‘Urbanized’ & Walkability

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The National Congress of Brazil (Portuguese: Congresso Nacional do Brasil)

Walkability is vital in determining how livable and sustainable a city is. The documentary Urbanized, showcased a few different problems and concerns that have risen in many communities throughout time;  Problems that have surfaced throughout the lives of many people I know, and in some instances my own life. The film showcased the city of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. A city designed from the start to be a beacon of modern Architecture and Urban Planning. Its modern approach creates stunning views when seen from the sky. Its downfall comes when taking into account that the designers and planners mainly focused on the city’s looks and aesthetics, but forgot to integrate its livability and congruity between the city and its people. It’s landscaping and ample build forced citizens to walk and drive long straight distances to reach their destinations. That gave a beautiful city with so much potential a feeling of disconnection with its citizens. Places need to be accessible; residential areas separate from workplaces merged with a lack of transportation & walkability lead to an incoherent sense of community .

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Brasilia’s Aesthetically pleasing Residential Scale

Lack of walkability in neighborhoods is more prominent within suburb areas. When communities start developing sprawl however, walkability is lost in nearly every aspect. I went to High School partly in New York, then moved to St. Cloud, Fl (a small town that shows a clear representation of sprawl) and graduated there. The change was quite unbelievable, considering the transition from a community where walking was safe, encouraged & almost necessary; I would walk to school practically everyday. After I moved down to Florida  walking was not an option. My new school was miles away from home and the walk was not safe. I felt disconnected specially since I was not old enough to have a car then. I did not really explore the city of Orlando because I had no other option. When I did get my first car and moved on to college I noticed this trend was not specific to me, but a majority of Orlando’s citizens experience the same. Even living less than two miles from UCF’s main campus, I still would not feel safe walking to school. A majority of UCF’s students feel that there is an obvious disconnection between places & people in Central Florida. Many defend their joy in the suburb lifestyle, having no problem with driving everywhere they go, but that does not change the fact that neighborhoods and cities who lack walkability tend to not be as safe and inherently carry a sense of disconnect. The option for walkability should be there regardless of the type of community or transportation preference. Kevin M. Leyden writes in ‘Social Capital and the Built Environment: The importance of Walkable Neighborhoods’ that, “A growing number of researchers agree that social networks and community involvement have positive health consequences. Persons who’re socially engaged with others and actively involved in their communities tend to live linger and be healthier physically and mentally.” This goes to show that it is not only safer to have walkable neighborhoods but it is also beneficial for citizen health. Planning for walkability increases the overall sense of community and integrity within a city, and in some instances might even help the local economy.