Contrary to popular belief, the pace and proximity of urban living can actually contribute to more healthful lifestyles, while lower-density communities tend to have a higher incidence of cardiovascular and lung diseases, including asthma in children, as well as cancer, diabetes, obesity, traffic injuries and deaths; these are exacerbated by an increase in air pollution, gridlock and traffic accidents, and by a lack of physical activity. The study recommended that people seek out cities and towns with reliable public transportation systems, bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths, ones that have schools, businesses and stores within walking distance.
But back to that ubiquitous car: Within reason, do whatever is possible to minimize long commutes and half-hour treks to the nearest grocery store. Bring back the sidewalk! Community is born from social routine â€” running into neighbors at the mailbox or while walking down the street. Design for these serendipitous encounters.
There are but a few developments in the Charlottesville area that begin to meet the above criteria, but I expect we’ll see more.