The term “walkable” is a bit misleading when talking about the true subject matter of what currently defines walkable. The basic idea behind this term is applied to particular areas of a city that have a cluster of retail and residential structures. It also includes things such as public transportation, small community parks and wide sidewalks for the higher volume of pedestrian traffic.
So is your city or town walkable?
We certainly didn’t coin this phrase, but it is becoming more and more popular for cities such as San Francisco or Chicago to implement within their city structure, but what about the other cities and towns around the U.S. who don’t have the large condensed areas of residential and retail dwellers? Oh, and if you haven’t noticed, the previous links to San Fran and Chicago are the same site: www.walkableneighborhoods.com.
Let’s first look at what the key elements are to a city being more walkable.
1.) Pedestrian Friendly
- Sidewalks are wider
- Traffic calming implementation
- Pedestrian areas and paths only (no bikes or motorized vehicles)
- Don’t forget that those in wheelchairs will be sharing these paths and sidewalks also
- Shops and services clustered together
- Not just retail, but grocers also
- Public restrooms
3.) Public Transport
- Pedestrians can easily arrive and exit the clustered areas
- Reduces need(s) for large parking lots
- Lowers noise pollution
4.) Common Space
- Parks (mini and large if possible)
- Benches for resting and “people watching”
- Mini fountains possibly
- Shaded areas for rest/relaxtion
- Trees for shading as mentioned above
- Flowers to admire but not to pick
- Easy to walk on paths for people of all ages made of recycled rubber would be an idea
6.) Community Presence
- Organizations that help keep areas clean
- People needed to plan events & activities
- Someone to ensure the area is advertised
But what if you’re in a town such as where gonink is located in northeast Indiana? Now you have a rural setting where neighbors can be as far away as one mile or right next door in a small neighborhood. Can all of the above points be implemented in a town as small as ours? Not immediately, but the smaller towns are at an advantage. They still have open real estate to grow their ‘green’ ideas for the future.
So take a moment, look at your city as ask yourself Is It Walkable? And let us know what your city or town has done to make things more walkable and earth friendly.