Denser Communities = More Calories Burned

Dr. Lawrence Frank (U. of British Columbia) looked at Atlanta to make the connection between health reform and transportation reform, devising a clever 'energy index'. While the index rose in denser neighborhoods, it didn't in mixed-use ones.
February 19, 2010, 6am PST | Irvin Dawid
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The results of the survey were surprising. Density without mixed use produced greater amounts of walking and biking than those with mixed use.

"Frank, Steve Winkelman of D.C.'s Center for Clean Air Policy, and Michael Greenwald of the Seattle-based firm Urban Design 4 Health used data from Atlanta's SMARTRAQ survey to map the amount of calories burned by various blends of walking, transit, and car use. That calorie-burning factor was dubbed the "energy index."

The "energy index" of Atlantans increased significantly as their neighborhoods grew denser, according to the study, and the number of calories they used on motorized travel shrank in denser, more walkable areas...In neighborhoods where mixed-use development grew, bringing housing closer to commercial property, the energy used for driving and walking decreased, leaving Atlantans' "energy index" unaffected."

"This result likely demonstrates that the energy required to travel in a very mixed land use pattern is lower for both walking and driving - with no real impact on the relationship between the two modes," the study's authors wrote.

From Streetsblog, Transportation Reform Is Health Reform:
"For every long-term $1 increase in gas prices, the national obesity rate drops by 10 percent, according to Courtemanche. That relationship goes a long way towards explaining why the House and Senate health care bills include "community transformation" grants to entice cities and towns into building bike paths, playgrounds, and other pedestrian-friendly improvements."

Thanks to Catherine Cecchi

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Published on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 in Streetsblog
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