Lack of Walkability in Suburban Areas Threatens Kids' Safety, Health

A recent fight over school-bus service in Loudoun County, Virginia highlights the ways in which suburban growth patterns hamper walkability and harm the health of children.
July 26, 2013, 7am PDT | Anna Bergren Miller | @abergrenmiller
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As reported in the Washington Post, 4,000 Loudoun County students will be without bus service next year. All live within a mile of their schools. But in rapidly-suburbanizing northern Virginia, walking a mile isn’t always easy -- or safe.

“The truth is that Loudoun’s schools are theoretically within walking distance for some students, but there’s a lot more to walkability than proximity,” Kaid Benfield writes. If children have to cross heavy traffic and dodge other obstacles just to travel one mile on foot, is it any wonder that childhood obesity is on the rise?

Benfield has six recommendations for community planners in places like Loudoun County, beginning with the idea of funneling growth into areas that are already walkable, instead of allowing further undirected sprawl.

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Published on Thursday, July 25, 2013 in NRDC Switchboard
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