10,000 Steps and Smarter Growth
March 2nd, 2004 by Tim Evans
- A popular fitness program originating in Japan recommends taking 10,000 steps a day. That’s equivalent to a five-mile walk, depending on your stride, with steps counted by a waistband pedometer.
- Such exercise comes more naturally in “mixed-use” communities, where stores, schools, offices and homes all lie within walking distance of each other. These communities also have in general the lowest rates of automobile ownership, in part because their density makes other transit options feasible.
- In urban Hudson County, where the majority of communities are mixed-use, more than a third (35.1 percent) of households have no car, the highest percentage of zero-car households in New Jersey. Urban Essex County is second in zero-car households, at 25.4 percent.
- In contrast, rural and suburban counties are more limited in walkable destinations and transit options, and are many times more auto-dependent. In Hunterdon, Sussex and Morris counties, roughly a quarter of all households have three cars or more: Hunterdon 25.6 percent, Sussex 22.4 percent and Morris 20.7 percent.
(Source: US Census data)
WALKABLE COMMUNITIES A BENEFIT OF SMART GROWTH
“More options” is one bottom-line benefit of smart growth, and that’s especially evident when it comes to getting around.
Communities having the hallmarks of smart growth (mixed-use development, pedestrian-friendly, placing new growth with or near existing infrastructure), are also places that can offer a host of options for travel: car, bike, bus, train, as well as simple walking.
These places tend to boast more options on other fronts, too: more choice of housing, from apartments and small bungalows to large single-family homes; and more range in affordability of housing, too.
Smart growth communities encourage the kind of options Americans once took for granted in their communities. And when you can walk to school, stores, the evening’s entertainment or even work, you have the option of a healthier lifestyle and a natural way to reach 10,000 steps.