Episode One: Sprawlanta
Dr. Howard Frumkin is Special Assistant to the Director for Climate Change and Health at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. The following interview is an excerpt from our conversation with Dr. Frumkin during production for Episode #1 of American Makeover.
AM: How does community design impact different age groups - the young, the elderly, etc.?
FRUMKIN: One of the special things about community design is that not all of us are equally susceptible to the risks that we are looking to control and not all of us will benefit equally from the advantages that flow from community design; but across the lifespan almost all of us can benefit from good community design. Let’s look at the different groups and how they might respond to healthy community design. Children need the opportunity to be active and independent and safe. Good pedestrian infrastructure, good sidewalks and bicycle trails that are separated from traffic and that are easily navigated are an important asset for children. At the other end of the lifespan, are the elderly. Many elderly people can't drive or shouldn't drive and that means that they will benefit from destinations that are close to where they live and from good pedestrian infrastructure that will help them get from home to the doctor's office or to the library or to the church. People with disabilities may not be able to drive and certainly benefit from good well-markedl, safe pedestrian infrastructure. People who are poor and can't afford to buy cars need to rely on transit and need to rely on pedestrian infrastructure. Putting those attributes in place is an act of social justice because it helps people who are poor to be able to get where they need to go, find economic opportunities, seek healthcare and do the other things they need to do. So for all of these subpopulations in our society and more health community design offers very important benefits.