Walkable Cities

Discussion

We can make our cities more walkable by incorporating features into the urban landscape that make walking a pleasant experience, and by bringing a range of interesting destinations within walking distance of homes and workplaces.

By encouraging people to walk, we get the benefit of better health, and safer, more convivial neighborhoods.

Urban Ecology Articles

Cities for a Greenhouse World. Paul Downton. Urban Ecology Australia

Walking and cycling [as a form of urban mobility] use the least amount of energy and encourage neighbourly interaction. A 5 minute walk to get a loaf of bread not only consumes less energy than a 5 minute drive (and helps keep you healthy), it requires less resources altogether because you don’t require all the paraphernalia of wide bitumen roads and car parks, and so on.

In the USA the idea of neighbourhood and the main street focus of traditional small towns is driving a whole new approach to development that is moving away from sprawl and insisting on designs for towns and cities that make it easy to walk to work, to shop, to school and to places of recreation and no longer condemn mums and dads to life as taxi drivers while their kids grow up.

Readings

Walkable Communities

Welcome to Walkable Communities. Walkable Communities

Walkability is the cornerstone and key to an urban area's efficient ground transportation. Every trip begins and ends with walking. Walking remains the cheapest form of transport for all people, and the construction of a walkable community provides the most affordable transportation system any community can plan, design, construct and maintain. Walkable communities put urban environments back on a scale for sustainability of resources (both natural and economic) and lead to more social interaction, physical fitness and diminished crime and other social problems. Walkable communities are more liveable communities and lead to whole, happy, healthy lives for the people who live in them.

Walkability - Economic Value

Economic Value of Walkability (PDF). Todd Alexander Litman. Victoria Transport Policy Institute. 2002.11

Walking and walkability provide a variety of benefits, including accessibility, transportation cost savings, public health, reduced external transportation costs, more efficient land use, community liveability, economic development, and support for equity objectives. Yet current transportation planning practices tend to undervalue walking.

Planning for Walkability

Transport Planners Out of Step on Walking. John Grant. The Age. 2006.2.1

If we make our suburbs and local centres more accessible to pedestrians, it will help improve their health, end high-polluting short car trips, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save everyone money as car operating costs, parking and road construction needs are reduced.

More than 25 per cent of all car trips in metropolitan Melbourne are less than two kilometres.

Walking is healthy and kids enjoy it, the poor and elderly have to do it, and if we all did it more, the streets would be safer, local business would benefit, congestion would be reduced and we would live in the type of suburb most people really want. Around the world, cities and suburbs that are walkable are liveable and are doing well economically and socially.

We have to make it possible for people to walk more, with better-planned suburbs, well-maintained footpaths, appropriate speed limits, safe road crossings, responsive traffic lights, seats, signs, more "local" shops - all of those important things that often get forgotten when the focus is on getting vehicles to their destinations.

Urban Walkabilitiy

An Urban Stroll in Barcelona, Bangkok and Brisbane. Danny O'Hare. Brisbane Institute. 2004.10

Urban walkability is increasingly recognised as having a range of benefits for cities and the people who use them. [It increases] the sustainability of cities, through better public health and individual well-being, safer and more vibrant streets, more viable local centres, reduced vehicle congestion, lower pollution and fossil fuel use, and more viable public transport. Mixed land uses and dense development are keys to getting pedestrians onto the streets, but the quality of the pedestrian experience is also critical to the liveability of the city.

[In Barcelona] traffic lights give [pedestrians] a fair go. Signalled crossings are located on the pedestrian desire lines. The walk sign comes on automatically, and it stays on long enough for even the elderly and less abled citizens to walk right across the street before the 'don't walk' sign lights up. This is the case even on major boulevards with wide medians, where pedestrians can continue right across without waiting on the median. And footpaths are generally wide, attractively and comfortably paved, with shady trees, and adequate seating for those who need a rest or wish to socialise.

