The Importance of Walkability
If you follow us on Facebook, you may have noticed a post we shared from FastCoExist.com. It was all about the walkable streets and the importance walking has on our lives. From our physical and mental health to increasing land and property values, using walking as your main form of transportation has some major benefits. (But we still love the idea of autonomous vehicles!)
The article from FastCoExist gives 50 reasons why every town should promote walkability. But first, what does “walkability” mean? We can all pretty much walk anywhere we so choose, but the idea of a walkable town is that it’s planned with the purpose and intent of residents and guests being able to walk to wherever they need in a reasonable amount of time.
We’d like to share this video from Jeff Speck, a city planner that speaks to the importance of walkability in cities and the worst idea we’ve ever had in Amercia: suburban sprawl.
What is Walkability?
Walk Score, a company dedicated to promoting walkable neighborhoods, gives a great explanation of walkability and what the entails for a town.
“Walk Score measure the walkability of any address using a patented system. For each address, Walk Score analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance of amenities in each category.”
They break the official Walk Score down into a few major categories:
- Walker’s Paradise – daily errands do not require a car
- Very Walkable – most errands can be accomplished on foot
- Somewhat Walkable – some errands can be accomplished on foot
- Car Dependent – most/all errands require a car
One of the major goals of Babcock Ranch will be to ensure that Downtown Babcock and Founders Square will be easily accessible to patrons on foot. We’re designing our town and surrounding neighborhoods so that residents and guests will not only be able to walk wherever they need to walk, but that they will want to walk to run their errands.
We love all the reasons why everyone should want more walkable streets from FastCoExist and we figured we’d share our favorites and elaborate their meanings for Babcock Ranch.
Walkability Encourages a Healthier Lifestyle
It’s been reported countless times how healthy walking is for the mind, body, and soul. Physical activity on a regular basis helps us to clear our heads, get our hearts pumping, and overall, release hormones that promote a positive mood. It’s no secret that exercise of any kind has amazing effects on our physical and mental health, which is our #1 reason for creating a walkable town in South Florida.
Sense of Place
We believe in the importance of Civitas – a basic hometown pride and a calling to participate and belong. Civitas also touches on the idea of “sense of place” within a town. Think of your small hometown. Imagine the summers you spent walking “into town” to check out the general store, grab a bite at the local diner, and pick up an ice cream cone at the local shop. When you walked down the sidewalk in your small town, you likely ran into neighbors and friends. Walkability – a concept that many Florida towns haven’t accounted for – promotes a sense of place by allowing you to revisit that hometown feeling.
More Walking, Less Fuel-Powered Transportation
We’re all aware of the impact millions of cars have on our environment. According to Fortune, today’s cars are parked 95% of the time. That means we drive our cars to get where we need to go – just for a short while – and leave them parked. If they’re parked, they’re not hurting the environment at that time, however, what if we created a town where you didn’t need your car at all? What if you could walk to school, to work, to the local coffee shop?
At Babcock, that’s exactly the lifestyle we want to encourage. Of course, vehicles will be welcome and will be a part of our society for many years to come, however, we want to lead the way in terms of creating a walkable lifestyle for our residents and guests. Let’s turn that extra space from parked cars into parks for our kids to play.
Are you from a walkable town? Would you move to a walkable town? Leave your thoughts or questions in the comments!