MLewyn's blog

Obesity,Sprawl and Poverty, Part 2

Last week, I blogged about the relationship between sprawl and poverty, using metro Atlanta as an example.  I showed that in Fulton and DeKalb Counties (the two most urban, transit-friendly counties in the region) the obesity rate was only slightly higher than the poverty rate, while in more suburban counties the obesity rate was MUCH higher than the poverty rate.

Health Impact Assessments and the Law

If you've gone to conferences addressing the relationship between public health and sprawl, you may have heard of something called a "health impact assessment."  If you are a little fuzzy on how this works out in practice, you may want to read a new article coauthored by Prof. Pamela Ko and the Dean of Touro Law Center, Patricia Salkin. (In the interests of full disclosure, I note that since I teach at Touro, Dean Salkin is my boss).

Why Highways Are Less Harmful In Parks Than On Urban Streets

When I read Robert Caro's The Power Broker (a biography of New York road-builder Robert Moses), one story that didn't quite make sense is Caro's discussion of the Henry Hudson Bridge. Caro writes that Caro's routing of this bridge caused "the destruction of Manhattan's priceless last forest" in Inwood Hill Park.  But I visited the park yesterday afternoon, and it didn't look at all "destroyed" to me.  Inwood Hill Park is still one of the jewels of Manhattan's park system, full of primeval-looking forest.

Tisha'b'Av and Urbanism

Monday night and Tuesday, observant Jews all over the world will be fasting for Tisha'b'Av, a day dedicated to remembering pretty much every major disaster befalling Jews over the past twenty centuries or so, or at least a few of the major ones- especially the destruction of the Jewish Temples by foreign invaders (Babylonians in 586 BC, Romans 656 years later).  What does this have to do with urbanism?

Another Way To Measure the Sprawl/Obesity Relationship

One dispute in the literature about sprawl and obesity is whether the impact of sprawl is significant compared to the impact of social class.  It could be argued that obesity is primarily a function of poverty and lack of education, rather than of automobile dependency.

Cities Just Can't Win With Some People

I just read an attack (or at least an expression of concern about) gentrifiation of urban neighborhoods in the New Geography blog; Cleveland blogger Richey Piiparinen complains that the people moving back to the city are mostly white, and that this is b

The Times' Attack on Gentrification: Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy

In a recent article entitled "Gentrifying Into the Shelters", the New York Times blamed homelessness on middle-class New Yorkers who dare to move into the city's poorer neighborhoods.

Learning from Seattle, Part 2: Streets

Normally, sidewalks in residential areas are surrounded by short planting strips with grass and (sometimes) street trees. But in Seattle recently I saw something interesting: a planting strip that I would guess is twice the size of a typical one.  I thought the king-size strip was a very nice touch in two ways.  First, it narrows the street and calms traffic.  Second, it beautifies the street.

Learning from Seattle: Transit

Before attending the Livable Cities conference in Portland, I am visiting Seattle for a few days.  As in Salt Lake City, there are some things I like and some I don't.

Seattle seems to have an extensive bus system.  Ideally, a bus system would give riders a way to pay without having to fumble for dollar bills and quarters- New York's metro card system comes to mind. 

Seattle has such a system; however, to get a metrocard you have to pay a $5 start-up fee- not exactly a tempting option for visitors and occasional users.

Neighborhood Character vs. Diversity

The conventional zoning wisdom is that all structures in a neighborhood should have the same density, in order to preserve "neighborhood character."  So even in mixed-use urban areas, this sort of zoning leads to a kind of monoculture: high-rises attract high-rises, low-rises attract low-rises.