As you embark on a greener 2011, there’s something you should take into consideration. Are you living in a walkable neighborhood and what affect can walkable living can have on the environment? Now, before I go on, there are many things we can and probably should do in order to make 2011 greener than 2010. But one that has the potential for great impact is walkable living.
Image by Edgar Zuniga Jr.
If you aren’t familiar with walkable living it is essentially living in an area where you can walk to businesses, public transportation, schools, etc. Some of the factors which are considered in order to make a neighborhood walkable include:
- Having a main center or section of the neighborhood, whether that be a main street, a park or a central square.
- People is actually a factor as you have to have enough people living in the neighborhood to warrant frequent public transportation and for businesses to succeed.
- You need mixed income and mixed use. Basically affordable living near local businesses. This of course can be in the same building or nearby.
- Plenty of parks and open spaces for people to gather and enjoy.
- Schools and workplaces within walking distance of most residential living.
- Pedestrian-friendly design. Making businesses close to the main streets while areas such as parking lots are behind buildings.
- Sidewalks and streets designed to accommodate pedestrians and bikes, yet still be amenable to public transportation.
Image by Pecia!
Walkscore.com has a great system by which to determine whether or not your particular neighborhood is “walkable”. They grade areas as follows:
- 90-100 percent is considered “Walker’s Paradise”
- 70-89 percent is “Very Walkable”
- 50-69 percent is “Somewhat Walkable”
- 25-49 percent is pretty much “Car-Dependent”
- 0-24 percent, well, as you can guess you are definitely “Car-Dependent”
All you have to do is type in your address and away you go. When I tried it out it came up with “Somewhat Walkable”, which makes total sense for where I live. There are some amenities within walking distance, but others require me to drive. What is your neighborhoods’ walkability? Check it out and see your city’s “walk score”.
Image by skunks
Here’s another thing to consider…would you move to a more walkable neighborhood? Why or why not? Did you know that a study found that people who live in walkable communities are happier? Additionally research shows that walkable neighborhoods come with an increase in social benefits such as trust between neighbors, more community-wide activities, etc.
So, if walkable living can increase happiness, health, improve air quality, lower emissions and help with overall quality of life, don’t you think it’s the environmentally-friendly way to live?