AvatarIII wrote:this just basically confirms that a low population density is actually a bad thing, in the uk most people are within walking distance if at least one pub and one grocery shop,
Population densities for Europe and the US are quite similar when comparing areas of the same type (i.e. rural to rural, suburb to suburb, city to city). I know, because I thought there was a big difference between them too before I did a little fact checking.
The problem, I think, is zoning. In most US municipalities zoning is pretty strict, especially
suburban communities. That is, you have residential, commercial, and industrial areas, and they often aren't permitted to mix.
This means that in most US cities it is illegal to build a grocery store and a pub in the middle of a residential area. The only people who are within walking distance of a pub and a grocery store, therefore, are those who live right on the border of a commercial zone. The vast majority of the residents of a neighborhood are too far away to make walking practical.
This may actually be the same for European countries, and they simply have a higher number of dense metropolitan areas which creates the disparity in the overall percentage of walkers. If so, this falls under what is known as the "ecological fallacy". That is, the "big picture" numbers cause you to reach an incorrect conclusion because of misleading data sets that vastly skew the final result.
For example, the average grade of the students in a school is passing, but if you remove a small subset of the students that perform spectacularly well you find that the vast majority of students are failing. The school has serious problems, even though it looks like it is performing just fine.