Walkable Streets

Streets that Work. Chris Bowe. Adelaide Review. 2004.11.26

The most workable and sustainable communities are characterised by diversity and a shared sense of belonging and ownership among people of all ages and situations.

Ideal neighbourhoods are compact and pedestrian friendly, and include most daily activities and destinations – particularly public transport links – within comfortable walking distance. They incorporate a mix of housing types and affordability; a mix of civic, institutional and commercial facilities; and a mix of public spaces, parks and sporting and outdoor play areas.

Streets are the lifelines of the urban neighbourhood. Good streets promote:

Pedestrian Cities

Pedestrian Cities. Paul Makovsky. Metropolis Magazine. 2002.8

Encourage walking and cycling. Discourage cars and parking.

Copenhagen's 10-Step Program

1. Convert streets into pedestrian thoroughfares.

The city turned its traditional main street, Strøget, into a pedestrian thoroughfare in 1962. In succeeding decades they gradually added more pedestrian-only streets, linking them to pedestrian-priority streets, where walkers and cyclists have right-of-way but cars are allowed at low speeds.

2. Reduce traffic and parking gradually.

To keep traffic volume stable, the city reduced the number of cars in the city center by eliminating parking spaces at a rate of 2-3 percent per year. Between 1986 and 1996 the city eliminated about 600 spaces.

3. Turn parking lots into public squares.

The act of creating pedestrian streets freed up parking lots, enabling the city to transform them into public squares.

4. Keep scale dense and low.

Low-slung, densely spaced buildings allow breezes to pass over them, making the city center milder and less windy than the rest of Copenhagen.

5. Honor the human scale.

The city's modest scale and street grid make walking a pleasant experience; its historic buildings, with their stoops, awnings, and doorways, provide people with impromptu places to stand and sit.

6. Populate the core.

More than 6,800 residents now live in the city center. They've eliminated their dependence on cars, and at night their lighted windows give visiting pedestrians a feeling of safety.

7. Encourage student living.

Students who commute to school on bicycles don't add to traffic congestion; on the contrary, their active presence, day and night, animates the city.

8. Adapt the cityscape to changing seasons.

Outdoor cafés, public squares, and street performers attract thousands in the summer; skating rinks, heated benches, and gaslit heaters on street corners make winters in the city center enjoyable.

9. Promote cycling as a major mode of transportation.

The city established new bike lanes and extended existing ones. They placed bike crossings--using space freed up by the elimination of parking--near intersections. Currently 34 percent of Copenhageners who work in the city bicycle to their jobs.

10. Make bicycles available.

People can borrow city bikes for about $2.50; when finished, they simply leave them at any one of the 110 bike stands located around the city center and their money is refunded.

Walkability Checklist

Walkability Checklist - How walkable is your community? Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Centre

1. Did you have room to walk?

Possible problems: sidewalks or paths started and stopped; sidewalks broken or cracked; sidewalks blocked; no sidewalks, paths or shoulders; too much traffic.

2. Was it easy to cross streets?

Possible problems: road too wide; traffic signals made us wait too long or did not

give us enough time to cross; crosswalks/traffic signals needed; view of traffic blocked by parked cars, trees, or plants; needed curb ramps or ramps needed repair.

3. Did drivers behave well?

Not if they: backed without looking; did not yield; turned into walkers; drove too fast; sped up to make traffic lights or drove through red lights.

4. Could you follow safety rules?

Could you: cross at crosswalks or where you could see and be seen; stop and look left, right, left before crossing; walk on sidewalks or shoulders facing traffic; cross with the light?

5. Was your walk pleasant?

Did the area need grass, flowers, trees? Were their scary dogs? Were there scary people? Was the path not well lit? Was the area dirty, full of litter? Was there lots of traffic?

A Quick Health Check

Could you go as far or as fast as you wanted? Were you tired, short of breath or had sore feet or muscles? Was the sun really hot? Was it hot and hazy?

