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Thread: Barack Obama: Healthy Places Act (and other candidates' planning-related proposals)

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Barack Obama: Healthy Places Act (and other candidates' planning-related proposals)

    In the past, we Cyburbians have complained that presidential candidates almost never had an urban agenda; issues affecting the built environment were just not on the radar screen.

    Reading Barack Obama's campaign Web site, I noticed this item:

    Fostering Healthy Communities

    How a community is designed -- including the layout of its roads, buildings and parks -- can have a huge impact on the health of its residents. For instance, nearly one-third of Americans live in neighborhoods without sidewalks and less than half of our country's children have a playground within walking distance of their homes. This lack of a safe place to walk and play is a major contributor to the growing numbers of overweight children. Senator Obama introduced the Healthy Places Act to help state and local governments assess the health impact of new policies or projects, whether it is a new highway or shopping center. Once the health impact is determined, the bill gives grant funding and technical assistance to help address potential health problems.
    What do you think? Are there any other candidates that seem to be addressing the built environment in their agenda?

    Moderator note:
    Let's keep this on-topic, and prevent it from turning into a politics thread.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    What Obama states sounds all nice and rosy, but in my effort to keep this on-topic and from becoming a politics thread, if state, local and/or federal government officials allowed us to be planners in the first place, there wouldn't be this shortage. Coming from municipal practice, it's always the elected officials short-changing the community by waiving these subdivision requirements to accommodate the developers.

    The lack of sidewalks would hardly impact a child's weight. When growing up, I "walked the streets" with my friends instead of the sidewalks almost all of the time. Having five-foot wide sidewalks and walking in four rows of three never provided good dialogue between everyone. And who liked to walk in the back "of the pack"?

    And what is "walking distance"? To some people, it's two blocks. Our community has one of the best park systems in the state and wherever I have lived, I have been no closer than 6-7 blocks from a neighborhood or community park. If it seemed too far, we rode our bicycles. And then locked our bikes to fences, railings, light poles and trees. Then came the long slotted bike racks, followed by the hitching-post bike racks.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I'd have to agree with Illi planner, my neighborhood has sidewalks everywhere, but no kid would be seen walking on them. Why? It was actually safer to walk in the streets as it gave you running room and allowed for faster reaction time should you get jumped.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I grew up in rural SW Michigan without sidewalks or parks. I only mention that because the aforementioned statistic doesn't say how neighborhood was defined. Needless to say, we walked in the street or rode our bikes too. Now I live in the massively concreted DFW metroplex. More people seem to walk in air-conditioned malls than outside. Does that mean that shopping centers are better for your health than city parks? Developers will be happy to hear that!

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    I don't think everyone is looking at the whole picture. First of all, don't just think of residential streets, think of the highway like streets that often bound modern subdivisions...do you expect children to walk in the road there? No, they need sidewalk and bike lanes. Also, it's not just an issue of having them there, it's an issue of them being safe places where people feel comfortable. You don't want to have to worry about your reaction time if you get jumped...because you aren't going to get jumped if the place is safe.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by IlliniPlanner View post
    What Obama states sounds all nice and rosy, but in my effort to keep this on-topic and from becoming a politics thread, if state, local and/or federal government officials allowed us to be planners in the first place, there wouldn't be this shortage. Coming from municipal practice, it's always the elected officials short-changing the community by waiving these subdivision requirements to accommodate the developers.

    The lack of sidewalks would hardly impact a child's weight. When growing up, I "walked the streets" with my friends instead of the sidewalks almost all of the time. Having five-foot wide sidewalks and walking in four rows of three never provided good dialogue between everyone. And who liked to walk in the back "of the pack"?

    And what is "walking distance"? To some people, it's two blocks. Our community has one of the best park systems in the state and wherever I have lived, I have been no closer than 6-7 blocks from a neighborhood or community park. If it seemed too far, we rode our bicycles. And then locked our bikes to fences, railings, light poles and trees. Then came the long slotted bike racks, followed by the hitching-post bike racks.
    Its essentially making do with what you have isnt it- with children- where there is a will (or a park/adventure) there is a way!

    Im not saying that sidewalks aren't neccessary... just saying that you cannot relate lack of footpaths to unhealthy and overweight kids
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

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    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by natski View post
    Im not saying that sidewalks aren't neccessary... just saying that you cannot relate lack of footpaths to unhealthy and overweight kids
    Yes, but without them you make it far less likely. Here's the way I look at it. With sidewalks, people may walk. Without them, they definitely won't --- or if they do, they'll be in the street. What is one of the first things they teach you and that you parents nag about? Don't play in the street !!! Don't walk in the Street !!! So what good is this advice without an alternative?
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by natski View post
    Its essentially making do with what you have isnt it- with children- where there is a will (or a park/adventure) there is a way!

    Im not saying that sidewalks aren't neccessary... just saying that you cannot relate lack of footpaths to unhealthy and overweight kids
    No kidding take away the video games and the sugar filled snacks!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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