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Senior Contributor

Street design determining health?

Since most of us live a ways from towns, do you think the suburbs could have an effect of the residents' health? May this be a saving grace for those who don't like cities expansion? We all know that walking is a great form of exercise. http://news.msn.com/in-depth/the-suburbs-made-us-fat-1

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Honored Advisor

Re: Street design determining health?

Suburbs didn't really arise until the widespread use of automobiles, when enough people could afford to buy one and commute to work. It is pretty quintessential America to hop in a car and drive everywhere.

Cities present a lot of challenges to health from other perspectives. Concentrations of people in tight quarters causes more contact with pathogens, issues with sanitation, etc. Modern sewage systems, better ventilation, attention to environmental pollution, etc., help mitigate that a lot.

Rural areas have health advantages and disadvantages, too. This study seems to analyze one variable, walking. It is kind of difficult to say that only one factor can be isolated in a system as complex as human society. "Walkable neighborhoods" have been talked about a lot. I think it could be great to live in one.
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Senior Contributor

Re: Street design determining health?

I agree it would be great to be able to walk and feel safe as the French do in their villages walking to buy their bread and supplies for the day. Crime in our county is getting out of control again as it was in the 80's. It is not safe to walk in the country.  A man's throat was cut requiring 45 stiches in a nice quiet town while sitting on his porch with a friend. The guy who lived on the street just walked up and slashed his throat. He recovered. Just one example.

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Street design determining health?

I grew up in the suburbs.  Dad sold his small town grocery store and we moved to the "burbs" when I was 5.   Walked to school K-3 then we moved again.  Kids in that neighborhood walked but me and one other kid were bussed out of the neighborhood.  Rode the bus grades 3 4 and 5 then they built a new school and I walked for 6th grade.  Junior High and High school were about an 1/2 bus ride.  Drove a vehicle my dad provided part of my junior year and my senior year.

 

There were no cul-d-sacs in that 60's housing development and all of us kids were constantly on our bikes or walking every where, which meant each others houses or we played a lot in the fields that neighbored the devleopment. There was no shopping. Eventually a 7/11 opened up and a gas station but they weren't there when we moved there. It was a good 15 minute drive to the nearest grocery store and more than that to any other kind of store.  There was no mass transit service so pretty much all shopping was done on Saturday because back in that day nothing except gas stations were open on Sundays.

 

With today's economy I can certainly see the attraction of living some place you don't have to use a car for everything.  Back then the center city's were abandoned for the suburbs.  Today I think the suburbs are being abandoned for more complete neighborhood living.  A good thing for life, small business and people in general I think.   I agree with Kay that there are many more factors to health in these different kinds of living situations.

 

We moved to the farm 24 years ago.  We are about 61/2 miles outside the local small town on a state maintained 2 lane "highway".  Pretty much no one except the Amish walk this road. I never allowed my kids to and they didn't ride bikes on it much either.  When we moved here you never even saw people on the streets in town.  Rarely even saw kids playing in the yards.  Fortunately that is beginning to change.  You do see kids in the yards and people are starting to walk to downtown from their homes a little bit.  Not much, but I do find it encouraging.  Perhaps people are beginning to feel safer and are developing those neighborly relationships that allow children to play outside safely.

 

I think about the news story of a woman working in a McDonald's, I think, that didn't have babysitting so she let her child play at a neighboring park while she worked.  Authorities found out and she got in trouble.  But I read where they talked to parents that frequented that park and said they knew about the child and kind of watched her.  I think that is wonderful.  Exactly what this country needs to get back to.  Watching out for each other.  I think that has been missing for quite some time.  Never did see a story on what happened to the woman and her child.  Initially I think she got fired, but I think she at least got her job back.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Street design determining health?

I think there is much more of "it takes a village to raise a child" in the small towns.  Running into our little town to mom's, I'm impressed with so many of our residents out walking.  Some in pairs & some alone-during the day.  We have 3 restaurants, 3 taverns which bring in a lot of out of town customers, especially during the evenings/weekends, which is good for our economy but I would not walk at night alone because of this.

 

We have new park playground equipment just installed and is used quite a bit.  I think many times moms meet there & watch other kids while the mom goes to the store, library (next door), etc.  There was an article in the county paper when this equipment was installed by the community and I hated to see the article.  So afraid it would attract predators.  I'm phobic about that.

 

We have a small local grocery store which I frequent as much as possible but for most of my large grocery trips (especially fresh produce) I go to next larger town.

 

I think the idea of these newer developments would be great.  Just doubt if I could afford a place there.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Street design determining health?

Growing up we lived 1 3/4 miles from town on a county paved road and would ride our bikes in to the library and what not.  It wasn't unheard of to walk home from religion class during nice weather.  Now a days you don't see anyone in town playing in the city park or walking the streets and this was town of 200 maybe.  You don't see alot of activity on that road anymore and I hardly know anyone anymore in town.  I can say that if we were in town EVERYONE knew us and reported back to mom and dad if we did something we weren't suppose to.  I guess it goes back to parenting and spending time together as a family too.  I'm not sure about the whole we have to take care of everyone else because sometimes (look at the welfare system and how broke that is) a person needs to step up and do it themselves but when it comes to children we need to watch out for those as well as disciplin our youth and make them resposible for actions.  We have forgotten the whole actions/consequences it seems these days. 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Street design determining health?

That is horrible! We seem to be living in such a violent time...the events in Ferguson, MO, are startling and troubling.

I got stuck having to go to Walmart this evening...Mike needed bok choy, and not another store in town stocks it but Sam! I had met daighter and Winn at his preschool, in a downtown church. We made an evening of things...grabbed supper at Chik-fil-A, which has a nice indoor playground.

There were three little boys in there, all 2-3, including him, and they seemed to be having a ball. After that, we went across to the strip mall, and his new school sneakers. It was still light when we hugged goodbye and they headed home. I came out into a dark parking lot, which is something I hadn't done in ages. Not a very smart thing to do...
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