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When Susan Handy moved to Davis, Calif., in 2002, she immediately bought a commuting vehicle: a wheeled trailer, for toting her kids behind her bike. Handy, an environmental policy analyst at the University of California, and her husband frequently pedal to work, with two preschoolers in tow. Among locals, their commute is common. Fifty miles of bike lanes ribbon Davis, which is only about 10.5 square miles in area. Handy calls Davis “a small town that really works.”
City planners, health researchers and local leaders want more U.S. communities to “really work”—and to that end, they have begun retrofitting the country, from Atlanta to Sacramento. Inspired by a new urbanism that celebrates neighborhoods and alarmed by health problems—particularly childhood obesity—these trailblazers are building paths, sidewalks and other architectural features while promoting policies and behaviors that get people moving.
This article was originally published with the title The Skinny on the Environment.