Walkability Checklist

Walkability Checklist (PDF) WalkSanDiego

Sidewalks

Were sidewalks: in place on both sides of the street? Continuous (no missing segments)? Smooth, flat and unbroken? At least 5 feet [1.5 m] wide? Separated from traffic by a parkway?

Continuous pathways create safe routes for walking. Shade trees enhance the pedestrian environment. Landscaped parkways keep pedestrians a comfortable distance from traffic. Unique pavement insets add interest and help create a sense of place.

Crossings

Were there safe places to cross every 300 feet (100 m)? If a street had more than two lanes, was there a median? Were there curb ramps at all crossings?

Signalised Crossings

Was the wait at the signal reasonably short? Did you have enough time to cross?

Unsignalised Crossings

Did you wait long for a gap in traffic? Did you have time to cross safely?

Unique pavement treatment makes crossing prominent. Median refuge makes crossing safer for pedestrians. Signage, lighting, and landscaping make crosswalks more visible to motorists.

Traffic

Did you feel motorists were driving at reasonable speeds? Did you feel you were sufficiently separated from moving traffic? Did drivers yield when appropriate? Were drivers paying attention to pedestrians? In crossing areas, was you view of traffic free of obstructions (parked cars, trees, signs)?

Slow speed limits partnered with traffic calming decrease the risk of pedestrian injury. Bulb-outs at intersections help to slow traffic and make crossing easier. Parkways and on-street parking separate pedestrians from moving traffic.

Ambience

Were there other people out walking? Was your route clear of litter? Was the sidewalk areas interesting (street art, landscaping, etc)?

After Dark

Was your entire route lit enough to navigate easily? Was lighting adequate at crossings? Did you feel safe walking at night?

An active street life increase safety and creates interest for pedestrians. Landscaping makes walking more pleasant. Median landscaping improves the overall appearance of street.

Pedestrian Plans

Exemplary Pedestrian Plans . Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Centre. 2005

If you are embarking on the development of a bicycle and/or pedestrian plan, these examples will provide you with inspiration and information that we hope you’ll find useful.

Walkable Communities - Features

How Can I Find and Help Build a Walkable Community. Dan Burden. Walkable Communities

Features of Walkable Communities

1. Intact town centers.

This center includes a quiet, pleasant main street with a hearty, healthy set of stores. These stores are open for business a minimum of 8 hours a day. The stores include things like barbers/beauticians, hardware, druggist, small grocery/deli, sets of good restaurants, clothing, variety store, ice cream shop, stores that attract children, many youth and senior services, places to conduct civic and personal business, library, all within a 1/4 mile walk (5 minutes) of the absolute center. If this is a county seat, the county buildings are downtown. If this is an incorporated town the town hall is in the town center. The library is open for business at least 10 hours a day 6-7 days a week. There is still a post office downtown.

2. Residential densities, mixed income, mixed use.

Near the town center, and in a large town at appropriate transit locations there will be true neighborhoods. Higher densities are toward the town center and in appropriate concentrations further out. Housing includes mixed income and mixed use. A truly walkable community does not force lots of people to drive to where they work. Aspen, for example, is a great place to shop and play...but fails to provide housing for anyone who works there. Granny flats, design studios and other affordable housing are part of the mix in even the wealthiest neighborhoods.

3. Public Space.

There are many places for people to assemble, play and associate with others within their neighborhood. The best neighborhoods have welcoming public space within 1/8 mile [200 metres] of all homes. These spaces are easily accessed by all people.

4. Universal Design.

The community has a healthy respect for people of all abilities, and has appropriate ramps, medians, refuges, crossings of driveways, sidewalks on all streets where needed, benches, shade and other basic amenities to make walking feasible and enjoyable for everyone.

5. Key Streets Are Speed Controlled.

Traffic moves on main street and in neighborhoods at safe, pleasant, courteous speeds. Most streets are designed to keep speeds low. Many of these streets are tree lined, have on-street parking and use other methods that are affordable means to keep traffic speeds under control. There is an absence of one-way couplets designed to flush downtown of its traffic in a rush or flight to the suburbs. In most parts of the nation the streets are also green, or have other pleasant landscaping schemes in dry climates.

