Having, as a primary goal, walkability could directly affect the health of the population in your community. According to a recent study by Gillian Booth, 'the more 'walkable' the neighborhood you live in, the less likely you are to become obese or develop diabetes'.
The study looked at neighborhoods in southern Ontario over a 10 year period. In walkable neighborhoods, the obesity rate was 9% lower than average and the incidence of diabetes was 7% less. In less walkable neighborhoods, the rate of obesity was 13% higher.
According to the Bloomberg report on this study, 'as a society we've kind of engineered physical activity out of our lives' - apparently to our own detriment.
As Nashvillians know - we have an obesity problem. Biscuits, sweet tea, BBQ plus driving everywhere leads to a heavier set commonly seen. Our population is greater than 30% obese - slightly higher than the 30% obesity level across the US. These statistics do not seem to be going down anytime soon as the trend identified in the maps below show.
Obesity is now described as an epidemic. This is a significant drag on resources including health care dollars, quality of life, loss of productivity, etc. As Nashville moves forward, we need to focus hard on creating more walkable environments.
The cost of these health care needs, and I would argue quality of life issues, need to be considered when city planning takes into account the cost to create improved walkability.
In deed, it is very expensive to build sidewalks - but, consider the cost of not building them? According to Roger Miller, vice-president to Smart Growth America & Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, 'if you can do things with your built environment that allows people to be healthy there's a financial benefit - think of the cost of obesity'.
In 2005, the health-care costs of related to obesity cost Americans 21% of total health care dollars according to a 2012 study completed by Cornell researches.
The cost of basic sidewalk production in Nashville is $250 per linear foot (1' long x 5' wide).
Donate to The Sidewalk Foundation. Let's build a more walkable Nashville.
See us Saturday, July 19th at the Farmer's Market.