I would like to discuss a few simple thoughts about the value of cities for sustainability, for health and for well-being.
A Few Facts
This is an interesting Quote from an IBM publication by the former Mayor of Denver: Read
I think this slide summarizes many of my main points…contains key issues to think about and discuss.
A Key Point is that Places differ on many levels….and we need to ask how these differences matter for sustainability, health and well-being…FOR EXAMPLE
Many places ILLUSTRATE People Oriented Designs….THOSE….
Such Designed emphasize the pedestrian, the cyclist and/or Public Transportation
And expect that most of one’s daily needs will be attained without the use of an automobile.
Such urban design as present all over the world: Here we have Seoul, Korea
And Shoppe Street, Galway
Such designs also emphasize human interaction in Public Squares…..(NEXT)
Parks and Pitches or other publiic gathering places (including coffee shops, community centers, and pubs).
And of course, there are multiple ways to get from point A to B
London: The best cities also recognize that urban dwellers need quiet neighborhoods that provide a sense of control, comfort, and access to nature.
Yet also provide people and families access to all the city has to offer.
In the United States (and many places in Ireland) the Market-place (the town square!) looks more like this. A place you drive to and thru!
With a new emphasis on designing for the efficient movement of the automobile instead of for people.
And you can See this Design – often associated with traffic – all over the world as well! (China)
Also associated with Big Box retail Super Stores
And Loads of Parking
And cookie cutter housing estates that often lack character and access to community amenities.
I suppose this isn’t as ugly when you are driving at 70 KPH
What are the consequences of building and designing places around the automobile?
What are the consequences for Climate Change, for example?
This is a fascinating Webpage created by the Chicago based Center for Neighborhood Technology.
Car-Oriented Suburbs and counties produce far more CO2 per household. The city –per capita – is far better for the environment because there is less auto usage.
Really Interesting: When you COMBINE the cost of one’s home AND the Costs associated with driving the Suburban and county Model is FAR MORE expensive than most of us assume.
Design can also affect health on many levels…..(MOVE ON!)
Obesity in the States is epidemic. And it is a growing concern in countries like Ireland and the UK as well.
The benefits of being physically active on a regular basis are documented in thousands of studies. Physical activity can increase the life span while improving quality of life and can help prevent leading physical and psychological disorders. With health care costs continuing steep increases, the lower health care costs of active people is attracting more attention from policy makers.
Designs that emphasize the car instead of the pedestrian
The message is often clear. Don’t walk!
And in case you miss it…..
It is a problem that is also affecting our children
This change has a great deal to do with the places we live in and the way we design them
Close with a few thoughts about how we might begin to make cities more livable and attractive places…..there are many good models, but this particular insight comes from a 2008 survey of residents living in 10 international cities. The focus being on what they like and dislike about their cities. And how these attitudes affect their satisfaction with life in their cities and their individual happiness!
The survey compared residents in ten Cities…by the way the Swedes –or at least those living in Stockholm –turned out to be happier than most!
17nov theme session_screen4_leyden
The City Solution: HowThe City Solution: How
Making Cities Livable canMaking Cities Livable can
Address Climate ChangeAddress Climate Change
and Well-Beingand Well-Being
Kevin M. LeydenKevin M. Leyden
Research Professor of Social Science &Research Professor of Social Science &
Public PolicyPublic Policy
Centre for Innovation & Structural ChangeCentre for Innovation & Structural Change
J.E. Cairnes School of Business & EconomicsJ.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics
National University of Ireland, GalwayNational University of Ireland, Galway
We Are Becoming More UrbanWe Are Becoming More Urban
2008 marked a turning point in2008 marked a turning point in
historical settlement patterns; forhistorical settlement patterns; for
the first time in human history thethe first time in human history the
majority of us live in urban areas.majority of us live in urban areas.
This trend will continueThis trend will continue..
India, for example, is expected toIndia, for example, is expected to
build 500 new cities over the next 20build 500 new cities over the next 20
The City in the 21The City in the 21stst
““The 19The 19thth
Century was a century ofCentury was a century of
empires, the 20empires, the 20thth
century was acentury was a
century of nation states. The 21century of nation states. The 21stst
century will be a century of cities.”century will be a century of cities.”
Wellington E. Web, former Mayor of Denver, Colorado asWellington E. Web, former Mayor of Denver, Colorado as
quoted inquoted in A Vision for Smarter CitiesA Vision for Smarter Cities, published by IBM, published by IBM
The Future of the City: IssuesThe Future of the City: Issues
It is essential that we come to understand how to make cities and townsIt is essential that we come to understand how to make cities and towns
more livable, attractive places with a high quality of life. Our failure to domore livable, attractive places with a high quality of life. Our failure to do
so – in the U.S. - lead to the decline of many urban cores.so – in the U.S. - lead to the decline of many urban cores.
Cities and towns hold huge potential for combating Climate Change. CitiesCities and towns hold huge potential for combating Climate Change. Cities
and towns have smaller carbon footprints per capita. And they can beand towns have smaller carbon footprints per capita. And they can be
made far more efficient with green technologies and retrofits, renewablemade far more efficient with green technologies and retrofits, renewable
energy, smart metering, and pedestrian and transit-oriented planning.energy, smart metering, and pedestrian and transit-oriented planning.
