February 28, 2007

Walkable Neighborhoods

What does the phrase city planning conjur up in your mind? If you're like most folks I come across, you have one of two reactions. Either your eyes glaze over and you visualize boring suits at ineffectual hearings making pointless decisions for the rest of us, or you think of traffic jams, road rage, no parking and chain stores.

Either way, if you think city planning doesn't affect you, think again. Every step you take outside your house is impacted by the folks who planned and created your built environment. There was a great example of this in a recent edition of the SF Chronicle. The article in question discusses how the residents of the New Urbanist community in Hercules, CA aren't in walking distance of a local coffee shop. They have to get in their cars to run to the corner store. That's not just inefficient, it's bad for the environment.

I brought up the benefits of walkable neighborhoods long before I came across the Walkable Neighborhoods blog. Although apparently somewhat commercial in nature (the group works to link realtors with homeowners who value a walkable community), it offers really great insights into the benefits and possibilities of neighborhoods that encourage residents to interact with their environment and, ultimately, each other.

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4 Comment(s)

Anonymous walkable said...

Hey, thanks for the shoutout about our website. While we certainly are commercial in nature when it comes to the real estate program, I more so consider us an advocacy group. The referral network is to help people find neighborhoods and, to be honest, help keep the lights on over our head.

I want our site to be a resource of as many creative ideas as possible to try to improve walkability.

Planning really does affect people, and there's a lot of bad planning and engineering in most cities I would say. That's why it's important to educate the public about becoming engaged in the process of creating more livable communities. There's a lot of talk about making places walkable, but not many people truly know how to do it. I hope we can make a difference in solving these issues!

11:32 PM  
Blogger Webomatica said...

Urban planning has impacted where my wife and I choose to live. I rely on mass transit to get to and from work and don't want to live farther than walking distance to the train station nor from a downtown area. I think more people are realizing that getting in your car just to get a latte is silly, not to mention expensive!

12:06 PM  
Blogger Jessie Jane said...

This is true—and I think more city planners and builders are recognizing it, too, as cities continue to fill up.

Keep an eye on the Small Failures home page, as Eric from Walkable Neighborhoods will be offering some great insight into this issue.

—JJ

2:47 PM  
Blogger Dani Nordin said...

I've actually made it a habit to live in a walkable neighborhood for a few years now, and I love it. But what tends to bug me about the new breed of walkable neighborhoods I'm seeing crop up is that it loses the independent spirit of the other walkable neighborhoods I've been in. I'm a huge fan of villages - little areas full of small independent stores and eateries. The new ones (at least in Providence, which has been doing a lot in terms of this stuff lately) are basically condo complexes inside a strip mall, complete with Subway, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts AND Taco Bell. There's dissapointingly few independents.

9:15 PM  

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