What is Walkability and why is it so cool?
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. Construction of a walkable community provides the most affordable and equitable transportation system any community can plan, design, build and maintain. Walkable communities return urban environments to scale, pattern and mix for sustainability of resources (both natural and economic). They lead to more social interaction, physical fitness, diminished crime, and increased wellness, addressing many social and economic problems. Walkable communities are more liveable built environments and lead to whole, happy, healthy lives for the people who live in them. Walkabile communities attract and keep jobs, young adults, families, children and grandchildren.
How Can I Find and Help Build a Walkable Community?
Why Walkability Now?
Global, national, regional and local economies are changing. Mass consumption and ever growing traffic are out; sustainable systems are in. Many corporate leaders, who are looking to expand or change locations, are looking less for towns offering start up breaks, and more for locations where they and their middle managers want to live, raise families and retire. Walkable and livable communities attract and retain many of the best professionals, and this attribute expands jobs for working and service class residents. Today, millenials seek great towns and places to live first, they shop for good employment with companies they respect... or they start new enterprises in order to live there. Walkable communities call for vibrant leadership collaboration, not just good management teams. Walkable communities are organic, sometimes a bit messy and slightly unorganized at first, but they are places where people want to work together for better communities, the kind of places where Jane Jacobs would live. PAGE ONE
According to Julie Campoli, Author of Made for Walking, design details for walkability follow "five D's and one P."" In order to achieve high levels of walkability and livability, a town must focus on: Destination Accessibility (walking scale), Diversity (mix of uses), Density (sufficient people so that costs are contained), Design, Distance to Transit, and Parking (better managed). Although walking calls for many details (street connectivity and low vehicle speeds are great places to start), we emphasize that walking will not come by building more sidewalks and crossings. Walkability calls for holistic and complete town making. No single act, approach, focus or effort will make a town walkable. Each act adds to the whole. Our web site, has a 12-step program for defining and achieving or strengthening community walkability. (Insert link here) PAGE THREE
Principles of Walkability
Walkability focuses on neighborhood or village scale development, with many nearby places to go and things to do. Truly walkable communities are characterized by much more than good sidewalks and street crossings; they include many attributes: a mix of uses, frequent street connections and pedestrian links, timeless ways of designing and placing buildings. They create desirable places to spend time in, to meet others. All core principles for succesful towns and cities evolved naturally from earliest times (cities were first built about 6,000+ years ago) and were practiced until about 100 years ago. Only then were these principles abandoned for "modern" patterns based on increased personal mobility. The most thriving cities are now returning to the time-honored principles. Why? More than 80% of North Americans want to live in walkable neighborhoods, towns and cities, but only a small percentage of them have all the right qualities. PAGE TWO
Walkability in Process
In the years since 1996, Dan Burden has been perfomring walkable work through the non-profit Walkable Communities, Inc. and other organizations. He has worked alongside many of North America's best change agents: politicial leaders, city managaers, public works directors, planners and advocates. Dan always finds passion-driven teams in communitiess ready for change. What he also finds in all successful places is coordinated, collaborative, sustainable efforts that are focused on people with well informed residents and citizens. We now have many great examples and good templates for all communities.PAGE FOUR
Dan Burden is currently the Director of Innovation and Inspiration at Blue Zones, LLC. You can reach him at email@example.com.
If your community seeks transformative change, contact us for ideas, advice, references, links or field/production services. Dan works both directly on Blue Zones (BZ) projects on the built environments and through BZ on assignments throughout North America in neighborhoods, towns or cities of all sizes and scales for all related walkability and livability assignments.
Samantha Thomas is both the Built Environment Director for Blue Zones LLC, and also the scheduler for all of Dan Burden's work. firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is shown here leading a walking audit in Chicago. Samantha is an urban designer and planner by trade, and a passion-driven change maker by craft. Please click here to make contact.
Dan and Samantha not only conduct work for Blue Zones LLC, they continue to do all walkability and livability assignments that Walkable Communities, Inc. has been known for since 1996. They help transform small towns to large cities throughout North America, to help them return to places of heart. If you seek added ways to make your neighborhood, development project, town or city more livable, healthy and prosperous, give us a call.