Long Commutes Kill People
Photo credit: Wyscan via Flickr/CC BY
Add this to Treehugger's perennial pitch that denser, walkable neighborhoods are not only more sustainable, but lead to generally improved lives: Commuting literally kills you. Slate's Annie Lowery has a brilliant piece on why long commutes aren't merely soul-crushing -- they're drivers of obesity, stress, and neck pain, too. Here's the takeaway:
Given the choice between that cramped apartment and the big house, we focus on the tangible gains offered by the latter. We can see that extra bedroom. We want that extra bathtub. But we do not often use them. And we forget that additional time in the car is a constant, persistent, daily burden--if a relatively invisible one.
Do not take it lightly. People who say, "My commute is killing me!" are not exaggerators. They are realists.
There's a reason that young home-buyers are flocking to communities where they can walk, bike, or take quick public transit hops to work (and everywhere else) -- it's simply a more pleasant way to live. As the brand of materialism that drove the generational push towards larger homes and exurban living fades away, at least among trend-setting young professionals, it's being replaced by a sort of wide-lens reexamination of what makes for an enjoyable existence.
And these things are pretty straightforward: Access to more social environments, more opportunities for organic physical exercise (walking, biking), and less time wasted sitting in traffic. Of course, these things encourage less consumption and pollution-emitting as well -- which is exactly why denser, walkable communities are a key to the future of sustainable human societies.
Read the whole piece on commuting over at Slate
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