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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 01-24-07, 09:24 AM   #1
donrhummy
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Does Urban Sprawl Make People Fat?

http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20070120/bob9.asp

What does everyone think about the article/studies? (Read the article, don't just comment on my thread's title)

the crux of the discussion:
Quote:
Frank proposes that sprawl discourages physical activity, but some researchers suggest that people who don't care to exercise choose suburban life....University of Toronto economist Matthew Turner charges that "a lot of people out there don't like urban sprawl, and those people are trying to hijack the obesity epidemic to further the smart-growth agenda [and] change how cities look."
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Old 01-24-07, 09:44 AM   #2
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Im not sure I agree with the article at all. Im 40 years old, grew up in the US, and still live here. My entire life growing up I was basically taught by example that hard physical work and jobs which required physical labor were to be avoided at all costs. This is in all facets of our lives, it literally is everywhere. Prettymuch all choices have that underlying goal, from place to live to how you get there to the jobs one chooses. Avoid exercise basically, avoid doing anything that requires time, patience, and hard work(physical work). Our entire society and system we live in reflects this I think anyway. The price for those choices is right in front of our faces.
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Old 01-24-07, 09:50 AM   #3
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I live in an older part of the city with a grid system and mixed development. I rarely see another adult walk or bike anywhere.
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Old 01-24-07, 10:33 AM   #4
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I wouls agree with this. I grew up on the sprawling west coast of Florida where everything you want to get to is at least a 10-15 minute drive. I think an environment that is more organized for local travel by foot and bike makes a difference, though it is ultimately up to the individual.
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Old 01-24-07, 10:45 AM   #5
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OK, here's my thought:

I don't think urban sprawl can be blamed because "distance" changes over generations. For example, twenty years ago, walking 15-20 blocks to get around New York was considered a normal walking distance. No one i know thought that to be a big deal. Today, without any change in the size of a block, I'd say 70% of the people I know (including youths) would complain and some refuse to walk that distance.

So you could design a city that had "short" distances between everything today and i guarantee in 20-30 years people will be complaining, "3 blocks away?! Forget it, I'll just call for delivery."

(EDIT: Oh and this is an extreme example but, today, many people would consider a 4 hour drive to be a long, arduous trip. It wasn't that long ago that people expected to take a few days to get from boston to New York. You cannot plan for people's likely increasing impatience/sloth -- unless you can figure out how to make contractable cities. )

Last edited by donrhummy; 01-24-07 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 01-24-07, 11:51 AM   #6
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You're dealing with correlational data, so it's going to be impossible to conclude that sprawl "causes" sloth, or vice versa. But I have a good answer for myself. I keep a log of physical activity. When I lived carfree on the outskirts of a small town about 20 miles from the city and work (sprawl conditions), I exercisd for an average 25 minutes a day. When I moved to the city, about 4 miles from work (non-sprawl condition, also carfree), my exercise increased to an average of 65 minutes/day. This is because I walk or ride to work, which would have been impossible in the sprawl condition.

Some people love execise and will do it no matter what. Many of us lack the time or will to go out of our way to exercise as much as we should. For us, incorporaing exrcis into our daily routine is the best possible solution, and that is best done in a more densely populated area.
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Old 01-24-07, 05:13 PM   #7
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There's a lot of fat people in my city (Philadelphia), so you can't blame it all on sprawl. You might be able to blame it on cheesesteaks though...

Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy
I don't think urban sprawl can be blamed because "distance" changes over generations. For example, twenty years ago, walking 15-20 blocks to get around New York was considered a normal walking distance. No one i know thought that to be a big deal. Today, without any change in the size of a block, I'd say 70% of the people I know (including youths) would complain and some refuse to walk that distance.
Do you still live in New York or do you witness this behavior somewhere else? Just today I suggested walking from Olde City to University City (about 30 blocks) instead of taking the subway, and my co-workers, who live in the 'burbs, agreed to walk with me. From this incredibly large sample, I conclude that people who live or spend a lot of time in a city still walk a lot.
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Old 01-24-07, 05:42 PM   #8
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I guess it's part culture, part design. I live in a nice little part of Little Rock known as Pleasant Valley. Within a few blocks I have a Post Office, several banks, a movie theater, a hotel, drug stores, Radio Shack, video stores, a big box discounter, two grocery stores(one natural foods) quite a few restaurants and not just chains, but independent French, Japanese, Mexican, Indian as well. Quite a few other stores as well and running rivers with fish and animals surrounded by greenbelts.

