21 May 2010, 9:39pm
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How cul-de-sacs make people fatter

walkability maps

Cozy, secluded and deadly. That’s how a new study portrays¬†suburban America’s unassuming¬†cul-de-sacs.

Why?

Because people who live in the pods don’t walk and bicycle much, according to research¬†by a¬†University of British Columbia professor.¬†The swirling, disconnected streets don’t allow¬†short trips to a whole lot of places.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Look at the maps above. They show all paths within one kilometer of a selected spot in each of two Seattle neighborhoods; one constricted by meandering streets and the other splayed open by a connected grid.

People who live in the networked neighborhoods travel 26 percent fewer miles by car than those who ensconce themselves in the spaghetti-and-pod burbs.

And, studies by the author, Lawrence Frank, and others show, people who live in neighborhoods that are more walkable tend to, well, walk more. And bike more. That means, per capita, their body mass indexes are lower and they breathe cleaner air.

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