why are walkable cities important
This pattern repeats itself in towns and cities across America. The result is that the urban core is almost always financially propping up the entire city. Cities around the world are changing to become more “walkable”. 3 dollars and cents arguments that definitively prove the need for people-oriented, walk-friendly places. (Before diving in further, I have to say that slogging through academic literature is not for the timid. (In the case of the Lafayette map, taller green plots are revenue positive for the city while taller red plots are revenue negative.). A walkable street ensures that people can safely cross from a clothing store to a coffee shop and spend money at both. The Theory of Walkability . Walkability makes cities more resilient in disasters. If one could walk in a straight line, they might be only a five minute walk from each other. And if that’s not enough to convince you, remember that it's not just walking infrastructure that's more affordable to build and maintain in and of itself. Walkable communities provide the opportunity to incorporate more activity into everyday life, by walking to and from work, taking a stroll to a local restaurant for dinner or running errands on foot. Crosswalks are spaced far apart, if there are any at all. Plant Trees . Jeff Speck is a city planner and urban designer who, through writing, lectures, and built work, advocates internationally for more walkable cities. Talen and Koschinsky argue that safety is positively related to such neighborhoods for two reasons: first, a reduced emphasis on unimpeded vehicle flow makes places safer for both drivers and pedestrians; and, second, compact urban forms produce more street life, a deterrent against crime. In fact, the researchers contend, both the macro and the micro scales are relevant: "Adults spend most of their waking hours away from home. What is a walkable city? In every single image, the people-oriented, historic city centers are the ones that rise far above the surrounding auto-oriented land in terms of tax value per acre. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. Invest in an auto-oriented street and you are temporarily filling a space that will likely be empty in a decade, draining life and tax value from your town. Walkable cities are livable built environments which lead to whole happy and healthy lives for the people who live in them. Philadelphia is considered the 4th most walkable city as of 2020 with a walkability score of 79 by the group Walk Score. Defining the characteristics of our neighborhoods and cities that promote walking and health is critical, because the US is suffering a serious obesity epidemic that is getting worse rather than better. This is an important result in that many new developments focus on building urban enclaves with high intersection densities in the middle of more suburban environments. Urban greenery impacts all elements of how walkable they cities are, from attractiveness, safety, quality of the environment, down to how comfortable a street is to walk on. Why Is Walkability Important? While researchers are careful to point out that many other factors facilitate good health as well, the results hold up even when the studies are controlled to eliminate those other factors from consideration. Again and again, when we look at streets oriented toward people — that is, streets where walking is safe and enjoyable, that people are drawn to visit on foot, and where fast and extensive car traffic is not the #1 priority — we find that they are more economically productive than any other style of development. Urban planners of countries like Denmark and the Netherlands paid more attention to design more bike-friendly passageways and bridges. Aside from making the urban environment more pleasant, safer and less polluted, improving a city’s walkability can also ease traffic congestion and improve public health. No trees shade the sidewalk. With each of these variables defined, it’s also important to ask why walkability is so important. 47. Why Living in a Walkable Area Matters Jennifer Fulwiler The website Walk Score has released their 2011 list of the country’s most “walkable” cities , i.e. For instance, in a 2011 report for Australia’s Heart Foundation, Dr. Rodney Tolley concludes: Streetscape enhancements add value to an area and are associated with higher rents and the attraction of new businesses. Buildings are only one story tall, which means that destinations are more spread out and tax revenue for each plot of land can only come from one business. Because downtowns are the heart of a city and region — and having a healthy heart is essential to having a strong city and region. There is more to a walkable city than the economic, intellectual and social benefits that it delivers – walkable cities are heart-friendly as they result in better blood pressure outcomes for their inhabitants, according to a study. Most, although not all, meta-analyses summarizing these relationships have concluded that there are strong correlations overall." This brings me to Talen and Koschinsky's work. Trained in dialogue facilitation and mediation, she is devoted to building understanding across lines of difference. ", The authors conclude that "the role of the street network and how we put together the bones of our communities should not be overlooked as a potential contributing factor to health outcomes.". #3 – Why are walkable cities important? They should be taken into account as we plan for a healthier future and, I would argue, more choices for our growing population as we seek places to live, work, shop, and play. Part of HuffPost Wellness. The researchers note that "the most compact counties are as expected, central counties of large, older metropolitan areas. Why build streets that are constructed with the needs of people in mind, not just the needs of cars? When we build for people, we get economically prosperous places. They observe that the counties rated as most sprawling according to the study's four-factor index - those with the highest rates of obesity and reported disease - have census tracts with "very low residential densities, commercial strips, and cul-de-sac street networks.". While, as noted, the different researchers involved in the three studies assess different characteristics of urban form, all generally accept the definition put forth by Arizona State University researchers Emily Talen and Julia Koschinsky in the opening paragraph of their study: "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 . Finally, walkable neighborhoods in city after city across the country demonstrate far greater tax revenue per square foot than any other type of development. The authors examined three aspects of street networks - street connectivity, street network density, and street configuration - in 24 medium-sized California cities and, as did Ewing's group, compared the land use indices to an expansive health database. The connections between street layout and health were the focus of a study led by Wesley Marshall of the University of Colorado-Denver and reported earlier this year in the Journal of Transport & Health. In the first photo, we see that just one side of this walkable block is occupied by more than a dozen businesses, most of which have apartments or offices above them. (Ironically, most cities spend exponentially more on their roads while utterly neglecting their sidewalks.). We know from exhaustive past research that walkable neighborhoods and cities reduce driving, associated emissions, and living costs. Meanwhile, the lone Perkins in the second photo has to reserve most of its space for a parking lot and a large sign. They are also economically significant because of their incredibly high return on public investment. ©2021 Verizon Media. The following images created by Urban3 visually illustrate the tax value per acre of every plot of land in four geographically diverse communities and this pattern is evident in all of them. In these images, everything is built around the car: We see wide roads with multiples lanes of traffic and no on-street parking — all of which induces fast driving. It means that people who live in the neighborhood can grab groceries and other necessities easily, so they’ll probably visit nearby establishments more often. 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