Enough With The Suburban Sprawl: The Benefits Of A Walkable Urban Core
Many people have achieved the American dream: a house in the suburbs, a nice green yard, a white picket fence, and an attached garage with two nice cars. But as it turns out, the American dream is not so fabulous. The result of American’s flight from city living has resulted in sprawl-and lots of it. Those who’ve “escaped” to the suburbs often find that city living offers many advantages over life amidst the sprawl of suburbia.
Why Cities Make Sense
Cities are the most logical place to live, for the same reasons that cities developed in the first place. Ever since we stopped growing our own food, making our own clothes and educating our own children, we have relied on other people to do these things for us. We depend on our community for its stores, restaurants, schools, entertainment, and services (such as electricity, water, sewer and trash pickup). Rural living really only makes sense for the few “off the grid”, self-sufficient folks who have no need for these urban amenities.
City Living is Eco-Friendly
City living is beneficial in many ways. First, there is the matter of resource conservation. The stacked residences and commercial buildings typical of a city are much more environmentally friendly than the vast swaths of land required for suburbia’s detached homes and single level commercial structures. The city dweller is actually doing more to help the environment than the person who moves out to the suburbs to enjoy nature. The suburban person seeking a more “natural” environment is actually helping to displace and destroy the nature they claim to love.
Of course, city dwellers also conserve gasoline, that evil contributor to global climate change and our nation’s foreign oil dependency. The urban lifestyle is much more fuel efficient than the suburban. Cities with a walkable urban core allow their residents to eschew cars, since they can typically walk to wherever they might need to go. Even if they choose not to walk, city dwellers commonly use mass transit; a much more efficient alternative than the gas guzzling swarms of individual vehicles used by the commuting suburban population.
The Myth of the Dangerous City
But isn’t city living dangerous? You might be surprised to find out that overall, cities are the safest place to live. Yes, even if you are a pedestrian. Research has shown that city dwellers are less likely than their suburban counterparts to be killed or injured by traffic accidents or crime. Studies comparing urban versus suburban safety have shown that you are much more likely to die in a car crash if you live in suburbia than to die from any violent crime downtown. (There are also recent reports comparing urban versus suburban safety)
City dwellers also have greater access to educational and cultural opportunities. Living in the city makes it easy to visit a museum or attend a symphony, art exhibit, play or lecture. Vibrant urban centers boast a diversity of activities and people, typically not found in plain-vanilla areas of suburban sprawl. In general, a city dweller has many more opportunities to develop a well-rounded education and outlook- things that just might be more important to strive for than the flawed dream of that white picket fence in suburbia.