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Stymied By Sprawl

People’s views of high-density cities are of dirty, unhealthy places, but the large energy expenditures and driving hours required to live in the suburbs make this not quite so. The data on LA pleasantly surprised me, but I don’t believe it yet indicates a reversing trend of more unhealthy suburban sprawl.

The Dish

A recent study (pdf) ranked Atlanta as the nation’s most sprawling metro area. New York, unsurprisingly, was the most compact:

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 11.05.19 AM

Sarah Goodyear explains why the report matters:

Residents of more sprawling regions were stuck with fewer transportation options and higher combined costs of housing and transportation, despite higher housing costs in more compact cities. An average household in the San Francisco metro area (a national leader in terms of density, with a score of 194.1) spends 46.7 percent of its budget on combined housing and transportation. In Tampa, Florida, which scores a dismal 98.5, that proportion is 56 percent.

Residents of compact metro areas also have longer, healthier lives, with lower BMIs, lower blood pressure, lower rates of diabetes, and fewer car crash fatalities. An average American in a more compact county has a life expectancy three years longer than one in a less compact county. All these are observations…

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