Density is Good for Cities, But is it Healthy for Kids?

Yes, people walk around more, less obesity, etc. But a report shows that city kids are less frequently allowed outside to play for safety concerns.

Phil McDermott looks at research from New Zealand that suggests that city life offers significantly fewer opportunities for children to get physical exercise, light and fresh air. The report comes from Penelope Carroll and Karen Witten of Massey University.

McDermott summarizes:

"Witten and Carroll suggest that traffic volumes, strangers on the street, and lack of outdoor play space mean that children in central city environments are likely to be confined indoors. And that raises the disadvantages of high density dwellings: insufficient space, internal noise, lack of natural light, lack of privacy, inadequate parking, inadequate indoor play space, and the potentially hazardous nature of balconies. Poor health outcomes is a major concern."

Full Story: Where Do the Children Play?



Car-centric Density is bad for Kids

This article describes a dense downtown area that wasn't designed to be pedestrian friendly. The conclusions seem obvious, but is it really that significant to the main city planning debates going on currently? How many people are promoting dense pedestrian unfriendly neighborhoods?

The cited report fairly

The cited report fairly specifically deals with a badly-designed area of Aukland that is dominated by social housing built for low income workers. Much about the report is not translatable to a more general topic of the health of children in dense, urban settings. Nonetheless, the subject of providing open spaces for children within urban density is an important one and needs to be repeatedly addressed as the world population increases and urbanizes.

We live in a downtown highrise with our child and are fortunate to have a good amount of open space and nearby parks and trails for activity. But I know that not all areas of urban density have these amenities and I would like to see them planned in with the expectation of families with children (and not just young singles or retirees) inhabiting these environments.

And Ped-Centered Density Is Good for Kids

I think he would get very different results if he did his research in Amsterdam, which is dense and which has many streets that have limited auto access and that are designed for the benefit of pedestrians and children.

Charles Siegel

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