Walkable DFW: The Heat’s Not the Problem

Our Urban Affairs columnist Patrick Kennedy argues that it’s not the weather that keeps life from being lived outdoors most of the year in Dallas:

How many cities have as many 70 degree and sunny days as Dallas does? San Diego? LA under a shroud of smog? The list pretty much begins and ends right there. Yet if it is anything but precisely that we bitch and moan and build a city around climate controlled environment at all times.

If Dallas was built to be in Dallas would we have so much paving, radiating more heat, and creating the dreaded “heat island effect?” Would we have so many mirrored glass buildings reflecting sunlight onto the unshaded sidewalks below amplifying ambient temperatures? Oh, I forgot that reflective glass is supposedly green in the facile world of LEED construction. Would everything be so far apart, thereby abdicating the role of a designer to create micro-climates that are comfortable since we never have to be outside of air conditioning? Can we afford to make those trips as gas prices round $4/gal. and head for $5 despite being already incredibly deflated via a cadre of subsidies?

I think that he undersells just how terrible the heat gets in July and August, especially those summers when we rack up dozens of 100-degree days. But I also think he’s got a point.