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Old 11-08-04, 03:21 PM   #1
Dahon.Steve
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Sprawl related to heath Woes

DURHAM, N.C. - North Carolina researchers are heading a national study to find the best ways to redesign communities so that Americans get out of their cars and travel by foot or bicycle.

The $2.8 million, five-year study involves Active Living by Design, headquartered in Chapel Hill, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park.


"Community design and limited transportation choice often prevent people from leading physically active lives," said Richard Killingsworth, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Active Living by Design Program.


Killingsworth was guest editor last year of a special issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion that reported that people living amid suburban sprawl where walking is difficult are more likely to have weight problems and high blood pressure. NIEHS researcher Allen Dearry was also was a key project scientist.


In the new study, Active Living by Design is to help 25 test communities across the country focus on improving public health by involving city planning, transportation, architecture, recreation, crime prevention, traffic safety and education.


Chapel Hill, where Killingsworth and Dearry both live in subdivisions designed to be walkable, is the only North Carolina community involved in the project.


Then NIEHS, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (news - web sites), is to conduct follow-up examinations of the program's impact on physical activity, obesity and other health indicators.


"We'd like to determine if simple changes in the built environment and in individual behavior can enhance physical activity and reduce obesity for residents," NIEHS director Kenneth Olden said in announcing the project. "Local municipalities could then look at the results and determine if modifying the built environment might affect the public's health and reduce health care costs."


The built environment includes houses, schools and workplaces as well as public areas like parks and museums.


Federal health officials say 64 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Though the causes may involve various genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors, evidence continues to point toward sedentary lifestyles as a major contributor, and walking as the most healthful way out.

___
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...th_amid_sprawl

Look at this from the "Active Living by Design" website:

>>>>>Active transportation offers health benefits, reduces air pollution and traffic congestion and is cost-efficient. Adults and children alike are getting involved in Walk to School and Bike to Work programs. With a nearly 9% growth rate, bicycling was the country's fastest growing commute mode during the 1990s. <<<<<

Active Living by Design Program: www.activelivingbydesign.org


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: www.rwjf.org
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Old 11-08-04, 03:47 PM   #2
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I just read this article on Yahoo. I suppose we are preaching to the proverbial choir around here, but I am sure many others will be ready this in their morning papers. Will they heed this advice? Probably not. But, as one is repeatedly beat over the head by facts, the more likely they are to eventually take notice.
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Old 11-08-04, 03:58 PM   #3
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Before cars people had to work, shop and go to school near where they lived. The car has given risen to dormitory communities and industrial estates where people are expected to drive between their various activities. I notice that when these big stores are surround by massive parking areas that it is hardly practicable to walk from the store to the nearest bus stop carrying a couple of days food supply.

I think we could achieve a gradual transition back to the "whole life" communities, if a property tax transportation levy were put on properties that did not have a balanced number of shops. residences, industry, schools, public services within half a mile. This levy could go towards the cost of public transportation.
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Old 11-08-04, 11:20 PM   #4
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Before cars people had to work, shop and go to school near where they lived. The car has given risen to dormitory communities and industrial estates where people are expected to drive between their various activities. I notice that when these big stores are surround by massive parking areas that it is hardly practicable to walk from the store to the nearest bus stop carrying a couple of days food supply.

I think we could achieve a gradual transition back to the "whole life" communities, if a property tax transportation levy were put on properties that did not have a balanced number of shops. residences, industry, schools, public services within half a mile. This levy could go towards the cost of public transportation.
Tax, tax, tax. Let's take more and more of people's personal income. The problem with taxing people is that the ones levying the tax are the ones responsible for the shops not being near the homes. The city should tax the city for poor planning. The nearest bus stop to the entrance to the mega shopping stores are about two hundred yards(meters) from the entrances. It's not too far to walk that much. Around here they sell these folding "carts" that people can put their stuff in they got at the store. It shouldn't be too hard to get them on the bus. They have two wheels and are easy to use. The only problem with the kids and schools in my area is that some people moving in a block from an elementary school here are told their kids cannot get in because the school is "full", and their kids will have to go to school miles away on the other side of town. Some of the kids in the local school have parents that don't live there, but work near the school. Make everyone's kids go to the neighborhood school and this should work.
We already pay property taxes here to fund public transportation, but the "monied" areas paying the most into the system are the ones with the least bus routes. The suburbs actually are paying for buses to run in the city, 30 miles away.
They supposedly have one of those "communities" in this area, but I saw the layout, and they have all the stores at one end. I would have put them in the middle. That way, if more house are built out, then another center could be put in.
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Old 11-09-04, 09:47 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by AndrewP
Before cars people had to work, shop and go to school near where they lived. The car has given risen to dormitory communities and industrial estates where people are expected to drive between their various activities. I notice that when these big stores are surround by massive parking areas that it is hardly practicable to walk from the store to the nearest bus stop carrying a couple of days food supply.

