Walkable Streets: Why Do We Need a Quality Pedestrian Environment?

By Dom Nozzi, AICP

There is much well-deserved talk in recent years of the pressing importance of creating “Complete Streets” in communities. That is, streets designed not just for cars, but also for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, and the handicapped.

But if we were to select one form of travel to efficiently and effectively improve community quality of life, public health, civic pride, conviviality, happiness, safety and independence for seniors, young children and the handicapped, our local economy, as well as achieving a lower tax burden, that form of travel—that lynchpin—would be walking. Indeed, the pedestrian is the design imperative – particularly in town centers, but also in all other parts of a community.

A quality transit system is nearly impossible without a high-quality walking environment. Lovable building architecture
unavoidably slips away when a community is not walkable. Walkability inevitably delivers human-scaled design, which
town designers have long recommended as a recipe for place-making. For convenient, sustainable town design. It is no coincidence that nearly all of the greatest cities in the world boast a high quality pedestrian environment. One could go as far as
to say that the walkability of such cities is the fundamental reason why these cities are superb, and loved the world over.

It is no coincidence that studies have recently found that those societies which walk regularly are those societies whose citizens are the most long-lived on earth. It is no coincidence that the most walkable communities were those which best weathered the
recent housing and economic downturns. If you seek to make your city great, the first place to start is by making your city exceptionally walkable. Walkability creates communities we are compelled to cherish, celebrate and protect.

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Filed under New Urbanism: Timeless, Traditional, Walkable Design

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