walkable neighborhood, pedestrian light

Five Reasons To Live in a Walkable Neighborhood

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The team here at moss prides itself on trying to find alternate modes of getting from A to B whenever possible.  Some of us walk to work, others bike whenever the weather (meaning the vortex) permits and we are just a few blocks from the nearest “L” station.  We also bike and walk from the moss HQ to meetings with our clients whenever possible.  We love how accessible and walkable our neighborhood and city can be.  Here’s why you, too, really want to live in a walkable neighborhood:  

1. You’ll be happier

Treehugger reports a University of New Hampshire which found that “those living in more walkable neighborhoods trusted their neighbors more; participated in community projects, clubs and volunteering more; and described television as their major form of entertainment less than survey participants living in a less walkable neighborhood.”

2. You’ll be healthier

In David Suzuki’s appeal to pry people out of their cars (he calls it “breaking an addiction”), he quotes a number of great facts about the benefits of moving around under your own power.  He reminds us that walking burns calories and that “Thirty minutes of walking per day cuts the risk of heart disease by up to half, and reduces the risk of some cancers, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.”  

Ahem: Make that you’ll be healthier AND SO WILL YOUR KIDS

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in 30 years and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute  believes that where a child lives (and their access to activity and nutritious food) is a key factor in whether they are likely to be clinically overweight.  Walkenomics.com summarizes the study: “Children who lived in walkable areas, with a child-friendly park nearby and access to healthy food had 59% lower odds of being obese.  Kids that lived in car-dependent neighborhoods with more fast food outlets had the highest levels of obesity.”

3. You’ll be more efficient

No one likes being trapped by a dead end.  Walkable neighborhoods give you easy access to more of your area as is shown so clearly in this pair of images from the Sightline Institute which compare the Phinney Ridge area (a very walkable neighborhood) in Seattle with nearby suburban Bellevue.  In both, the blue lines show one mile of walking distance from the center star.

walking distance

4. Saving money on transit will make your whole lifestyle more affordable

Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology charts how transit costs associated with house location make a house more or less affordable overall with their Housing and Transportation Affordability Index .  The snazzy mapping tool  shows two parallel views which compare straight up housing cost/income with the combined transportation costs AND housing in their calculations of how expensive certain areas are to live in.

5. You’ll be less likely to loose your shirt … and home

Walkablility is linked to reduced rates of mortgage defaulting.  Streetsblog has the report by University of Arizona professor, Gary Pivo, who found correlations between walkability (and six other “sustainability variables”) with fewer foreclosures in an area.  Some of his amazingly strong findings:

Walk commute: Every increase of 5 percentage points in the percent of residents who walk to work decreased the risk of default by 15%

Retail presence: Where there were at least 16 retail establishments nearby, the risk of default decreased by 34.4%

All this, by the way,  totally busts up the old location theory of “drive till you qualify” which suggested that home buyers find the suburb of their dreams by starting from their workplaces driving until they went far enough that they could qualify for a mortgage (and get the most grandiose house for their money while they were at it).  Even the National Mortgage News says that this concept just doesn’t just doesn’t fit in with current housing trends.

So what are you waiting for?  Get off your keister and start walking.  Feel free to share your feelings with us in the comments section before you head out.