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Do `walkable` neighbourhoods really get people walking?

Washington: Scientists are trying to determine if designing walk-friendly neighbourhoods can really encourage people to walk more and ditch the car.

Researcher Marianne Clark in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation interviewed 17 stakeholders in neighbourhood development, including public health and municipal employees, city councillors, and private sector stakeholders including land developers and food retailers.

"We asked about their definition of a healthy neighbourhood. What they thought their role was; what facilitated their efforts to build healthy neighbourhoods and what barriers they experienced," says Clark.

She found that while developers believe that it’s up to an individual whether he or she wanted to walk regardless of the design of the neighbourhood, municipal employees and public health officials believed deeply in the value of these neighbourhoods.

The convenience of driving, space availability and cold climate of a place are all factors that contribute to the all-pervasive car culture.

"When we look at this issue, though, we need to look at the broader societal issues. We may be naïve to think that if we build these great neighbourhoods that everything’s going to change and everyone`s going to starting walking more and be more healthy," says Clark.

ANI

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