Public safety

Bad call: Wide streets in the name of fire safety

Fire officials often push for wider streets so that their biggest trucks can move more swiftly — but the wider streets lead to more deaths and injuries. They do this, supposedly, in the name of safety.

Good news on sprawl: It doesn't increase heart disease

Bad news: Traffic fatalities, cost of living, upward mobility, body mass index, obesity, physical activity, life expectancy, high blood pressure, diabetes.

Health and smart growth: Safety tops obesity

There are two primary fronts in the healthy communities movement — safety and obesity. A stronger emphasis on safety is more likely to succeed with citizens and public officials.

No child left outside

A report details the mental health consequences for children of spending less time playing on their own. A mom in Texas was arrested for letting her kids play outside. The built environment is partly to blame.

The inspiring story of Hamburg, NY

An Upstate New York village defied the Department of Transportation and created a human-scale Main Street, restoring community to a downtrodden downtown.

The tragedy of the cul-de-sac

A new study provides more confirmation that violent and accidental deaths of all kinds are more common in suburban and rural areas. The primary cause: Automobile accidents.

Homicide charges dropped for Georgia woman, cause celebre for pedestian activists

Raquel Nelson pays a jaywalking fine, but the task of making pedestrian-hostile suburbs like Marietta walkable has just begun.

Zoning matters for urban crime, study suggests

A study of 205 blocks in high-crime areas of Los Angeles suggests that increasing residential zoning in blocks that are otherwise zoned for commercial can reduce crime. The study, published in the February issue of University of Pennsylvania Law Review, finds that city blocks zoned exclusively for residential uses, as well as those zoned for residential and commercial (mixed) uses have less crime than blocks that are zoned solely for commercial use. The research shows that single-use commercially zoned blocks have expected crime rates that are about 45 percent higher than blocks with residential uses mixed in.

How about schools on safe routes?

A program to build Schools on Safe Routes would not only be more intelligent, it would be more effective and far cheaper.

Transit-oriented development resistant to Sandy

Arverne-by-the-Sea, on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, surprised many residents by its resilience to Superstorm Sandy. While many nearby neighborhoods were heavily damaged or destroyed, the new urban Arverne, one of the largest current developments in New York City, was little damaged. Conservation of protective dunes and a heavy-duty drainage system were design factors in resilience of the project, designed by Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn, now called EE&K, a Perkins Eastman Company. See the article in the January-February 2013 issue of Better! Cities & Towns.

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