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Then there's the environmental aspect. When people like their neighborhood, they're going to be a lot more likely to take care of it -- keep it clean, plant trees. And when you can walk places -- the grocery store, the library, the dry cleaner -- you drive less. The average American household now takes, what, 15 separate car trips a day. If you could reduce that to maybe five, then you've made a big difference in global warming, in oil supplies.
Then there's the way we raise our children. I think so many kids live under a form of house arrest these days -- they can't do anything or go anywhere without being driven there. So when a neighborhood is safe and walkable, as important as that is for adults, it's even more important for children.
Q What neighborhoods do you like in the Twin Cities?
A One of my favorite neighborhoods is St. Anthony Park in St. Paul. You can meet most of your daily and weekly needs, psychic needs as well as physical needs, without having to leave the neighborhood. They've got a great library, a nice coffee shop, a nice bookstore, Muffuletta, a nice little wine shop, a gas station, some churches. If you had to get in car for every one of those trips, you'd spend a lot more time driving and have a lot more stress and probably weigh five pounds more.
Then there's the Lyndale neighborhood. They started the Lyndale Walkers a few years ago -- just a group of friends who would go out for a walk every evening. They weren't vigilantes or the Guardian Angels. But they kept an eye on things and took cell phones, and they'd call the police if they saw anything amiss. Before long the crime rate went way down and property values went up. Plus, they had some pretty nice evening strolls.
Dave Hage firstname.lastname@example.org
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.