I think we could achieve a gradual transition back to the "whole life" communities, if a property tax transportation levy were put on properties that did not have a balanced number of shops. residences, industry, schools, public services within half a mile. This levy could go towards the cost of public transportation.
This summer, I visited all the big stores in the burbs with my bicycle. It's possible. I did it by using commuter rail to get me within several miles of the mall and then I was able to "break thru" the sprawl. It wasn't as difficult as imagined and I was able to shop in malls 50 miles away!

Many of these large stores have bus stops but here's the problem. The buses have very long wait times and they are sometimes located in non-sheltered stops where the passengers have to stand in the rain! Some stops are located in the back of the mall where it can get dangerous at night! Having to walk to the bus stop is the least of the problems. It's the long waiting time for the bus that forces everyone to use cars. I believe more money should be spent on public transportation even if it means raising the gas tax. Did you know that bus companies in NJ have to pay for road construction required by local cities?

I still believe a better alternative would be a massive education plan on the benefits of bike/train to the mall.
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Old 11-09-04, 10:19 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by AndrewP
Before cars people had to work, shop and go to school near where they lived. The car has given risen to dormitory communities and industrial estates where people are expected to drive between their various activities. I notice that when these big stores are surround by massive parking areas that it is hardly practicable to walk from the store to the nearest bus stop carrying a couple of days food supply.

I think we could achieve a gradual transition back to the "whole life" communities, if a property tax transportation levy were put on properties that did not have a balanced number of shops. residences, industry, schools, public services within half a mile. This levy could go towards the cost of public transportation.

"New Urbanist" is the hot buzzword for planned communities that are designed to provide walkable ammenities such as grocery stores, shops, entertainment, and public transport. These communities tend to be very pricey and practically rule-out middle and low income folks (except for some token subsidized units).

These places look very strange. Sort-of like movie sets. It looks like they are getting some things right, but I get an uncanny discomfort in these places. I guess the main problem is that they are designed to "look" like some fictional main street USA-- but are really privately managed entities which have popped up overnight.

I think that the best thing for people to do, in the NorthEast at least, is to move back to city centers. The old cities were designed intelligently and are very livable. Sadly, white flight has left the inner cities with deep problems related to dis-investment and crime. Fortunately, this has been turning around in the last 10 years. People are getting sick of driving through gridlock and having to deal with surburb distances and are finding that living in the city can be rewarding and interesting.
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Old 11-09-04, 10:54 AM   #7
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"New Urbanist" is the hot buzzword for planned communities that are designed to provide walkable ammenities such as grocery stores, shops, entertainment, and public transport. These communities tend to be very pricey and practically rule-out middle and low income folks (except for some token subsidized units).
You're right about these new walkable communites and how they are pricey! It's a very sad situation but what can be done? If you move out to the burbs, housing is still expensive and getting worse each year. The fact remains that we have not built housing for low income and lower middle income folks. The poor are basically left out.
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Old 11-09-04, 12:57 PM   #8
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One of the nicest thing about Paris, when you get away from the big tourist attractions, any place you stop you will find nice shops and restaurants serving people who live and work in the neighborhood and many know each other. This pattern was established before the car. I see the only way of getting shops to forgo placing themselves in the middle of a huge parking lot, is to subsidize those that serve a self contained neighborhood. My suggestion above to put extra tax on places that dont serve a self contained neighborhood, is in effect a subsidy to the neighborhood centred developments. I am sorry if this sounds like a communist planned economy, but it is better than an lifestyle that is planned for the benefit of the auto industry.

Many people are dissuaded from using public transport by bad frequency of service rather than high cost of fares.
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Old 11-09-04, 01:27 PM   #9
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You're right about these new walkable communites and how they are pricey! It's a very sad situation but what can be done? If you move out to the burbs, housing is still expensive and getting worse each year. The fact remains that we have not built housing for low income and lower middle income folks. The poor are basically left out.

The solution is to move back to the inner cities.

