Connection between street design and public health

Urbanism Speakeasy, 560x315, Andy Boenau (1)

Street design didn’t give me the flu, but it does contribute to my health. It impacts all of us, whether or not we realize it.


Active Living – it’s not just for health nuts

I enjoy walking and riding bikes, but I wouldn’t consider myself a health nut. I never count calories and I love foods that I probably shouldn’t. If there was a pizza-only diet that didn’t kill me, I’d be on it.

I recently had an opportunity to speak at an event full of health professionals – researchers, sports enthusiasts, doctors, and more. There were a few of us outsiders there – “amateurs” who like the idea of people living more and dying less. So because of the audience, I’ve been thinking a lot about the connection between health and infrastructure.

If Americans seem to care so much about nutrition and exercise, why not also explore the sedentary lifestyle forced on us by auto-oriented infrastructure?

This episode of the podcast includes a couple of key aha moments in my career.


Death Squads are a thing

Remember when Americans were freaking out about the possibility that small panels of “experts” would decide who lives and who dies? People were right to challenge that idea. And yet, like so many other nuances of street design, Americans turn over life and limb to a small panel of “experts”.

Take some time to explore #VisionZero on Twitter.

  1. We know how to save human lives.
  2. We don’t challenge our elected leaders to do much about it.
  3. Professionals aren’t going to do what’s best for us if it means changing the status quo.


Code of Ethics Conformity

Transportation professionals swear to uphold a code of ethics. This is true for planners and engineers. But the industry doesn’t uphold a code of ethics. It acts in its own best interest – its professionals choose to follow a code of conformity.

Harsh words? Yes. Have proof? Yes, in the form of 30-40,000 dead Americans every year.

We won’t ever have infrastructure that promotes (much less allows) active living without making fundamental changes to the way street networks are planned and engineered. Anyone who tells you differently is probably a certified Death Squad professional.


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The Death and Life of Great American Cities: 50th Anniversary Edition | [Jane Jacobs, Jason Epstein (introduction)]