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How Urban Design Can Make Or Break Happiness

Zach Bonnell
Despite brutal winters, people walk in Montreal - because this is what they see when they do.

How much can the route to and from work influence our physical and psychological health? You might be surprised. Before Charles Montgomery joins us on Think at noon, check out the research that inspired his book Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design. 

In this excerpt for Slate, Montgomery explains how aesthetics of everyday travel patterns are key to physical activity and engaged attitudes. For example, even in Montreal, with its extreme winters and oppressive summers, shoppers walk six to eight minutes between stops. So it's not just about weather - and it's not just about logistical walkability either. 

"Dump us in a vast parking lot surrounded by big-box outlets, and our inclination to walk evaporates," Montgomery writes. 

What about those people who just like to drive? Montgomery says the suburbs aren't necessarily filled with them. 

"Nearly a third of people living in Atlanta’s car-dependent sprawl wished they lived in a walkable neighborhood, but they were mostly out of luck because Atlanta had gone nearly half a century without building such places," he writes.

Listen to Think from noon to 2 p.m. on KERA 90.1 orstream online.

Lyndsay Knecht is assistant producer for Think.