Suburban Remodel

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Not the house; the whole suburb.

Take it from one who grew up there, the suburbs need a radical makeover.

Study after study has shown that suburban residents walk less, bike less and are less physically fit than city dwellers. Their cars are parked adjacent to their homes and typically driven to within a few feet of their destinations. Their neighborhoods often lack sidewalks or other paths safe for pedestrians and bicycles. Entertainment facilities, workplaces and stores are so far from residences that a car often must be used. Even public transportation, where it exists, is usually too far from home for most people to reach on foot.

Our long-term energy woes clearly have their roots in the suburban lifestyle, but the concentration of bad loans and foreclosures in the outer-ring suburbs indicates that our current economic crisis may have sprouted from the same soil.

In fact, I see compelling evidence that the collapse of fringe drivable suburban markets was the catalyst for the Great Recession, and the lack of walkable urban development due to inadequate infrastructure and zoning is a major reason for the recovery’s sluggishness.

With half of the population residing in the suburbs, it seems clear that we won't make much progress in energy efficiency, health, or improving our general quality of life without reconfiguring our suburban infrastructure. --B.D.S.



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