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