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Urban Land Institute says health-oriented city design is a win-win

by William Crum Published: December 10, 2013

The Urban Land Institute has begun an initiative to promote urban land-use and design principles that enhance public health, including “Ten Principles for Building Healthy Places.” Here’s a summary of the “Ten Principles;” for more, check out the Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Initiative.

Put people first. One of the strongest health/land-use correlations is between obesity and the automobile. Minimize auto dependence by mixing land uses and offering safe, convenient options for getting from place to place.

Recognize economic value. Higher property values, enhanced marketability, and quicker sales and leasing in compact, walkable, mixed-use communities benefit developers.

Partnerships for health. Encourage collaborations among those with a shared interest in healthy communities.

Shared spaces. “Living streets” that prioritize walking and cycling over cars, and public gathering places, mitigate declines in well-being and higher health costs associated with social isolation.

Easy access for health. Design spaces that promote safe, accessible, healthy activities.

Equitable access. Designs should promote healthy choices for all residents, regardless of income, and include housing options for all ages and “holistic” transit systems.

Mixed uses. Integrating residential, commercial, cultural and institutional uses is likely to create communities with a mix of incomes, ages, and options for walking or transit.

Unique character. Leveraging unique urban assets – waterfronts, historic neighborhoods – can promote physical activity and emotional well-being.

Healthy Food. Rethink the modern grocery store to make it more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians.

Active living. Use urban design to create an active community, for instance by installing adult exercise equipment near children’s playgrounds and by promoting bike sharing.

by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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