Diana DeRubertis's blog

Beyond the Trail

A recent Planetizen interview on the relationship between park space and active living got me thinking about what spaces inspire physical activity and what spaces discourage it.

In my old apartment complex, the indoor fitness centers were jammed while the nearby riverside walking trails were desolate, despite nearly perfect year-round weather.  Why? The trails were perceived as unsafe because they were completely isolated from view.

Why not rail?

 

When faced with the costs and logistics of rail, planners and city officials increasingly seem to favor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a trend likely to continue through the current recession.  But even with the many persuasive arguments for BRT, the nagging question remains:  why not rail?

Shopping: An ‘Obnoxious Industrial Activity’?

 

As James Howard Kunstler points out in Home From Nowhere, one of the tragedies of single-use zoning is that it branded shopping as an “obnoxious industrial activity that must be kept separate from houses”.  Ironically, the places where most Americans shop today come pretty close to “obnoxious” and “industrial”. 

Is 'Walking Distance' Overrated?

The common wisdom about walkable neighborhoods holds that density – proximity to destinations – determines the number of walking trips. An ideal walking distance of a quarter mile is usually prescribed between residences and the nearest transit stop or retail center.

I don’t dispute that walking distance is important, especially when I’m lugging an armload of groceries. However, some trendy high-density development favors compactness at the expense of comfort and safety.

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