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Walkable Cities

Summary: Modern American cities are designed to be convenient for cars. A walkable city prioritizes getting around on foot. It can be a safer, more attractive, healthier environment for people and walking is the original zero-emissions mode of transport.

The everyday decisions of planning departments are what contribute to or take away from walkability. Here are some options to think about from Drawdown:

  • Increased density of buildings helps, so that homes, workplaces and shopping are close together. People drive 20% to 40% less when development is compact.
  • The condition of sidewalks is very important. Are they narrow, badly lighted, cracked and uneven? Do they stop suddenly, so that some sections of a walk are not safe? Remember that users of sidewalks might have strollers or walkers.
  • When pedestrians have to interact with vehicles at crossings, is pedestrian safety and convenience a priority? Wide streets can be made into boulevards, bulb-outs can give pedestrians more safe space to stand, and visibility can be improved.
  • Good connections to Mass Transit let people who need to go longer distances walk to stations rather than drive.

Vision Zero and Safe Routes to School are nation-wide programs promoting pedestrian safety which can be adopted by local jurisdictions.

Goal: Improve walkability in cities and towns in order to reduce driving.

Existing Programs