USA Today - Military planners want to make bases worldwide more walkable
New Urbanism has reached a new type of community in its attempt to promote healthy, walkable places: military bases. The traditionally auto-centric suburban design of bases is clearly inefficient, where thousands of empty parking spaces are common, and the overall developed area is equivalent to the physical footprint of Wal-Mart Stores. To combat this, eariler this week the Department of Defense laid plans to focus on compact, transit-oriented developments for its bases to improve quality of life for those residents.
USA Today reported on this, citing deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Dorothy Robyn, who was quoted as saying the current design of bases is set to be, “very sprawling, very auto-centric. You have to have a car to get around.” By implementing new, walkbale development patterns, the DoD is “about doing things more efficiently...We think it will improve quality of life, but for us it’s also about doing our jobs better.”
The new strategies are already being practiced at a base in Fort Hood, Texas, facilitated by a new Master Plan for the military installations that outlines the benefits of TOD’s - reduced traffic congestion and accident rates, increased bike and pedestrian commuters, and most importantly, increased connectivity throughout the community. Connectivity is essential, and mirrors the efforts of CNU's Health District initiative to improve resident quality of life and increase the utility of public health through effective design. The new direction of the DoD is a step forward for healthier, safer, and more accessible communities that should be used as a model for future developments.
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