We need to figure out how to enable people to age in place. Cities andWe need to figure out how to enable people to age in place. Cities and
towns need to be attractive places for families with children and thetowns need to be attractive places for families with children and the
elderly, for example.elderly, for example.
Urban design and planning has important implications for human healthUrban design and planning has important implications for human health
and well-being. We must gain a better understanding of issues ofand well-being. We must gain a better understanding of issues of
walkability, social connectivity, public places and access to nature in thewalkability, social connectivity, public places and access to nature in the
There is a need for research that examines how matters of urban design,There is a need for research that examines how matters of urban design,
transportation planning, and all types of urban public policy (e.g., housingtransportation planning, and all types of urban public policy (e.g., housing
policy, the support of cultural activities, crime-control and educationpolicy, the support of cultural activities, crime-control and education
policy) affect the attractiveness of places for creative people andpolicy) affect the attractiveness of places for creative people and
innovative firms).innovative firms).
Places DifferPlaces Differ
To what extend does Urban DesignTo what extend does Urban Design
and Transportation Planning affectand Transportation Planning affect
the Well-being of People and thethe Well-being of People and the
Time-tested urban and townTime-tested urban and town
planning designs that emphasizeplanning designs that emphasize
the importance of Mixed-Use andthe importance of Mixed-Use and
Pedestrian OrientedPedestrian Oriented
Neighborhoods with a UniqueNeighborhoods with a Unique
Sense of PlaceSense of Place
But for the last 50 years or soBut for the last 50 years or so
Many countries –not all- haveMany countries –not all- have
planned and built places that areplanned and built places that are
very different. Places that are largelyvery different. Places that are largely
planned by developers and areplanned by developers and are
oriented around roads and theoriented around roads and the
Too Car-Focused?Too Car-Focused?
There is now one car for every twoThere is now one car for every two
adults in Ireland, an increase of 62adults in Ireland, an increase of 62
percent since 1990.percent since 1990.
Source: Energy in Transport Trends and Influencing Factors, 2006. --Sustainable EnergySource: Energy in Transport Trends and Influencing Factors, 2006. --Sustainable Energy
In the United States there is approximately oneIn the United States there is approximately one
car for every adult. (car for every adult. (251 million251 million registeredregistered
passenger vehicles).passenger vehicles).
Source: US Bureau of Transit Statistics (2006)Source: US Bureau of Transit Statistics (2006)
The City Solution:The City Solution:
Climate Change and Carbon EmissionsClimate Change and Carbon Emissions
Health, Planning and the Built
Health Problems and costs
• Obesity and Inactivity
• Depression and Stress
• Social Isolation and the lack of
• Air and Water Pollution
Obesity Trends* Among U.S. Adults
BRFSS, 1990, 1999, 2009
(*BMI ≥30, or about 30 lbs. overweight for 5’4” person)
No Data <10% 10%–14% 15%–19% 20%–24% 25%–29% ≥30%
Benefits of Physical Activity
(30-40 minutes of walking a day)
• Life span increase: 2 years
• Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: 40% less
• Rates of High Blood Pressure and Diabetes:
• Risk of breast & colon cancer: Reduced
• Mood and mental health status: Improved
• Body Mass Index (BMI): Reduced
• Health care costs: $300-$400 less per year
• Cost: minimal
Surgeon General’s Report, 1996
There is clear evidence that
walking & cycling are good for
Yet in many cases we are
planning and engineering walking
out of our lives. A lot of it is
because we plan our
communities around the car.
Obesity in the U.S.
• Childhood obesity has more than tripled in
the past 30 years. The prevalence of
obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years
increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in
2008. The prevalence of obesity among
adolescents aged 12 to 19 years
increased from 5.0% to 18.1%
• Percent of
walk or bike to
• 1974: 66%
• 2000: 13%
"How happy are you now?"
4.20 4.20 4.13 4.07 3.96 3.92
3.78 3.76 3.71
Key Factors Explaining HappinessKey Factors Explaining Happiness
Good HealthGood Health
Job Opportunities/Cost of LivingJob Opportunities/Cost of Living
Marital StatusMarital Status
Feeling Connected to the PeopleFeeling Connected to the People
in Neighborhoodin Neighborhood
Opportunities to Volunteer InOpportunities to Volunteer In
Happiness: Additional VariablesHappiness: Additional Variables
Access to Culture and leisure facilitiesAccess to Culture and leisure facilities
such as movies, museums, concertsuch as movies, museums, concert
Access to LibrariesAccess to Libraries
Availability of convenient PublicAvailability of convenient Public
My city is a good place to rear andMy city is a good place to rear and
care for childrencare for children
Role of Life-cycleRole of Life-cycle
In many places we have turnedIn many places we have turned
our backs to the city or to townsour backs to the city or to towns
and village lifeand village life
Serious need to revitalize urban places.
We need to refocus our public policies on
making urban places more livable, healthy,
creative, and sustainable.
Part of that is to focus upon planning that
emphasizes pedestrian-oriented, mixed-
use zoning models with a sense of place