Backdoor Neighbors Have to Drive 7 Miles to Shake Hands

Readers – I just had a great time in Vancouver, where I gave a speech inaugurating the International Children’s Festival’s new “PEP Talk Series.” While there I met a lot of Free-Rangers who were very inspiring, including journalist/”urban experimentalist” Charles Montgomery, whose Happy City book will be coming out this fall. Among other things, it examines something we talk about here: How people are happier when they connect with their neighbors and neighborhoods. That’s true for adults and for kids. Think of your own childhood — wasn’t at least part of it spent in a swarm?

One impediment to spontaneous, outdoor meeting/greeting/playing is simply a lack of city planning. Or at least, a lack of planning that prioritizes helping people connect.  it’s hard for a group of kids to meet up at the park, if it’s across a major access road with few stop lights and a sea of cars.

How bad can it get? Charles shared this amazing story — really, just two maps — from the blog PriceTags. The first map shows two ADJACENT HOUSES. The second  shows the route the inhabitants would have to drive, if they wanted to shake hands. Left me shaking my head. – L.

Who knew this could take a quarter tank of gas?

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