Myth: Cities are bad for your health

Aerial photo of Denver showing urban trees

Cities are where people come together for work and community. We bring our goods and skills and care, but that’s not all we bring. Everyone goes to the bathroom, everyone produces trash, everyone is sometimes noisy at some point in their life. The more people that come together, the more we have to work to deal with our trash and waste.

 

Cities haven’t been healthy places to live for most of our history. But that fact has changed a lot in our lifetimes, and we can make our cities even better.

 

What does being healthy mean? It can mean having clean water and air so you don’t get sick all the time. It can mean accessible and affordable medical care for when you do get sick or hurt. It can mean having safe neighborhoods so you don’t have to worry about car crashes or crime. It can mean having a good stable job. It can mean a quiet neighborhood or good parks to enjoy.

Why are cities healthier places now?

  • Less Pollution – We’ve passed laws to limit pollution, and invented technology to make less pollution for whatever we need to do – catalytic converters for cars, new electric cars and trucks and bikes, renewable energy.
  • Better Health Care – City residents have easier access to more and better healthcare.
  • Better Sanitation – Sharing the cost of pipes across more people means we can replace and repair pipes before they break.
  • Improved Safety – Crime is complicated, and your personal experience may be very different from someone else’s. Crime has dropped almost everywhere, and a lot depends on where you live. Some bigger and denser cities are now safer than small ones! Density doesn’t automatically mean more crime like it did in the past.

Man with fresh fruit and vegetable stand on a street

We’ve made great progress and should be proud of how far we’ve come! However, we can do more to make cities even healthier.

If we let people live closer together and use less to get around, we don’t need big roads with lots of polluting cars.

Why would this work? Think about when people leave a stadium at the end of the game – everyone wants to leave, but if we all tried to go out the door at the same time, no one could go anywhere. But if we cooperate a little bit by waiting in line, we all get out faster. Cities are the same way – cooperate a little bit, and we can all move faster with less pollution around us.

 

City life doesn’t have to be for everyone. But for those who live in one, we have already made city life better, and there is more we can do to make it better.

 

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