Designing communities that are pedestrian-friendly and promote walking are becoming more and more important, and that’s because of the vast benefits that walkable communities bring.
“It is a neighborhood type defined by services within walking distance of residents, a pedestrian orientation that minimizes car dependence, and a level of density and land-use diversity that is higher than the typical American suburb . . . Our focus is on the general parameters of the compact, walkable, and diverse neighborhood as a type distinct from auto-dependent, single-use suburbs.” [Huffington Post]
According to Walkscore, the qualities that make a neighbourhood walkable are:
- A centre space, like a main street or a green space
- Mixed income and mixed use
- Parks and public spaces
- Pedestrian design (buildings close to the street, etc.)
- Schools and workplaces
- Complete streets (designed for cyclists, pedestrians and transit)
Walkability is a desirable feature of a community because of its many benefits, both for individuals and for cities. Here’s a quick look at some of the ways walkable neighbourhoods are beneficial:
- Reduced driving: with walkable areas, comes less cars on the road and a reduction in the emissions and the traffic.
- Reduced cost of living: with less driving to do, residents can save on costs associated (gas, maintenance, etc.).
- Increases healthy lifestyles: when communities are built for walking, people tend to walk more which increases a healthy lifestyle and decreases obesity.
- Promotes sociability: compact and walkable neighbourhoods promote social interaction between residents and community members.
- Helps the economy: many studies have shown that walkable communities are prone to prosperity and boost the economy. Read more in this story from CityLab.
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