Preventing Urban Sprawl with Parks

I love this idea. Sort of obvious once you think about it, but hardly considered or discussed when talking about ways to reduce climate change, obesity, driving, and so on. Why do people think life in the suburbs sounds so nice? One major reason is because they think of the benefits of a nice big open lawn and fresh air. But if a city has enough quality parks, this becomes a much less important issue.

Parks provide important respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. They provide us with the green, oxygen-giving, rejuvenating influence of nature. They provide us with important open space for several forms of exercise. They provide us with a place to go when the weather is beautiful.

Image Credit: andrew mace— Bow Bridge in Central Park, NYC

Bow Bridge in Central Park, NYC

“One of the reasons people move out to the suburbs is to have some sort of space, some sort of breathing room. The interior spaces of landscape in the city can replace that. They’re there to enable healthy living. Urban spaces allow you to take out your children, walk your dog, or exercise. Parks provide a place to just stop and rest for a moment, stop and think about where you’re going and what you’re doing. Those are the roles of urban space in the city,” renowned landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson said in an interview with the American Society of Landscape Architects recently.

One way to address some of the most critical issues of our time is to build dense, livable cities. An important part of that is creating numerous useful and beautiful parks.

“What is important about urban parks is that they are the only way to stop urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is linked with the energy crisis. Sustainability means trying to live in harmony with the planet. This isn’t possible if we don’t densify our cities to stop urban sprawl. The only way to densify a city is to have urban space,” Gustafson said.

Parks may simply seem like an extra, non-essential amenity to many, but when you get down to it, parks are actually one of the most critical pieces to creating a livable city.

Get out and enjoy your local park this year (for your health and happiness). And look to encourage the creation of more when you have the opportunity. Have more thoughts on urban parks? Share below.