Now, more than ever, the “walkability” of our neighborhoods is a subject that comes up in discussions of health, the environment, traffic, urban development, local crime, economics, community, social engagement and transportation.
Urban Design professionals are positioning “walkability” as one of the key criteria for creating healthy and vibrant communities and, in fact, the City of Los Angeles now has a Walkability Checklist for Developers as a tool for evaluating projects from the perspective of the pedestrian.
The folks at Walk Score have developed a tool that will evaluate your neighborhood based on your address and give you a “walkability” score.
They further explain “Why Walking Matters.”
Why Walking Matters
Walkable neighborhoods offer surprising benefits to our health, the environment, and our communities.
Better health: A study in Washington State found that the average resident of a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood weighs 7 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood1. Residents of walkable neighborhoods drive less and suffer fewer car accidents, a leading cause of death between the ages of 15 – 45.
Reduction in greenhouse gas: Cars are a leading cause of global warming. Your feet are zero pollution transportation machines.
More transportation options: Compact neighborhoods tend to have higher population density, which leads to more public transportation options and bicycle infrastructure. Not only is taking the bus cheaper than driving, but riding a bus is ten times safer than driving a car2!
Increased social capital: Walking increases social capital by promoting face-to-face interaction with your neighbors. Studies have shown that for each 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10 percent3.
Stronger local businesses: Dense, walkable neighborhoods provide local businesses with the foot traffic they need to thrive. It’s easier for pedestrians to shop at many stores on one trip, since they don’t need to drive between destinations.