Where you live matters in almost every way imaginable, and there’s now more evidence that your location impacts your mental health. We now know that what has been colloquially known is now provably true: rates of depression are higher in suburban communities than elsewhere. Of course, you’re probably thinking that the rural lifestyle is that one that provides the best mental health, but what you probably don’t realize that urban living is also really good for you. So if you’re living in an in between sub-urban and sub-rural area and not feeling great than maybe you should move out the country or in to the city.
We think the relative higher risks of depression found in sprawling, low-rise suburbs may be partly down to long car commutes, less public open space and not high enough resident density to enable many local commercial places where people can gather together, such as shops, cafes and restaurants. But of course, there may be many other factors, too.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t potential benefits to living in the suburbs. Some people may in fact prefer privacy, silence and having their own garden.
We hope that this study can be used as a basis for urban planning. The study provides no support for the continued expansion of car-dependent, suburban single-family housing areas if planners want to mitigate mental health issues and climate change.
Bike lanes not only protect cyclists from negligent drivers, they protect drivers and pedestrians too. A longitudinal study reveals that it’s not the cyclists which make the streets safer, rather it’s the infrastructure that separates cyclists from giant metal slabs that matter. Bike lane only made of paint did nothing to change the dangers of driving; rather, physical barricades protecting people from cars are what make the difference.
It’s simple: protected bike lanes = a safer city.
After analyzing traffic crash data over a 13-year period in areas with separated bike lanes on city streets, researches estimated that having a protected bike facility in a city would result in 44 percent fewer deaths and 50 percent fewer serous injuries than an average city.
In Portland, where the population of bike commuters increased from 1.2 to 7 percent between 1990 and 2015, fatality rates fell 75 percent in the same period. Fatal crash rates dropped 60.6 percent in Seattle, 49.3 percent in San Francisco, 40.3 percent in Denver, and 38.2 percent in Chicago over the same period as cities added more protected and separated lanes as part of their Vision Zero plans.
Like the rest of the world, the United Nations is looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and they’re projecting what our future may hold. The UN sees a consistent theme of ecological thinking as a way for cities to succeed in all the sustainable development goals. Most people live in cities, and in those urban settings people can see the clear interaction between societal forces like governments, commerce, the built environment, and so on. As a result, if we focus on making our cities sustainable and a wonderful place to live then the whole world can benefit.
Theâ€¯report explores how well-planned cities combining residential and commercial with public spaces, along with affordable housing, can improve public health, the local economy and the environment.
Itâ€¯calls for cities to be at the forefront of moves towards a Social Contract between governments, the public, civil society and private sector.
Theâ€¯new social contractâ€¯shouldâ€¯â€œexplore the role of theâ€¯state and cities to finance universal basic income, universal health insurance, universal housingâ€,â€¯said Sharif.
For one real-world example, Claudia Lopez Hernandez, Mayor of Bogota, explained how in the Colombian capital, their new social contract prioritises women and children.
It is aâ€¯â€œsocial contract that includes women, that provides them with time, with time to take care of themselves, with time to educate themselves, and with time and education skills to come back to the labour marketâ€.
â€œTo have self-sustainable women is to have self-sustainable societiesâ€,â€¯Hernandez explained.
Paris is showing the world the future (their present) of good urban design, and it’s all about 15 minutes. We’ve looked at this concept before, and every year Paris pushes us further. The city has already reduced their reliance on automobiles and increased mobility for the entire populace. They’ve added green space and now since the pandemic hit they’ve accelerated their plans to make the entire city a good place to live. The core concept for all of this is that everything a person needs should be a 15 minute walk from their house.
â€œWe know sometimes large cities can be tiring and can create a sense of anonymity,â€ says Rolland. â€œBut proximity means that we will, through our social links, rediscover our way of living in cities. We want open spaces, but ones for doing nothing in particular, where people can meet each other or encounters can happen as much as possible. We live better when we live together, and this will rework our social fabric.â€
The transformation of neighbourhoods has been well underway since Hidalgo took office in 2014, with the Paris mayorÂ banningÂ high-polluting vehicles,Â restrictingÂ the quays of the Seine to pedestrians and cyclists, and creating mini green spaces across the city â€“ since 2018, more than 40 Parisian school grounds have beenÂ transformedÂ into green â€œoasis yardsâ€. More than 50km of bike routes known as â€œcoronapistesâ€ have also been added since the pandemic struck and last month renovation of the Place de la Bastille wasÂ completedÂ as part of a â‚¬30m redesign of seven major squares. Hidalgo hasÂ pledgedÂ a further â‚¬1bn euros ($1.2bn, Â£916m) per year for the maintenance and beautification of streets, squares and gardens.
Traffic is the worst and when people start to regularly work from offices we are bound to see an abundance of traffic. Nobody wants this, yet for the last century we’ve been building our cities and suburbs to cause traffic instead of alleviating it. This past year as the need for outdoor space in cities has increased we’ve seen cities reimagine our streets (not in Toronto though, but elsewhere). People are seeing the benefits of designing cities for people who live there instead of designing for car domination of the public realm.
What about traffic though? Inevitably we’ll need to get around again in the future. This is the next step. Most people don’t need a car (they just think they do) for most of their trips, let’s give people multiple options to get around instead of just one!
Micromobility technology, by contrast, is evolving as fast as fruit flies. As Anthony Townsend notes inGhost Road, the dockless bike operator LimeBike â€œput no fewer than nine versions of its flagship bike into service during its first year and a half of operation,â€ while scooter company VeoRide, he notes, can transform a new idea into â€œon-street hardware in 15 days.â€
And yet for all the flurry of micromobility activity, the state ofmacromobilityâ€”which in the US means the carâ€”has changed little, and in some ways is going backward. â€œThe curb weight [of vehicles] is higher than itâ€™s ever been, and these are the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade,â€ says Greg Lindsay, director of applied research at New Cities, an urbanist think tank. â€œThe OEMsâ€”who donâ€™t seem to be particularly financially healthyâ€”have basically hooked the earth on these extremely expensive vehicles. Itâ€™s like the SUV boom has happened against the backdrop of this supposed mobility revolution.â€