NAR has initiated an effort to encourage the planning and development of more walkable communities where residents can walk, bike and take public transit to destinations. Walkable communities reflect the basics of Placemaking in that they create places where people want to live and visit. They give communities a “sense of place.” Listen to our webinar or read our Fact Sheet to get more details on walkable communities. The Spaces to Places blog will include posts on walkable communities. Here is our first one.
Here are 12 of the 50 reasons that will introduce you to the benefits and value of making your community more walkable. Read the full article in Ecocide.
1. It makes people happier
Someone with a one-hour commute in a car needs to earn 40% more to be as happy as someone with a short walk to work. On the other hand, researchers found that if someone shifts from a long commute to a walk, their happiness increases as much as if they’d fallen in love. People who walk 8.6 minutes a day are 33% more likely to report better mental health.
If someone shifts from a long commute to a walk, their happiness increases as much as if they’d fallen in love.
2. It brings back “eyes on the street”
While some countries invest in security cameras for streets—like the U.K., with 5.9 million cameras in public spaces—encouraging more people to walk is a cheaper way of increasing surveillance and making streets feel safer.
3. It makes neighborhoods more vibrant
The same features that make streets more walkable, like a safer and more attractive design, make people want to spend more time in them generally, bringing vibrancy back to neighborhoods.
4. It enhances the “sense of place”
Spending time walking through a neighborhood, rather than driving, helps people have a better sense of what makes it unique—and more likely to want to help take care of it.
5. It connects people across generations
In the U.S., millennials prefer walking to driving by a 12% margin. In some areas, the elderly are also more likely to walk or take public transit. Making streets more walkable helps bring people of all ages—including children—together.
6. It increases land and property values
When neighborhoods become safer, more accessible, and more liveable, property values rise.
Pedestrianizing a street can make home values go up $82 a square foot. It’s also good for landlords, if not tenants: Rents can rise $300 per month
7. It activates the street facade
Walkable neighborhoods are less likely to have a lot of vacant storefronts. In New York City, expanding the pedestrian space in Union Square reduced commercial vacancies 49%.
8. It makes cities more beautiful
Roads and sidewalks typically make up the majority of public space in cities; in Chicago, for example, they make up 70%. Making public space more walkable—with landscaping, public art, and other interventions—also makes it more attractive than a typical road.
9. It increases active use of space
In walkable neighborhoods, people are also more likely to make use of parks and public squares, and other outdoor spaces. In Copenhagen, as the city became more pedestrian-friendly over the last few decades, the number of people sitting in squares and otherwise making use of city space tripled.
10. It makes better use of space
Streets that are redesigned to become more walkable also tend to incorporate underutilized space next to roads. In New York, one study found 700 miles of underused public space under elevated structures.
11. It also promotes public transit
People using a subway or bus to commute to work have to get there from their home—and a better walk makes it more likely that they’ll want to use public transit instead of driving.
12. It builds engagement
As people spend more time outside in their neighborhoods, they’re more likely to feel attached, and to engage in improving the city in general. Crowdfunded public projects are growing in many cities.
Download the full report here.