Retrofitting Suburbia

The average North American suburbanite now treads with three times the carbon footprint of a city dweller, except that suburbia’s oil dependency and land profligacy mean there’s not a lot of treading going on. One in three kids born today faces the prospect of developing diabetes as a result, in large part, from having nowhere to walk to, and many suburban families spend more on transportation than they do on housing. In this economic wintertime, suburban commercial centers are failing in record numbers, triggering blight and flight in a spiral of wider decay.

The suburbs are not just middle-class bedroom communities any more. Suburbia accounts for 75 percent of developed land in America, and more than half of us live—and work—in it.