6. Streets, Trails are Well Linked.

The town has good block form, often in a grid or other highly connected pattern. Although hilly terrain calls for slightly different patterns, the linkages are still frequent. Some of the newer neighborhoods that were built to cul-de-sac or other fractured patterns are now being repaired for walking by putting in trail connectors in many places. These links are well designed so that there are many eyes on these places. Code for new streets no longer permits long streets that are disconnected.

7. Design is Properly Scaled to 1/8th, 1/4 and 1/2 mile radius segments.

From most homes it is possible to get to most services in 1⁄4 mile (actual walked distance). Neighborhood elementary schools are within a 1⁄4 mile walking radius of most homes, while high schools are accessible to most children (1 mile radius). Most important features (parks) are within 1/8th mile, and a good, well designed place to wait for a high frequency (10-20 minutes) bus is within 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 mile. Note that most of these details can be seen on a good local planning map, and even many can be downloaded from the web.

8. Town is Designed for People.

Look for clues that decisions are being made for people first, cars second. Does the town have a lot of open parking lots downtown? Are a lot of streets plagued with multiple commercial driveways, limited on-street parking, fast turning radii on corners. Towns designed for people have many investments being made in plazas, parks, walkways ... rarely are they investing in decongesting intersections on the far reaches of town. Towns designed for people are tearing down old, non-historic dwellings, shopping plazas and such and converting them to compact, mixed use, mixed income properties. Ask to review the past year of building permits by category. Much is told about what percentage of construction that is infill and independent small builder stock versus big builder single price range housing or retail stock.

9. Town is Thinking Small.

The most walkable towns are boldly stepping forward requiring maximum parking allowed, versus minimum required. Groceries and other important stores are not permitted to build above a reasonable square footage, must place the foot print of the structure to the street, etc. Palo Alto, for instance, caps their groceries at 20,000 square feet [0.2 ha]. This assures that groceries, drug stores and other important items are competitive at a size that is neighborhood friendly. Neighborhood schools are community centers. Older buildings are rebuilt in place, or converted to modern needs. Most parking is on-street.

10. In Walkable Communities There Are Many People Walking.

This sounds like a silly statement at first ... but think again. Often there are places that look walkable, but no one walks. Why? There is always a reason. Is it crime? Is it that there is no place to walk to, even though the streets and walkways are pleasant? Are the downtown stores not open convenient hours? You should be able to see a great diversity of those walking and bicycling. Some will be very young, some very old. People with disabilities will be common. Another clue, where people walk in great abundance virtually all motorists are courteous to pedestrians. It is true.

11. The Town and Neighborhoods have a Vision.

Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas are just three examples where neighborhood master plans have been developed. Honolulu sets aside about $1M per year of funds to be spent by each neighborhood. Visionary, master plans provide direction, build ownership of citizens, engage diverse people, and create opportunities for implementation, to get past sticky issues, and deal with the most basic, fundamental, necessary decisions and commitment. There are budgets set aside for neighborhoods, for sidewalks, trails, links, parks. The community no longer talks about where they will get the money, but how they will change their priorities.

12. Decision Makers Are Visionary, Communicative, and Forward Thinking.

The town has a strong majority of leaders who "get it". Leaders know that they are not to do all the work ... but to listen and respond to the most engaged, involved, broad minded citizens. They rarely are swayed by the anti-group, they seek the opinions and involvement big brush citizens and retailers. They are purposefully changing and building policies, practices, codes and decisions to make their towns pleasant places for people ... reinvesting in the town center, disinfesting in sprawl. These people know the difference between a green field, brown field and grey field. They know what Active Living by Design is all about.The regional government understands and supports the building of a town center, and is not attempting to take funds from the people at the center to induce or support sprawl. Often there is a charismatic leader on the town board, chamber of commerce, planning board, there is an architectural review team, a historic preservation effort, and overall good public process.

