Sidewalks and Walkability
Using a walkability metric to evaluate a community and guide development can help create stronger, more sustainable communities.
Walkable neighborhoods require less driving, which cuts greenhouse gas and other emissions. They also benefit residents by increasing opportunities for exercise, reducing their need to use fuel and allowing them to spend more time near their home. Another advantage of walkable communities is that they facilitate interactions with neighbors, which in turn creates social capital and safer communities.
Evaluation is a critical step to improving an area's walkability. Pedestrian-oriented communities tend to have their own business centers, which local residents frequent because of convenience and a feeling of connection. These communities are more sustainable by definition, as business is retained in the community, and residents do not need to rely on automobiles for all trips.
Measuring walkability requires moderate effort, depending on the size of the area to be investigated. A significant investment of time is needed to gather data and document existing conditions.
The benefits of improving a community's walkability are many. Among them are the creation of stronger, more vibrant communities, reduced greenhouse gas and other emissions and stronger support for local businesses.
- Community groups
- Policymakers and local government officials
- Business community
- Zoning officials
Greenhouse gases are a part of the Earth's atmosphere and are both naturally occurring and the result of human chemical processes. The most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluourocarbons. These gases trap heat and thus contribute to the warming of the planet. See also CFCS and GREENHOUSE EFFECT.