The more I go through life, the more I find that other people have very different experiences. But if you’re from middle America, or any major city, much of Nature you’ve seen in your adult life has been through a car window going somewhere else. And the traditional view of future cities has been a bigger and better version of the concrete jungle, like a bad SimCity where everyone lives in one area, commutes to work in another and goes shopping in a third.
A recent study found that more “walkable” neighborhoods bode well for the elderly, not merely for exercise and physical health, but also for their mental wellbeing. Specifically,
Berke speculates that walkable neighborhoods might be so important because they promote social connection and reduce isolation, a major predictor of depression. “If people are out walking to destinations, they run into each other”, he says. “And then they talk, or interact, or share ideas”. He adds that city streets with their shorter blocks, more direct routes, and greater number of intersections—can be more walkable than suburban ones. They also have greater population density, which increases the probability that people meet one another by chance.
This sort of connection between people in a neighborhood is something that has been lost in modern American cities and towns since the rise of the automobile and long-distance commuting became regular. At least, it’s something that I’ve seen and heard about, but have never actually experienced. But, with rising gas prices and actual debates going on about changing the way our cities grow, this is something that could impact our perception of futuristic cities.