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Poor urban design could harm he...

Poor urban design could harm health

Fewer local attractions result in less exercise.

Suburban pedestrians spend less time walking than they did a year ago due to lack of amenities. Many residents are relocating to housing developments where local attractions are in short supply, resulting in less exercise and sedentary lifestyles. The trend is forcing suburbanites to get behind the wheel and explore further out, rather than restricting themselves to whatever’s in walking distance - not much.

As more commuters take to their cars, the resulting decrease in pedestrian traffic could adversely affect Australians’ health.

Environmentalists will argue car exhaust and pollution are the main reasons why Australians should walk as much as possible, rather than driving. University of Melbourne’s professor Billie Giles-Corti suggests the same, but for very different reasons. Her stance is simple: more time spent walking generally means better physical health.

The current trend of driving instead of walking won’t change unless city developers dedicate resources and time to make suburbs more pedestrian-friendly.

Research published in Social Science & Medicine suggests city dwellers will walk if they have reason to.

For every park or attraction added to a community, foot traffic per person increases by 21 minutes per week, local shops and amenities have a similar effect.

Local attractions benefit more than the surrounding community’s health, though. They increase property value and make the area more attractive to buyers - a win-win for everyone.

Posted by Craig Francis

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