Is your neighborhood pedestrian-friendly? Or do you fear for your life every time you go for a walk or bike ride? Find out why cities are on a quest to become more walkable.
You’ve heard it said before, “Location is everything.” This use to be the mantra of businesses, but in a time of rapidly growing cities, it’s becoming the rallying cry of individuals and families as well. Rather than being concerned about proximity to the interstate and amount of free parking, people are more focused on how pedestrian-friendly a community is. When it’s easy to walk, bike or take public transit wherever you need to go, living greener becomes that much more convenient. As the economic and environmental benefits of urban density become more apparent, neighborhoods are doing all they can to become more walkable.
What’s a Walkable Neighborhood?
There are many different factors that affect the walkability of a community. Most urban planners agree that a combination of most of the below characteristics is vital:
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.
- People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
- Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
- Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
- Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
Sadly, it’s become increasingly hard to find neighborhoods, never mind entire cities, that live up to these requirements. The good news is, that’s changing as developers and city governments realize the benefits of walkability.
Benefits of a Walkable Neighborhood
- Increased property values: when walkability goes up, traffic noise, traffic speeds, and vehicle-generated air pollution go down. Over time, this has a positive impact on property values because it creates a place people want to live and raise their families.
- It’s a tourist magnet: When friends come to town, you know where we always take them? The Old Town portion of our community. Why? Because we can easily walk from shop to restaurant to music venue without the hassle of parking. It’s also where all of our favorite locally-owned businesses are located. Which brings us to…
- It’s good for the local economy: WalkBoston’s Good Walking is Good Business brochure provides data and statistics on the important connection between walkability and economic prosperity. The numbers are astounding and prove this is a wise investment. Dollar for dollar, the returns of a walkable neighborhood are impressive, from more customers to healthier, more productive employees.
- It’s safer and healthier: less motorized vehicle traffic and proper infrastructure makes people more willing to utilize alternative transportation. They’re also more likely to venture outside, walk or run down the sidewalks, getting to know neighbors and business owners along the way.
Interested in more benefits? Check out this list from America Walks.
So, How Walkable is Your Neighborhood?
Walk Score is an amazing online platforms that allows you to see how pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is with just a few clicks. If you’re thinking about relocating, make this essential step a part of your real estate search.
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Image: faunng’s photo