Check out the web site of the town ... if they focus on their golf courses, tax breaks, great medical services, scenic majestic mountains, or proximity to the sea ... fail to emphasize their neighborhood schools, world class library, lively downtown, focus on citizen participation ... they are lost, bewitched and bewildered in their own lust and lure of Walt Disney's Pleasure Island.

Walkability Campaigners - Dan Burden

Walk This Way - How One Man's Epiphany is Changing How America Walks. Jason Zasky. Failure Magazine

[Dan] Burden's recommendations go beyond adding sidewalks and providing space to walk safely. "The principles of becoming 'walkable' are really straightforward," begins Burden. "It's not just about sidewalks or being able to get across the street. It's really about putting things in the right place—to make sure you get your civic buildings, your plazas and your greatest retail, residential and commercial buildings all within walking scale—that is, a five-minute walk from the absolute center. "

Burden also advocates less space for cars instead of more. "Another principle is transferring space into place—taking out all of the parking lots, big wide intersections and streets," he says. "Everything has got to slow down. Nobody should be driving through a town center at faster than [40 km/h]. So you work on making something so attractive and intriguing that no one wants to drive fast."

Not every town and city in America is in need of an overhaul. "The central town area in West Hartford, Connecticut, is absolutely sterling," maintains Burden, who compliments everything from town's sidewalk surfaces to its on-street parking, window displays, outdoor cafes, streetlights and trees.

Pedestrian Friendly Streets

Taming the Automobile: How We Can Make Our Streets More "Pedestrian Friendly". Richard Untermann. Planners Web. 1991.11

[Car use], while improving access, has caused extensive pollution, ugliness, sprawl, congestion and the destruction of communities. During this time, many streets have been converted from attractive, liveable spaces, once shared by cars and pedestrians, to exclusive channels for motorized vehicles. New streets have regularly been constructed to look like highways: smooth and straight, and without sidewalks.

This trend is slowly being reversed. More American cities and towns are beginning to consciously make pedestrian improvements - adding sidewalks, planting trees, slowing automobiles, and encouraging street activities for pedestrians.

Measures

Sidewalks

Sidewalks should be at least five feet wide in residential neighborhoods; eight in commercial districts. They should be separated from moving traffic either by using planters, greenbelts, extra sidewalk width, or a row of parked cars.

Crosswalks

Crosswalk distances should be shortened wherever possible. This can be accomplished by narrowing traffic lanes at intersections, shortening curb radius, and extending sidewalks into the intersection with safecrosses -- raised sidewalks that project out into the end parking space at the intersection, where parking is usually prohibited. Separate right turn lanes should also be eliminated to narrow the crossing distance.

Every crosswalk should be clearly defined with striping, crosswalk signs and lighting. Striping signals drivers that pedestrians have rights. As a result, drivers tend to slow or stop (though some engineers believe that striping creates a false sense of security in pedestrians). Crosswalk signs also help give pedestrians priority; the signs cause drivers to slow down. Crosswalk signals should be set to operate "on demand" so pedestrians can cross within seconds of pushing the cross button.

The presence of "J" walkers should be considered a mark of a successful pedestrian street. When "J" walking occurs, it often means that eye contact between driver and pedestrian is possible. When "J" walking is not possible, and distances between intersections are great, midblock crosswalks may be helpful.

Crosswalks should penetrate out into the parking lane, allowing pedestrians to venture safely into the street space before crossing.

Traffic Speeds

For pedestrians to move safely and comfortably, cars must travel at slow enough speeds. Pedestrians simply can't compete with fast moving traffic, which to me means traffic in excess of 20 mph [32 km/h].

On-street parking

With on-street parking, drivers have to be more alert for vehicles parking or pulling out, thus tending to reduce their driving speed. Furthermore, pedestrian streets work best when there is on-street parking; a row of parked cars provides a good buffer between the sidewalk and traffic.

