Best Ways Urban Design Impacts Public Health and Well-Being

Ways Urban Design Impacts Public Health and Well-Being

Urban planning and public health have always had close ties. John Snow, one of the foremost public health pioneers of his time, used geographical analysis to detect a cholera outbreak in London in 1854; thus proving how community design impacts human wellbeing directly.

Current urban models favour personal motor vehicle mobility over walking and cycling for improved physical health, thus decreasing frequency. Yet many cities are looking to reverse this trend by prioritizing urban nature and safety as part of healthy lifestyle promotion efforts.

1. Walkability

Setting an environment which makes walking as their primary form of transport an attractive option can help people improve their health. This could involve making sure public transport routes run close to residential areas and offering walking infrastructure such as footpaths, pedestrian-friendly crosswalks and parking. Car-centric planning has the opposite effect of encouraging more walking by creating division among communities, raising pollution levels and safety risks while decreasing available active transport options.

One study conducted in a residential neighborhood of New York City discovered that BMI levels decreased as perceived walkability increased; those living in areas where it was difficult or impossible to walk experienced higher BMI levels due to factors like amenities available through walking; traffic congestion; and crime levels that disproportionately impact communities of color. The authors speculated on why these observations occurred and suggested possible explanations such as lack of amenities accessible via walking; traffic congestion; low levels of safety/crime levels which affect communities of color disproportionately more often.

One similar finding came from a survey conducted in various neighborhoods in Dublin where experts rated them for walkability, which experts then scored accordingly. People living in highly walkable neighborhoods reported having more village-like atmosphere with many shops and cafes nearby; found it easier to move around the city without needing a car; as well as less likelihood to perceive that their streets were noisy or unsafe.

Urban designers should take into account that centuries of institutional racism and redlining have contributed to creating environments which are inaccessible for many minorities, making walkability in these areas less than optimal. Promoting walkability should be prioritized alongside providing access to physical activity facilities, shade trees and water sources, and diverse land uses as priorities for those deprived areas.

2. Green Space

Urban green spaces have a profound impact on both physical and mental health. Regular outdoor exercise has been proven to help prevent heart disease, diabetes, hypertension – which are all risk factors for COVID-19 – promote a healthy weight, reduce stress and improve mood and cognitive function. Furthermore, green spaces also provide ecosystem services like cleaning water, mitigating water hazards mitigating air quality/temperature regulation improvements protecting biodiversity as well as providing services such as cleaning water/mitigating hazards/regulating air quality/temperature regulation as well as protecting biodiversity/reducing stress/reduce stress/improve cognitive function/ecosystem services such as cleaning water/mitigating water hazards/reducing stress/improve cognitive function improvement as well as providing clean air quality/temperature regulation improvements while simultaneously protecting biodiversity etc.

Studies have linked living in neighbourhoods with higher levels of green space with lower rates of heart disease and stroke as well as reduced hospitalization and death from cardiovascular conditions. Furthermore, studies have highlighted how quality green space features such as its diversity of landscape features can play an essential role in these positive health outcomes.

Green space helps urban areas avoid extreme heat and harmful air pollution, with particular benefits for vulnerable groups like low-income residents and people of color who tend to live closer to industrial or commercial sites. Studies demonstrate that increasing green spaces in cities can significantly decrease urban heat islands with their associated health impacts.

Urban design should incorporate features that promote physical health in addition to walkability of green spaces, including street trees, gardens and views of nature in commuter routes; including parks or green spaces into new developments’ plans; and including green infrastructure into existing buildings or streetscapes. Leveraging green spaces as an opportunity for public health improvement should be integrated into urban design both at neighborhood and citywide levels to ensure equal access.

3. Safety

Health and safety are inextricably linked. When residents in a community feel safe, it encourages them to spend more time outdoors engaging in healthy behaviors such as physical exercise just like they indulge in indoor activities like playing slots on Therefore, public safety must always remain a top priority during any urban planning process.

Public health and urban planning may once have had distinct distinctions, yet their connections have never been more evident than they are now. This is largely due to shared goals between both disciplines that include creating green space to promote physical activity, social integration and better mental health; preventing infectious diseases through infrastructure like sewer and drinking water systems; restricting industrial pollutants with land-use/zoning ordinances.

Public health and urban planners work hand in hand to limit people’s exposure to air pollution as much as possible, which they accomplish by planting trees that trap heavy metals and other airborne pollutants; decreasing traffic through zoning regulations and public transportation policies; and increasing residential noise insulation.

Much research has been conducted on how cities affect people’s physical health and ways they can be modified for healthier communities, yet less has been done on how urban design influences mental wellbeing – an enormous gap that needs to be filled as soon as possible.

4. Convenience

Convenience culture refers to our society’s ever-increasing emphasis on immediate gratification. While convenience can bring some advantages, such as health improvements, it may also prove costly and irresponsible in terms of cost and sustainability.

Urban planning refers to the practice of planning cities or regional areas from conception through management, including their physical environment, social services, economic development, natural resources management and health-care infrastructure needs. Urban planners collaborate with community members, government agencies and private companies in identifying needs within this space and devising plans accordingly.

Urban planning and public health interact in many ways, from identifying environmental barriers and facilitators of physical activity in communities to finding ways to encourage physical activity (e.g. developing walking/biking trails); to promoting sustainable development practices – each discipline being essential in making progress happen more quickly in terms of physical activity increases in communities. Without this collaboration between disciplines it would likely remain unlikely that substantial increases occur.

Urban planning and public health have historically enjoyed an intimate partnership, benefitting from one another’s knowledge and input. Unfortunately, however, due to changes to policy-making processes for both fields, their ties have become tenuous in recent years.

This shift can be attributed to the growth of interest groups and an agenda focused on particular issues, understandings of causes, or symbols of problems. As a result of these developments, urban planners and public health professionals now approach policy decisions from a different angle than before – specifically their impact on health as a result of urban planning practices or policies versus impact of policy decisions from another field (in this instance urban planning vs public health), with both disciplines working more collaboratively but with different foci depending on emerging ideas, interests or institutions emergent over time.

5. Social Interaction

Studies demonstrate the significant positive influence social interaction can have on mental health and wellbeing, especially among people living with mental illness; but its benefits also extend to the general population. Urban design offers opportunities to foster community and promote healthy social interactions; using plazas, sidewalk cafes and street layouts that encourage walking between buildings or stations for public transit can all foster healthy interactions that help reduce feelings of isolation while raising self-esteem and contributing to improved overall mental wellbeing.

Urban planning can also mitigate the adverse effects of poverty on mental health by creating high-density neighbourhoods with mixed land uses, including parks and civic spaces, that provide residents with affordable housing and employment opportunities. Urban planners can make public transit more accessible by improving its physical infrastructure or offering new services such as bikeshare programs.

Urban planning can also play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency, as well as by improving air quality by limiting noise pollution, increasing natural lighting use and restricting traffic speeds to reduce traffic speeds – such as using streetlights with downward pointing lamps that pose less of an obstruction from light sources in residential areas.

Public health and urban planning are disciplines which have long intersected, though their roles largely diverged by the middle of the 20th century. Recently however, some earlier crossover ideas have begun reemerging – including green space as a way of encouraging physical activity and social inclusion; using municipal infrastructure such as water supply systems to prevent outbreaks of infectious disease outbreaks; as well as safety considerations like road layouts, pedestrian protections and building insulation.