PBS is airing an intriguing series called Designing Healthy Communities. I watched the first episode, “Retrofitting Suburbia,” and found it both depressing and hopeful. The diabetes and childhood obesity statistics are disturbing, but the solutions being developed in some cities are inspiring.
Dr. Richard Jackson, pediatrician and former director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Center for Disease Control, hosts the series, which connects obesity-related health problems with poor community planning.
Metro Atlanta is featured prominently in the “Retrofitting Suburbia” episode. Jackson lived in the area while at the CDC and discovered first hand the problems related to sprawl and car-centric development.
“The average employed Atlantan drives 66 miles a day,” Dr. Jackson says during the segment that focuses on our metropolis. He also notes that Atlanta is one of the ten most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the United States.
Although metro Atlanta is presented as a cautionary tale, the city is also lauded for some of its efforts to retrofit obsolete infrastructure, including the re-purposing of a shopping center in Smyrna, the Atlantic Station development, and the Beltline.
After watching the first episode, my thoughts turned to Tucker. Have the streetscape improvements on Main Street inspired you to park the car and walk around the area a bit?
If not, what would lead you to do so? Do events like weekly farmers markets, with the opportunity to buy healthy, fresh food, have a role to play? What are we missing that might lead to healthier, more active lifestyles, not just in Tucker but also in the suburbs in general? Tell us in the comments below-