Walkable communities seem to be popping up all over. As people become more aware of sustainability and fuel prices soar, there is a movement to reduce the time spent commuting and stay close to home. For those who grew up in urban areas during the early to mid 20th century, this isn’t all that new. But for today’s generations, the concept of having everything you need within walking distance is becoming more appealing.
What Is A Walkable Community?
Walkable communities, according to the website walkable.org, are “communities that are thriving, livable, sustainable places that give their residents safe transportation choices and improved quality of life.”
The website goes on to break down 12 elements that make up a walkable community:
- Intact Town Center
- Residential Densities, Mixed Income and Mixed Use
- Public Space
- Universal Design
- Speed Controlled On Key Streets
- Streets and Trails Are Well Linked
- Design Is Scaled Into Segments
- Community Is Designed With People In Mind
- Town Thinks Small
- Lots Of People Walking
- Town and Residents Have Vision
- Decision-Makers Are Visionaries
These qualities combine to create a sense of community and take effort and commitment to maintain. Having the foresight to develop non-vehicle means for residents to access businesses, services and public spaces takes planning and support.
Benefits Of Walkable Communities
There are several studies that have shown the benefits that come from communities that choose to walk. The impact on housing prices is interesting. One Report from Center For Community Economic Development, University of Wisconsin-Extension in 2003 shows that residents of walkable communities are able and willing to spend at least $20,000 more for their homes. This fact demonstrates that spending less for commuting and transportation allows residents to invest more in their homes.
Walkable communities also support local business. Residents have the opportunity to see the results of keeping the money they spend within their towns.
Health is one of the biggest benefits of using shoes rather than gas and tires. Being able to walk through your community gives you more opportunity for physical activity. This benefits the communities health both physically and mentally according to AmericaWalks.org.
Living in a community that is walkable can make be a big move, but with the advantages that come with them, walkable communities are sure to continue to grow and thrive.