I read an article in Fast Company today titled, Your Neighborhood is Why You’re Fat by Ben Schiller. It cuts to a core truth about the connection between urban sprawl and U.S. society’s increasing girth.
Tulsa has a new comprehensive plan, huge community momentum for growth and change, and active revitalization of our urban core. Exciting, but we must also accept the fact of our suburban sprawl.
The suburbs will continue to be where the majority of our population lives and works for many decades to come.
Our neighborhoods outside of Downtown and Midtown can benefit from increased residential density – more people needing more goods and services, closer to home. There are still holes in the suburban landscape where more dense residential development can occur. It’s not more “rooftops” that help businesses thrive, it’s more people. Where more people are concentrated into tighter communities, goods and services can be located where they are accessible without getting in the car.
As we move from these early days of PLANiTULSA and new zoning strategies into a more mature period of real estate development under our new paradigms, my hope is that developers find it profitable to create complete (sub)urban centers that are walkable and accessible without such a heavy reliance on cars.
The sprawl we have created over several generations contributes directly to unhealthy lifestyles. While we are definitely making significant improvements to our health and fitness, check any list of fattest cities, unhealthiest states, etc., and Tulsa, Oklahoma still has quite a way to go.
There are many great efforts like Saint Francis Tulsa Tough professional bicycling event and Route 66 Marathon that lead the way and inspire the community. Those are awesome examples that have literally changed lives.
But fitness and healthy lifestyles come from personal choices, made each and every day, or sometimes each hour of each day. Each of us must find our own way to commit to making healthy weight and overall fitness for life a personal priority. Walking and simply being moderately active outdoors for an hour each day can make all the difference. You can do that no matter where you live.