But it is not easy to do that. People with kids simply can't send them to public schools in most cities because the schools are appalling. We have to start with gentrification by singles, and couples with no kids (dinks = dual income no kids). Over time the increase in tax base and community involvment solves the problems that white flight started in the 70's and 80's, at that point in time, city schools will become viable again.

Sadly, this takes decades.
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Old 11-09-04, 02:02 PM   #10
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The solution is to move back to the inner cities.

But it is not easy to do that. People with kids simply can't send them to public schools in most cities because the schools are appalling. We have to start with gentrification by singles, and couples with no kids (dinks = dual income no kids). Over time the increase in tax base and community involvment solves the problems that white flight started in the 70's and 80's, at that point in time, city schools will become viable again.

Sadly, this takes decades.
This is a good hypothesis (sp)

Gentrification is happening in the cities but the "dinks" are not moving into projects! We are seeing new luxury condos and coops being constructed just blocks away from the slums and projects. They end up sending their kids to private schools and bypass the public schools altogether. You can spend 10K per pupil and still have something like the New York City school system.

The problem is much deeper than you think. There is a growing underclass in the cities that is just not going away. In downtown LA, you have a growing Mexican population that is poor, uneducated and not moving upward. The result of this are "guarded" communities within the cities to protect those who are making good incomes. There is a huge portion of the population that cannot afford homes, condos, coops or even market rate rent because their income is too low.

If the "dinks" do increase the tax base, the money will not not go into building low income housing. New construction when it does happen is organized by private companies that do NOT want to build housing for low income famalies because they are looking to maximize profits. In fact, cities do not want construction for units with more than 2 bedrooms because they fear large famalies with children will move in the neighborhood. Children mean more money needed for public schools which means higher taxes.

Cities are usually forced by the NAACP into building housing for blacks and hispanics or they would never do this.
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Old 11-09-04, 06:03 PM   #11
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This summer, I visited all the big stores in the burbs with my bicycle. It's possible. I did it by using commuter rail to get me within several miles of the mall and then I was able to "break thru" the sprawl. It wasn't as difficult as imagined and I was able to shop in malls 50 miles away!

Many of these large stores have bus stops but here's the problem. The buses have very long wait times and they are sometimes located in non-sheltered stops where the passengers have to stand in the rain! Some stops are located in the back of the mall where it can get dangerous at night! Having to walk to the bus stop is the least of the problems. It's the long waiting time for the bus that forces everyone to use cars. I believe more money should be spent on public transportation even if it means raising the gas tax. Did you know that bus companies in NJ have to pay for road construction required by local cities?

I still believe a better alternative would be a massive education plan on the benefits of bike/train to the mall.

BINGO!!! People will spends thousands of dollars on cars all their lives because getting 10-15 miles, even in major US cities, can take up to 3 hours. When I was a young lad, I used to get around the San Francisco Bay Area by bus. Going from Alameda Naval Station to San Leandro would take about 3 hours. If I had known about riding bikes back then, I could have saved about 2 hours on each trip.
Out here, California is patting itself on the back for passing much stricter requirements for vehicle smog emissions. These will cut the pollution level here by less than 1%. I wonder how much it would be reduced by buses running all over the places every few minutes? Even if only 5% used the buses, that would be over ten times the reduction in smog.
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Old 11-13-04, 05:46 PM   #12
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I have noticed that here in Dayton there is a trend to do away with massive parking spaces in shopping centers and strip malls, and even doing away with malls altogether.

For example, the Salem Mall located in the surburb of Trotwood is going to be razed next year and in it's place will be "stand alone" shops, housing and office complexes with roads going through it rather that a massive parking lot, similar to the new Hills and Dales complex in surburban Kettering. People here have been "malled" to death and are sick of malls. Also, new restaurants are being built on already existing parking spaces - eliminating more land-gobbling. Even the new Super Wal-Mart here doesn't have a massive parking area.

Smart growth and development is happening here - slowly but surely - just now not as much as I would like.
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Old 11-13-04, 06:05 PM   #13
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For all the talk of "new urbanism" happening, I still see extensions of 1950's ways of doing things: another walmart-based strip mall opened up in Philadelphia recently, with a massive parkinglot in the front, and no bicylce ammentities that I could see, suburban housing developments continue to be built on 1 acre + lots, without sidewalks, old row houses in Philadelphia are knocked down and rebuilt for a larger lot size (about 1 1/2 as wide as the originals) with a garage as the first floor.

OTOH, there are new rail lines being opened, with bicycle access, new bike racks are popping up in almost all the downtowns in the area. It is an interesting mix of societal visions.
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