From Jeff Speck's important book Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, which you can purchase at our very own Elliott Bay Book Company.
For Dr. Jackson, the epiphany [about health and urban design] came in 1999, when he was driving on Atlanta’s Buford Highway—voted by the Congress for the New Urbanism as one of the ten “Worst Streets in America”—a seven-laner flanked by low-income garden apartments, “with no sidewalks and two miles between traffic lights.” There, by the side of the road, in the ninety-five-degree afternoon, he saw a woman in her seventies, struggling under the burden of two shopping bags. He tried to relate her plight to his own work as an epidemiologist: If that poor woman had collapsed from heat stroke, we docs would have written the cause of death as heat stroke and not lack of trees and public transportation, poor urban form, and heat-island effects. If she had been killed by a truck going by, the cause of death would have been “motor-vehicle trauma,” and not lack of sidewalks and transit, poor urban planning, and failed political leadership. That was the “aha!” moment for me. Here I was focusing on remote disease risks when the biggest risks that people faced were coming from the built environment.
Dr. Richard Jackson wrote with Howard Frumkin and Lawrence Frank Urban Sprawl and Public Health, a book that transferred at once all the talk about urban walkability from the aesthetic realm to that of hard science.