Monday, January 6, 2014

Walkability - progress in the built environment

An article published in The Morning Call, a newspaper in Lehigh Valley (a metropolitan region consisting of Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties in eastern Pennsylvania and Warren county on the western edge of New Jersey) shows the economic advantages of creating communities which are pedestrian friendly and which encourage walking.

According to the National Association of Realtors 2013 Community Preference Survey, 60 percent of respondents wanted communities with businesses and recreation that were easily to walk to rather than driving. Many in city zoning, planning and development agree that easily walkable neighborhoods can lure visitors and residents back to urban cores once almost abandoned. Advocates say walkable districts can promote personal health, relieve automotive congestion, limit pollution, make streets safer and foster a renewed sense of community.

Walkability is so important to communities that it's measured on a scale from zero to 100 — with higher numbers being awarded to communities with more pedestrian-friendly features. The scores are available for any city or address at walkscore.com.

Just a slight shift in a walk score can have a big impact on house values in a community as well as businesses. A 2009 study from Impresa, a consulting firm in Portland, Ore., showed that a one-point increase in a typical city's walk score "was associated with between a $700 and $3,000 increase in home values." And a November 2013 report prepared for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation by Gary Hack, urban design professor at the University of Pennsylvania, noted that many of today's walkable urban shopping areas are prospering.

It is great news for those striving to increase our citizens’ level of physical activity that building communities friendly to walkers is profitable as well as healthy!   For the complete article, go to:  Walk this Way

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