Angle parking works even better than parallel parking, because more cars can be accommodated in the same space, and motorists are even more alert to cars backing up.

Woonerfs

A woonerf is a street designed to simultaneously support walking, play, and through traffic. The design involves meandering the roadway surface, and adding trees, play structures, benches, and other street hardware. Pioneered by the Dutch, woonerfs work best where there is a network of streets that collectively can handle emergency and through traffic.

Traffic Constriction

Traffic constriction is another related approach. It might involve narrowing a street from two to one lane. This forces one driver to wait while the other oncoming driver passes through the constrictor. Experience shows it works: cars avoid the area, drivers slow down, and pedestrian comfort is improved.

Humanizing Arterial Streets

Our greatest challenge is humanizing arterial streets -- those fast moving roads that link our major goods and services. Wide lots and streets, acres of parking, the absence of sidewalks, and scattered auto-oriented shopping all make for a treacherous pedestrian environment.

[Main roads can be calmed by] narrowing the road at intersections; constructing wide sidewalks along main streets; adding sidewalks on streets leading to residential neighborhoods; encouraging commercial uses that serve pedestrians at major intersections; and changing land uses between intersections to reduce auto activity.

Mixed Land Use

The typical pattern in communities today is for working places, housing, and shopping to be geographically separated, [increasing] our dependence on the automobile, [and leading to] hazardous conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists. [It can be countered by creating] mixed use centers, containing residential, commercial, and office uses, at major intersections.

Walkable Streets - Oakland, California

Walkable Streets - A Toolkit for Oakland. Urban Ecology (US). 2004

A woman [from Oakland said] she walks her children the “long way” to [the elementary school]. The shortest and straightest route crosses wide, dangerous streets. So she leaves home early each day to shepherd her children the long way - just to be safe.

Oakland is a walkers' city. It has a lot of short, straight blocks, a great collection of vibrant neighborhoods, and beautiful destinations like Lake Merritt, Fruitvale and Jack London Square. These qualities mean Oakland has one of the highest walking rates in California. Unfortunately, it also has some of the highest rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. This is partly because there are more people walking. But it’s also because many Oakland streets are wide and hard to cross.

What is a walkable street?

Walkable streets are shared spaces. They are designed for all people, whether in cars, on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles. A walkable street makes you want to step outside. That means it has interesting things as you move along - trees, homes, people, apartment buildings. A walkable street doesn’t make you feel you are risking your life trying to cross it. It has sidewalks, benches, lighting, curb ramps and signals to help you cross easily. Finally, a walkable street leads to destinations you want to go, whether they be stores, the bus stop, [the train station], your job or a park.

Walkable Streets are not “anti-car.” Changing our approach to streets and roads doesn’t have to pit “motorists” against “pedestrians.” Over the past five decades, traffic engineers and city officials have tended to value moving traffic quickly over moving pedestrians safely and comfortably. Whether driving, walking or biking, we all need to get around safely. This includes pedestrians, drivers, transit riders, and bicyclists of all ages and physical abilities.

Walkable Neighborhoods

Ten Keys To Walkable Communities - Walkable Communities Create A Sense of Place and Promote Economic Development. Dan Burden

These walkable communities may not be seen as good places for cars, but they are very livable and worth finding. These towns are talked about, celebrated and loved for their uniqueness and ability to champion the natural environment and human spirit.

Buildings frame streets; block lengths are short. Merchants take pride in their shops' appearances. Great varieties of stores offer local products and services. Significant housing is found at downtown or village center sites. There is unique and distinct personality or character to the place.

People have choices of many routes from their homes to the center. The most direct paths are walking routes.

All sidewalks are five feet wide, or wider, and most are buffered from streets by planting strips, bike lanes or on-street parking. Well-maintained sidewalks are found on both sides of most arterial and collector roadways. Sidewalks are cleared during winter months if necessary. Most neighborhood streets have sidewalks on both sides.

