Posted by: Matt Haynes | September 30, 2009

The Value of Walkability

Walkability has been in the news alot this year.  It even has its own Wikipedia entry and an iPhone app.  And over the past few months, several articles or studies have reported findings on the benefits of walkable neighborhoods.  They have ranged from more general discussions to fairly detailed statistical analyses of neighborhood characteristics and their relationship property values. 

WalkingWalkability refers to the quality of walking in a given area and is typically measured in terms of the comfort, safety and convenience of walking.  Some measures of walkability such as Walkscore tend to focus more on the convenience of walking, measured in terms of the number of commercial establishments within walking distance.  Other measures tend to focus on all three, accounting for pedestrian collision history and physical attributes of sidewalks and crosswalks. Measures are also sometimes further broken down into the walkability of walking along a street and the walkability of crossing the street. 

One walkability study, published in August, using home sale records of 90,000 recent sales, found positive correlations between walkability and home prices in 13 of 15 regions studied.  Walkability in this case was measured by Walkscore (which calculates a property’s proximity to restaurants, schools, parks, and other amenities, assigning a score from zero to 100 depending on how many are within walking distance). 

Another study by the University of Arizona, also released in August, found similar results and also used Walkscore to conduct walkability calculations.  Among other findings, it noted that a 10 point increase in walkability resulted in a 5 to 8 percent increase in property values. 

Earlier in the year, walkability made the news when the real estate website Zillow began including Walkscore ratings in its search results.  In addition to all of the Walkscore based ratings, which are found in numerous permutations due to its freely available API, several articles have ranked cities according to their walking environment, including this one by Prevention magazine and another by Chris Leinberger. 

The recent attention to walkability is great news.  Hopefully this will lead to an increased interest in improving walking conditions as a whole, not only by improving the number of walking destinations but also by improving the safety and comfort of walking from point A to point B.

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Responses

  1. As an upcoming transportation engineer, walkability within a neighborhood is a great concern for disabled people. Those with physical impairment in the lower body need a safe and comfortable sidewalk to walk on. Although funds are scarce, improvement in many sidewalks need to done for the sake of those that need it. In the neighbhorhoods I lived in, sidewalks was so badly damaged. The ground was uneven that chances are high that one could fall if they aren’t looking where they are going. For me, I had to adjust my walking because the sidewalks are not up to standards. I have to be watch my every step and adjust because the ground was so uneven. This could be a potential hazard for the disabled if not dealt with.


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