On the plus side: you'll never wear out a pair of shoes in a post-WWII suburb:
Car-loving Charlotte, N.C., home to strip malls and suburban sprawl, did everything right when putting in place its new light-rail transit system called the Lynx in 2007. The result: a ridership that doubled predictions, and an unexpected public health study that may be the first in proving that the built environment causes obesity.
Riding the rails can leave users an average of 6.5 pounds lighter than others, and 81 percent less likely to become obese over time, according to the study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Before this study, it was difficult to say for certain whether the features of the built environment, such as sprawl and miles of roadway, are directly responsible for obesity and related illness such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
In its first year, at the peak of the gasoline price rise, Charlotte's Lynx saw about 18,100 riders, which was double the number expected, said Robert Stokes, researcher at University of Pennsylvania's department of culture and communication, and co-author of the study. The numbers have maintained. The city did all the right things when putting in place the light-rail system, Stokes said. It chose to put the line close to places where people lived, which increases ridership, according to studies. The corridor stretches 9.6 miles and has 15 stops.
Charlotte also changed its zoning laws to allow development closer to rail stations, and a greater concentration of units. It was a policy change, said Stokes. Since World War II, zoning laws in the nation promoted a separation between commercial, residential and recreational land use in the built environment, leading to more sedentary lifestyles. About half of all Americans do not get enough physical activity to promote health, and about 25 percent do not get any exercise at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2007 statistics.
Read the rest at: Study Links Sprawl, Obesity - NYTimes.com