National Building Museum curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino says:
“Only 40 years ago almost half of our children walked or biked to elementary school. Now, just 13% do. Half of the remaining 87% are driven to school in a car. In 1969, so few children were driven to school that you—if you were a kid then—probably remember who they were. Now the numbers have almost exactly reversed, but it happened so gradually that it was almost imperceptible. There’s one less child on the sidewalk, one more strapped in the car seat.
Walking and biking to elementary school used to be common. Now, it’s rare. What happened? We started building fewer, bigger schools between neighborhoods. We built new wide roads to reduce congestion on the way to school. We thought schools would be safer away from Main Street, with its sidewalks of commerce and distractions. We can see the consequences now, making connections between those decisions and rising health problems. With better information, can we make our neighborhoods intelligent?”