Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sometimes a simple statistic about a simple thing tells you an awful lot... (Blog Post No. 2014-2)

Friend and colleague Wendy Landman, executive director of WalkBoston here in the old Hub o' the Universe, recently pointed me to a Cities Blog piece from The Atlantic to the effect that In the U.S., a quick walk to the store is a rare thing indeed. Intuitively, anyone who gives the question any thought really shouldn't be surprised at what WalkScore found: even in cities with over 500,000 residents, the vast majority in America do not live anywhere close to the studied metric of a 5 minute walk from home to a store selling fresh produce. So given over have we been to motordom for really the last century that it's almost a shock that there's still anyplace -- outside of usual exception New York (which checks in at 72%) -- where more than half of the housing stock is that close to fresh produce. But San Francisco (59%) and Philadelphia (57%) make it, with a cluster of cities in the 40s, led by your blogspondent's home city making it to 4th on the list at 45%. From there, it gets ugly, and Indianapolis rates as the least walkable on this measureat at just 5%.

As this weblog has said before, to live in the United States over the last 100 years has been to be the subject of a massive social experiment to see what happens to people and their environments when physical activity -- especially walking -- is squeezed out of their every day routines. It has been systematic, it has been ruthless, and we've all been affected. One of the key benefits of the ultimate demise of motordom will simply be the chance for increasing numbers of us to access things like the fixings for a salad without being forced into our vehicles.

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