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Andrea

Danger in Exurbia

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I was reading the tragic report of Georgia traffic fatalities this weekend -- 25 deaths. One was in Atlanta, the rest were in smaller cities and rural or exurban areas.

This is in line with the research done by Dr. William Lucy at the University of Virginia. Dr. Lucy found that:

"Leaving home to go to work and other activities is more dangerous for residents of outer suburban areas than for many central city residents and for nearly all inner suburban residents, concludes a recent University of Virginia study.

From Baltimore to Minneapolis to Houston, some sparsely settled outer suburban counties are the most dangerous parts of their metropolitan areas, according to a study by William H. Lucy, professor of urban and environmental planning at U.Va., and graduate research assistant Raphael Rabalais. Their findings are contrary to the conventional wisdom that cities are dangerous and outer suburbs are safe."

http://www.virginia.edu/topnews/releases20...il-30-2002.html

Other findings from Dr. Lucy's reserach:

The study analyzed traffic fatalities and homicides by strangers to test the common belief that outer suburban areas with low-density housing and quasi-rural settings are safer places to live and raise children than cities and inner suburbs.

Potential dangers in any residential location arise from leaving home to travel to work, shop, attend school, attend church, visit friends, or go to civic functions and family gatherings. Tabulating traffic fatalities is the best method of measuring these dangers, the researchers concluded.

They also examined homicides by strangers, because they are the murders most likely to be associated with going about one’s routine business out of the home, and they may be related to proximity to dangerous areas. FBI data indicate, however, that only 17 percent of homicides grew out of felony circumstances, such as robberies and drug law violations, in 1999.

Instead, most homicides are committed by people who know each other. Some of these homicides, such as among family members, may occur inside the home, but they are not associated with intruders. Some homicides occur at work between co-workers. Some occur at friends’ and acquaintances’ residences, or between friends or acquaintances at places of entertainment. The rates of homicides by strangers were obtained from state police sources or, if these were not available, a national FBI estimate for the rate of homicides by strangers.

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^You can also add to the list social isolation in suburbia/exurbia, which can be a factor in mental depression and even suicide.

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^You can also add to the list social isolation in suburbia/exurbia, which can be a factor in mental depression and even suicide.

Gee, I would have guessed that depression and suicide occurred about equally everywhere. It's easy to be socially isolated in an urban area, as well as fully engaged in suburban and rural areas.

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Very true Andrea. New York can be one of the loneliest places on earth.

I have seen, or at least read commentry on, this report. Traffc fatalities in this country are staggaring. Approximately 500 people die on American roadways every day. That is the equivalant of a fully loaded passenger jumbo jet. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for infants and toddlers (I forget the actuall age ranges)

Stop and think about how callous we have become with regards to traffic fatalities. Every year the state DOT posts expected fatalities for holiday weekends, most recently the 4th of July. It's usually somewhere in the 25 to 35 range. We hear these numbers on the news and think. "Yeah, that sounds about right". We chalk it up as a cost of doing business. And for every death that occurs on our roads, how many are maimed? The cost to our healthcare system is enormous, forcing up premiums for all of us, car owner or not.

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Gee, I would have guessed that depression and suicide occurred about equally everywhere. It's easy to be socially isolated in an urban area, as well as fully engaged in suburban and rural areas.

The biggest factor that I've seen that I think is relative to depression and suicide is the weather, and not so much the degree of urbanization of an area. But when depression, social isolation, and suicide are linked to urbanization, it has more to do with neighborhood design (ie, sprawl).

Because of the pattern of sprawl, people are missing out on the significant health benefits that are available simply by walking, bicycling, climbing stairs, and getting physical activity as part of everyday life. Compared to people living in areas with higher density development, people living in sprawling places are likely to walk less and become physically inactive and overweight, which contributes to increased risk of many chronic diseases and conditions, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, colon cancer, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and other mental health problems, like anxiety and depression...

The

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The biggest factor that I've seen that I think is relative to depression and suicide is the weather, and not so much the degree of urbanization of an area. But when depression, social isolation, and suicide are linked to urbanization, it has more to do with neighborhood design (ie, sprawl).

Source

Most interesting article, krazeeboi, thanks. I agree with much of what they're saying, especially with regard to the negative health effects of not walking and/or biking. I'd also agree that kids can become isolated in the suburbs, although I think neighborhood design is probably only one of many factors. A lot of people in the suburbs do have highly active, socially engaged lives even though their interactions are often dependent upon the automobile. Many city dwellers aren't exactly the epitome of physical or emotional fitness.

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True on both counts. However, I think that two specific groups are left to fend for themselves in poorly designed, automobile-dependent suburbia: the young and the old--which the article pointed out. When walking is practically designed to be dangerous, one can expect much less social interaction at the local level. And walking is oftentimes the only mode of transportation the young and the old have in absence of automobiles (and even then, they may not be capable of driving them).

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