Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash

Walkable and bikeable cities. I’ve been a bit obsessed with these recently, and for good reason. If there is a singular way to encourage people to be more physically active and encounter less heart disease and diabetes, this is it. 

By making cities more walkable and bikeable, which I’m going to refer to as wikeable (a new word I just made up), we can decrease pollution thereby decreasing lung cancer, asthma, and other lung diseases overall rates. 

By Increasing the # of steps required by each person to get their groceries, go to work, and be a part of the community, with less reliance on a car, increases everyone’s cardiovascular health and muscular health, we can reduce heart disease and diabetes risk. 

I.e. people live longer and healthier. Oh, and a side benefit to this is that there will be fewer traffic fatalities. Seems like a win-win-win for everyone involved. 

The current problem with this utopian view of cities is sprawl and choice. I won’t go on a long history lesson, but since 1950, we’ve been building primarily single-family homes, farther and farther away from city centers (because we could). 

This has led to the explosive growth of suburbs and a horrifying increase in traffic… I know, because I commuted for a year, back and forth from Pacific Grove to San Jose. Many audiobooks and podcasts were consumed during that time.

Thinking realistically of whether or not cities and people in suburbs would be okay with mini-urbanization seems nil, even though it would massively improve the housing crisis, there’d be more high-paying jobs, and cities would actually be profitable.

This post was a very abridged version of the whole story — basically, if you build mixed-use, (business + residential, 3-4 stories) in a city center and community, the community tends to prosper socially and financially. If you build suburbs, the cost of upkeep is much higher than the property taxes bring in. 

But Americans like our space, don’t we. I’m writing this from a suburb…

I’ll be interviewing some urban city planners and architects, as well as some politicians for my podcast in the next couple of months (hopefully), to get the full scoop on this story, stay tuned!