A recently released study published in the Journal of Transport and Health confirms what other studies and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have known for a long time: How we plan, design and build our communities and neighborhoods significantly impacts our health. More compact and connected streets produce more walking and biking. In turn, more walking and biking produces better health.
We have an obesity epidemic in America, and here in Hawai'i. This is due in part to poor community planning. Obesity is the cause of many diseases that are debilitating as well as costly, negatively impacting quality of life for all--particularly our children. Diabetes and heart disease are among them.
Despite this knowledge, we still have a county government supporting and approving projects that are automobile-centric, disconnected and lacking in appropriate infrastructure, such as neighborhood schools children can reach on foot or bike.
This is certainly the case in North Kihei, where the county recently approved A&B's affordable housing project that will isolate residents in a long cul-de-sac having no connection to the broader community except by way of a high-speed state highway, and completely lacking in access to a nearby elementary school.
It doesn't have to be this way. But it will continue so long as county leadership only pays lip service to sustainability and smart growth, while continuing to approve automobile-centric urban sprawl. We can do better and we deserve better.
Get out and vote for candidates who will bring change.