Utne Blogs > Environment

Cars and Community Don't Mix

by Cally Carswell 


Tags: Environment, green living, traffic, congestion, Joshua Hart, The Guardian,

Heavy TrafficIt turns out heavy traffic isn’t just bad for the atmosphere. It also erodes the social fabric of communities and squashes neighborly relationships, according to a new study out of Great Britain.

Guardian reports" href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/19/ethicalliving.automotive" target="_blank">The Guardian reports that the study, which looked at three streets in Bristol, England with light, medium, and heavy traffic flow, found that “people who live with high levels of motor traffic are far more likely to be socially disconnected and even ill than people who live in quiet, clean streets.” Residents on the heavily trafficked street had fewer neighborhood friends and acquaintances than those living on the less congested roads, weren’t likely to let their kids play outside, and felt little sense of community.

Researcher Joshua Hart concluded, “The primary influence on social deterioration is the external effect of traffic, not any possible personality differences among residents of the three streets…It seems that community and quality of life have been neglected whilst planning and transport policies have led to a massive growth in motor vehicles in the UK."

Image by Broken Sphere, licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.

rachel levitt
9/24/2008 3:21:31 PM

I've personally experienced this; I didn't realize it was a documented scientific phenomenon! I recently moved from a quiet residential neighborhood to an apartment building on a busy street. I would often sit out on the front step of my old building to get some air or read the paper, but I can't imagine doing that at my new place.