All are easy to walk to. But do people? Not many. There is a convenience store 1/2 block from me. As I left to walk to it, a car was warming up in the parking lot of my apartment. I saw the car again when I arrived at the store. As I left the store, the car was pulling out of the parking lot, and when I got back to the apartment, the driver was getting out of the car. Not a whole lot of time was saved, and you could hear his power steering squeeling the entire time.
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Old 01-24-07, 05:48 PM   #9
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I would certainly agree. Urban sprawl places needed services in some quadrant away from residential areas. Few Amerians will walk more than two maybe three blocks. In traditional large cities, congestion made it easiest to walk to needed services. Not the case in the suburbs.
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Old 01-24-07, 06:23 PM   #10
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Just plain laziness causes fat people. From my house it's 3 miles to the nearest convience store, five to the nearest town. 3-10+ to places I like to hunt and fish. Along with a job that is always outdoors, and on an easy day is somewhat physically demanding, one of several bikes is my primary transportation.
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Old 01-24-07, 07:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artkansas
All are easy to walk to. But do people? Not many. There is a convenience store 1/2 block from me. As I left to walk to it, a car was warming up in the parking lot of my apartment. I saw the car again when I arrived at the store. As I left the store, the car was pulling out of the parking lot, and when I got back to the apartment, the driver was getting out of the car. Not a whole lot of time was saved, and you could hear his power steering squeeling the entire time.
Funny story! This is the sort of thing you'd expect to read in a book like "An Explanation of the Fall of the Roman Empire." End of the book would read like this, "Eventually breathing was considered too much effort, so the whole population expired."
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Old 01-25-07, 02:48 AM   #12
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Depends if sprawl has a bus.

If I remember right NYC = 20blocks a mile.
Here I have to walk/bike through 50 rows of cars to get to the food store!
Before that I have to bike/walk past a drive thru resturant.
People are eating to much! Duh!
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Old 01-25-07, 10:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Just plain laziness causes fat people.
Eating too much causes fat people, not laziness. In fact some of the hardest working people I know are fat. In fact it was this hard working attitude that got them fat in the first place. They would leave early for work, skipping breakfast, work through lunch, keep working late and then pig out at dinner because they were famished. Do that for a few years and voila you are fat! Also people use food to cope. Some use exercise. Some use alcohol. Some people use a nice big meal.
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Old 01-25-07, 12:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerv
End of the book would read like this, "Eventually breathing was considered too much effort, so the whole population expired."
That was part of the storyline of the movie "Serenity". Humans were terraforming all the planets and on one planet they added some chemicals to keep people from becoming too aggressive. It went out of control. Most of the people became so passive that they eventually stopped eating and breathing, but a small portion of population mutated to become hyper-aggressive savages. Serenity is also the only science fiction movie that I can recall that had bicycles in it. Actually they looked like Worksman industrial trikes but the principal was there.
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Old 01-25-07, 02:10 PM   #15
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$10 a gallon gasoline will cure all of this. Just wait, oh, until 2012 or 2015.
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Old 01-25-07, 03:24 PM   #16
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And they complain about being fat, and about the gas prices, and about traffic congestion. ARGHHH
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Old 01-25-07, 09:40 PM   #17
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http://www.iags.org/n1030034.htm
Quote:
Originally Posted by kf5nd
$10 a gallon gasoline will cure all of this. Just wait, oh, until 2012 or 2015.
The hidden cosat of gas is already at 5 a gallon!http://www.iags.org/n1030034.htm
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Old 01-27-07, 07:15 PM   #18
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It's easy to say everyone should live in a tight dense area just because you can do it, but that isn't for everyone. For instance if you're elderly and need to nap during the day, you probably wouldn't like living somewhere where you can hear every noise your neighbor makes, you'd prefer a house with a bigger lot.

One of my main goals in life is to afford a house with a huge lot, with the house in the middle of it and at least about 200 feet between the house and the end of my property in every direction, so that if I have noisy neighbors I can't hear them when I'm in my house.
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Old 01-27-07, 08:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kf5nd
And they complain about being fat, and about the gas prices, and about traffic congestion. ARGHHH
Why is it so hard for people to see the connections here? The solution seems so simple to us, but most people just don't get it. . . yet.
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Old 01-28-07, 12:09 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Roody
Why is it so hard for people to see the connections here? The solution seems so simple to us, but most people just don't get it. . . yet.
Why?? It's always hard to see what you don't want to see. Really, there's an awful lot of people living in the burbs that are going to see having to start riding a bike, when they can't afford gas anymore, as one heck of a big step down in their lifestyle. I guess for a lot of them riding a bike just isn't all that much fun.
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Old 01-28-07, 10:59 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BearsPaw
There's a lot of fat people in my city (Philadelphia), so you can't blame it all on sprawl. You might be able to blame it on cheesesteaks though...



