I took an English exam this morning, on which one of the essay questions happened to have to do with the decrease of making trips to nearby locations on foot/bicycle, with two articles citing the many health consequences of this decreased physical activity, the current epidemic of obesity, and safety consequences of new pedestrian-unfriendly communities.
I'd have to say that my community is fairly bad, though not completely. Yes, there are stores easily within walking distance of residences. However, none of the neighbourhoods have sidewalks. I was born in Scarbourough, Toronto, and they have sidewalks and people walk everywhere (or at least did). Our newly-renovated high school also doesn't have a single bike rack on the grounds. I've been yelled at for bringing my bike into the school for safe-keeping, other times I've found trees or (more recently) light posts to lock it to. We're also getting a new Super Wal-Mart and a few other stores right next to the high school, which is going to wreak havoc on traffic, and I do have to cross one semi-main road to get to the school.
I also have at least one neighbour who will drive when s/he has to go visit someone who lives about 300 feet up the street. It's pretty sad.
It would really be nice if communities themselves put a little effort into making things safer and easier for people to walk or bike to. Maybe planners think that nobody cares about walking anymore, though it's that sort of thinking that just makes it come true.
Maybe I should start a petition or something about those bike racks sometime. It's a pretty easy problem to solve.