Bike lanes are found on most principal streets. Streets with higher volume or speeds, almost always have bike lanes. Most streets have good ADA access to and from each block in all directions.

Most motorists behave well in the downtown or village center, and near schools, waterfronts, historic neighborhoods, parks and other public areas, yielding to pedestrians. Motorists make their turns at low speed. Few places force motorists to stop. Yield conditions are most common.

Most children are able to walk or bicycle to school and small nearby parks. There is limited or no busing of school children, and at least 40% of all school trips are by foot or bicycle. Most residents live within 1/2 mile (preferably 1/4 mile) of small parks or other well-maintained and attractive public spaces.

Many services and facility designs support and attract many children, teens, people with disabilities and senior citizens to most public spaces. Public restrooms, drinking fountains and sitting places are common in many parts of town, especially downtown.

Downtowns and village centers have frequent, convenient, well-designed street crossings. Pedestrians using these areas rarely have to walk more than [50 metres] from their direct lines-of-travel to reach crossings.

People crossing at intersections, whether signalized or not, rarely wait more than 30 seconds to start their crossings.

Streets are attractive, balanced, colorful, with sidewalks, planter strips, medians, (when appropriate) and handle a diversity of needs.

Many streets feature on street parking and larger volume streets have bike lanes.

Homes and buildings are brought forward, relating to the street. There is little or no off street parking.

Sidewalks are centered and surrounded with attractive edges, a planter strip to the street side, and an edge or attractive transition to the private property.

People understand and support compact development, urban infill, integral placement of mixed-use buildings, and mixed income neighborhoods.

The built environment is of human scale, with attributes that invite positive interaction and compliment the surrounding neighborhoods.

Heritage buildings and places are respected.

People understand that small, local stores help create community as well as convenience.

Residents desire and find ways to include affordable homes in most neighborhoods.

Transit connects centers of attraction with schedules so frequent that times need not be posted.

All residents feel they have choice of travel modes to most destinations.

Most people live within walking distance - 1/2 mile (with the majority within 1/4 mile) - of 40% of the services and products they need on daily or weekly basis. These services include small grocery, pharmacy, hardware, bank, "doc-in-a-box" medical services, day care, dry cleaning, post office and other essential services.

Streets, plazas, parks and waterfronts are fun, festive, secure, convenient, efficient, comfortable and welcoming places.

Suitable places exist to host parades or give public speeches; and many people take part in community parades, festivals, outdoor concerts and other public events.

Public space is tidy, well kept, respected and loved.

Many of these favorite places are surrounded by residential properties, with many eyes-on-the-streets to add security and ownership of these spaces.

These areas have many places to sit.

Few or no buildings have large blank walls, and few or no open parking lots exist off-street. Any existing parking lots have great edges and greens.

Natural beauty and quality of community environment are not only appreciated, but celebrated, with annual awards given to best developers, neighborhood parks, buildings, retailers, and private placement of new park benches.

Barbershop quartets, brass bands, string quartets, small dance troupes, local theater groups and other venues for community participation are alive and well.

People can find public places for practice, fun and spontaneous play.

The community has many "green" streets, with trees and landscaping. The town form respects the need for plenty of green and open space. Heritage trees line many streets. Development practices call for street trees and planter strips; homes are clustered to maximize green space. Trails and passageways through natural areas are featured in many parts of town.

Landscaping is respectful of place, often featuring native species, drought resistant plants, colorful materials, stone treatments or other local treats. In desert and high country areas, many methods are used to minimize use of water and other precious resources.

Many diverse people are walking in most areas of town. The community has no rules against loitering. Lingering in downtowns, village centers, schools, city hall, civic centers, waterfronts and other public places is encouraged and celebrated. Street musicians and entertainers are welcomed. Children rarely need to ask parents for transportation, especially to school, parks and downtown.

Links

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Centre (US)

Walkable Communities (US)

2007.7.16