Jun 11, 2020

Why We Need Walkable Neighborhoods


Elsie McCord

By Elsie McCord

In case you've been living under a rock, walkable neighborhoods are becoming increasingly popular in the real estate market. In fact, the National Association of Realtors reports that 62% of millennials — the generation fast becoming the face of homeownership — prefer a walkable community rather than having to commute.

But a walkable neighborhood is more than just a buzzword, as it signifies positive changes in a community's urban planning and ultimately, the overall wellbeing of its residences. Below, we take a closer look at why we need more walkable neighborhoods.


IMAGE CREDIT: [Asael Peña, Unsplash] - No changes were made to the image/images


It supports public health and safety

Most neighborhoods in the country are dominated by lots of cars. Not only does this make it difficult for pedestrians to move around, but it also has costly effects on the environment. For instance, CBS cites a 2018 Air Quality Report from Central Texas revealing that traffic was the biggest contributor to air pollution in their region. Simply put, the more cars present in a neighborhood, the more dangerous it becomes for residents to go about. This is why it's vital to implement walkable solutions, such as proper parking space, clear pedestrian design, and enhanced curb access.

As we've previously shared in our post on 'Empowering Cities with Scalable Curb Management', better curb management leads to improved mobility, safety, and sustainability. Your neighborhood is your home, and you should be able to walk in it without worrying about your health and safety.


It encourages people to exercise

These days, we spend a great amount of time just sitting down — whether it's spending time in the car stuck in traffic or simply lazing the day away in our home. Americans are indeed more sedentary than ever, as findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys show that 16% of participants sit down for six hours a day, while not getting enough physical activity. But a walkable neighborhood can help turn things around, as better sidewalks and more pedestrian spaces can encourage people to go out for a walk or jog, and even travel by foot.


It promotes good health

When we think of ways of combating illnesses, we usually think of gyms and diets, but it goes much deeper than that. Case in point: Chronic disease is a serious matter for all individuals. In fact, projections from Maryville University health experts foresee that as many as 164 million Americans will be affected by some sort of illness by 2025. This definitely has the potential to overwhelm our healthcare system as we know it. But gyms and diets aren’t the only way to prevent disease, as our homes and communities play a key role in our physical health, too.

As explained in a study from the University of Toronto, people who live in unwalkable neighborhoods are less active and more prone to developing chronic diseases. With more spaces to perform physical activities, a walkable neighborhood can create an environment that's conducive for everyone's health and curb the rise of serious lifestyle diseases.


It boosts property values

While walkability is often associated with its influence outside, it also directly affects the property value of houses in the neighborhood. This is because key factors of walkable neighborhoods — such as better safety, more accessibility, and even less noise pollution — all equate to higher property values. In today's market, people are putting greater emphasis on how liveable the conditions of their 

neighborhood are. True enough, real estate company Redfin points out that cities that had increased their walkability score also saw their home values soar by an average of 12%.


It strengthens the community

In an unwalkable neighborhood, one of the most affected members of the community are local businesses. Whether it's the shortage of parking spots or the difficulty of getting around, this situation can drive customers away.

In contrast, local businesses can see more foot traffic in a walkable neighborhood because they become safer and more accessible for residents to visit. On top of this, when a local business attracts more customers, the community comes together, too. An appealing restaurant, café, or market enables customers to stay longer, and therefore are given more opportunities to interact with each other and have a stronger sense of community.


Elsie McCord

After completing her degree in engineering, Elise now devotes her time to freelance writing. When she’s not busy reading up on the latest news about urban planning, you can find her taking a nice walk outside with her young son in her local neighborhood.