If you thought that the concept of New Urbanism would simply reduce traffic in cities, then you would be very wrong. New Urbanism has many and far-ranging benefits that include traffic reduction, less air pollution, increased physical health, better mental health, and an overall increase in quality of life.
Walkability and connectivity are two key aspects of the New Urbanism way of planning and building communities. Walkability measures how easy it is for pedestrians to move around and get to work. Connectivity is a measure of how well-connected parts of cities are and the public transit infrastructure available.
Studies have found a robust correlation between walkability and health. Counties and metropolitan areas with high walkability and connectivity were found to have lower rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. At the other end, the counties with low walkability and connectivity scores had higher rates of obesity and type two diabetes.
The evidence is clear that the more a city or county is dependent on automobiles for transportation, the more likely its residents will be overweight and have health problems such as diabetes. New Urbanism promotes people to walk, bike, and use public transportation. All of this requires physical activity. That activity is healthy and can even save people time in traffic.
Studies into New Urbanism have found that the denser the grids are in a city, the more pedestrian-friendly it becomes. More intersections also make cities more walkable. More roads with fewer lanes were also found to be better at managing traffic than a single highway with multiple lanes. This means that the multi-lane highways we are used to are not that effective in managing traffic.
New Urbanism style development not only improves physical health by getting people to move, but it also improves environmental health. Fewer cars on the highways and less traffic jams mean that air pollution will be decreased. This is another improvement in people’s health.
There are even economic and natural resource benefits to utilizing New Urbanism in the design and construction of new developments. One study summarized by MIT researchers found that well-connected cities had increases in worker productivity and GDP. More urban developments can also save cities a lot of money and resources. This is because everything will be closer together and not scattered. The result would be less plumbing, sewers, and roads to maintain and more available green space.