedentary lifestyles. What steps have you taken to lead a more active lifestyle?

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1 August 2016

Here's an interesting article in Quartz magazine on the downfalls of suburban living.

"Far from posing a mere logistical or aesthetic problem, (suburbia) shapes–or perhaps more accurately, it circumscribes–our experience of life and our social relationships in insidious ways," the author argues.

While the whole article is worth a read, the following image is perhaps the most illustrative of the issues presented. So which of these two scenes do you prefer and why?

What did you think about the article and its take on suburbia?

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1 August 2016

Here's a great illustration of how the costs of urban and suburban infrastructure and transportation services vary greatly, with sprawling communities on the more expensive side of things. This handy infographic (click to expand) from environmental think tank Sustainable Prosperity, neatly displays the gaping differences between annual costs per household found in a study by the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia. In total, the difference in annual city costs between suburban and urban homes in the region is $2,046 CAD, or $1,623 in U.S. dollars.

The Halifax Regional Municipality found the cost of building infrastructure and providing services was proportionate to how far apart homes were located. Researchers calculated costs per capita, and looked at how travel distances correlated with costs of services like fire-fighting, which is twice as expensive in suburban neighborhoods. Obvious differences include services affected by distance-related factors like transportation, roads, sidewalks, and school busses. Less obvious differences? Libraries. Even the cost of libraries is almost double in suburban areas.


What are your thoughts on the costs of suburban sprawl?

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18 July 2016