More People, Less Parking; Fewer Cars, Longer Life

There has been an increasing focus in Connecticut and nationwide on walkable cities, transit oriented development, the imperative for more people and less parking, and the impact of redesigned streets on public safety. Among the initiatives are the iQuilt plan in Hartford, and the efforts of the New Haven Urban Design League.  The League hosted UConn's Norman Garrick, a leader in the field,  in a public session where he highlighted comparisons to Cambridge, where transit has been emphasized with good result - less so in Connecticut's major cities.  (For example, the proportion of Hartford’s land covered by parking jumped from 3.1 percent in 1960 to 8.4 percent in 2000.) Hartford's Real Art Ways brought in the recent documentary film Urbanized, which pointed out that 50 percent of the world's population now lives in cities, with that number expected to climb to 70 percent within a few decades.  (Note that Connecticut's major cities increased in population during the past decade.)

Dr. Richard J. Jackson of UCLA recently pointed out that "People who walk more weigh less and live longer."  As a result of the restructuring of cities within the past fifty years, placing the perceived needs of cars over pedestrians and cyclists, he said that without dramatic changes "people in the current generation (born since 1980)will be the first in America to live shorter lives than their parents do."