The value of a pair of shoes and a bike are increasing faster than ever before.

Ever since the 1970’s, American cities have struggled with the changing landscape of the transition from the industrial to post-industrial, knowledge-based economies and the ‘flight’ of people, wealth, and the associated tax base.  During that same period, American obesity has increased at a staggering rate.  Coincidence?

Given the renewed attention on healthy food choices, by now, most of us have seen the studies that show American’s collective problems with health and weight.  Our median Body Mass Index (BMI) is #1 (highest) in high income countries – not a good first place stat to boast about.  So, could architecture, development & urban planning be partly to blame…or credit for a fix?

Ever since the early part of the 20th century, Americans witnessed dramatic changes to the built environment as cities began to develop around automobiles.  People pushed further & further outside of town to afford more land & build their new dream homes, and as a result, cities grew by land mass, streets became wider, asphalt & concrete paved over prairies, people drove further, sat longer in traffic, walked less, and unknowingly lost time moving.

Let’s set the record straight, architects and planners are not health care professionals…and this article has by no means exhausted the research necessary to tie a connection with development growth patterns and weight, but…for the sake of simple thought, could there be a relationship between urban development shifts and health over time?

In recent years, more and more people are moving back to urban areas and taking back the cities that were abandoned over time.  Most studies attribute the return to urban areas around walkability and access to transit or proximity to cultural or entertainment destinations.  For a professional service provider, or anyone else that understands their own value of time, reductions in commute time also weigh into personal decisions that are contributing to the renaissance in urban revitalization.  

Pedestrian-oriented cities with choices for transit (motorized & non-motorized) show faster growth, higher demand, and stronger real estate values than places that haven’t changed with the times.  Now more than ever, our local and regional municipalities need to continue, or start, to invest in walkable, bikeable, pedestrian-oriented, sustainable & safe environments for the future.  For the growing wearable fitness tracking society, it’s worth it in more ways than one.

Bike Lanes


Who knows…with more urban focus and growth, maybe we’ll start to see the collective American BMI decrease.

The power of positive thinking.