Once upon a time, cities were built with walking in mind, but these days, communities are built with cars in mind, which comes with certain disadvantages.
According to Charles L. “Chuck” Marohn, Jr., author of “Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity,” when neighborhoods are walkable, communities and the people in them thrive. Here, Marohn outlines a few of the many benefits of walkable communities:
Walkable communities are good for the economy. In concentrated, walkable neighborhoods lined with shops and restaurants, passersby are far more likely to frequent multiple businesses than if they drive to a specific store in an auto-oriented area. When those businesses are locally owned (as they often are), economic gains stay in the community. And walkable neighborhoods demonstrate far greater tax revenue per square foot than any other type of development.
Walkability can be more affordable. The price of owning and driving a car adds up: insurance, gas, repairs, possible monthly payments, etc. Walkable communities put necessities within reach without having to rely on a car.
Walkability means accessibility. For those who can’t drive—including the elderly, the disabled, and children—a walkable neighborhood means children can walk to school, wheelchair users can wheel to work, and seniors can walk to the grocery store.
Walkable communities are good for you. An obvious benefit of walkability is that it’s good for your health. Our car-centric culture has led to a lack of physical activity and rising obesity rates. When communities encourage walking instead of driving, our well-being will benefit.
Walkability builds community. With more of us out of our homes and offices and into the streets, as opposed to our cars, we’ll see our neighbors more often and start building an important sense of community that’s often lacking in today’s world.