Do you still live in New York or do you witness this behavior somewhere else? Just today I suggested walking from Olde City to University City (about 30 blocks) instead of taking the subway, and my co-workers, who live in the 'burbs, agreed to walk with me. From this incredibly large sample, I conclude that people who live or spend a lot of time in a city still walk a lot.
How long'd that take you? Last time I remember walking from roughly 21st/Walnut to 2nd/Chestnut it was about a 40-45 min. walk. Wasn't really in a hurry, but just a leisurely pace. But UC to Old City? that's about 1.10 or so......it'd be a nice walk on a nice crisp fall day...
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Old 01-28-07, 12:00 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TuckertonRR
How long'd that take you? Last time I remember walking from roughly 21st/Walnut to 2nd/Chestnut it was about a 40-45 min. walk. Wasn't really in a hurry, but just a leisurely pace. But UC to Old City? that's about 1.10 or so......it'd be a nice walk on a nice crisp fall day...
I don't remember exactly, but it was less than an hour. Walking always seems so slow to me, compared to biking, but it wasn't bad. Are you sure it took you that long? That's about 2 minutes per block, which seems slow to me, even for a leisurely pace.

Using a car to go from one place in the city to somewhere else in this city is just a waste of time. This weekend I met some friends at a restaurant in South Philly. I live in Logan Square, and it took me about 20 minutes to bike there. One group of friends drove from Old City and it took them about 20 minutes to get there. But then, it took over half an hour for everyone to find a parking spot, and some had to park as far away as 7 blocks. I just locked my bike to a street sign in front of the restaurant.
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Old 01-28-07, 12:46 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kf5nd
$10 a gallon gasoline will cure all of this. Just wait, oh, until 2012 or 2015.
At one time, I would have agreed but I can remember agreeing when people said that $1.00 per gallon gasoline would cure all this. I have bought a house for less than some people pay for a space in a parking condo.

It's the same with smoking. How many smokers today swore they would quit before they'd pay $3.00 for a pack of smokes?

I don't understand the behavioral psychology behind this but it seems that a negative economic motivator (plus positive ones such as employer-sponsored public transit incentives) does not cause people to stop doing what they want to do. It seems they prefer to keep up the behavior and have less money for other things.

edit: I don't own a car but I drive once or twice a week. Maybe one day I'll have the speed and endurance to bike to the southern extreme of the urban transit district; or maybe public transit will come back to my area. Before the automobile became the only way to travel, this place had two rail lines and a bus line.

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Old 01-28-07, 12:57 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pedex
Im not sure I agree with the article at all. Im 40 years old, grew up in the US, and still live here. My entire life growing up I was basically taught by example that hard physical work and jobs which required physical labor were to be avoided at all costs. This is in all facets of our lives, it literally is everywhere. Prettymuch all choices have that underlying goal, from place to live to how you get there to the jobs one chooses. Avoid exercise basically, avoid doing anything that requires time, patience, and hard work(physical work). Our entire society and system we live in reflects this I think anyway. The price for those choices is right in front of our faces.
It's a basic contradiction of our culture. "Hard work" is a value always officially touted, but on the other hand there is also the message that we should avoid hard work at all costs & that this is a major goal of life.
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Old 01-28-07, 01:03 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
Why is it so hard for people to see the connections here? The solution seems so simple to us, but most people just don't get it. . . yet.
Even easy solutions require education. Billions are being spent on motor vehicle ads, not ads for public transit. The ruling elites see it as in their interests not to propagate solutions to these problems - it would cut into their profits.

Capitalism is fundamentally about maximizing profits to the exclusion of other values, which means the detriment of the common good. We see this in our system of transportation & many other areas.

Capitalism can never be reformed because profit maximization is basic to it. Even the most benign employer will fire workers if his/her profits dip too low.

We might envision a socio-economic system based on human values instead of on the tyranny of wealth: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." - Karl Marx

Last edited by Cyclepath; 01-28-07 at 01:17 PM.
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