Monday, 21 April 2014

What is a walkable community?

There are six key elements essential to making a community walkable, courtesy of Canada Walks:

Accessibility - the pedestrian infrastructure is appropriate for people of all ages and abilities including those with limited mobility. Examples include sidewalks wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers, curb cuts for sidewalks and trails, and crosswalks allowing ample time for children and those with mobility challenges to cross safely.

Density/Land Use - medium density areas have a mix of housing types allowing for a higher number of people than areas of low density with predominantly single family dwellings. Mixed use areas have a mixture of residential units, stores, schools, restaurants, and other services. Having at least medium density and a mixture of land use types is essential for walkability. A higher density makes public transit feasible, which in turn promotes walking.

Access to amenities - In a walkable community, the school, grocery store, community centre, park, library, and other amenities and services including access to public transit are a short walking distance from your home. Having the appropriate density and land use mix makes it easier to have access to amenities.

Connectivity - good connectivity occurs when sidewalks, pathways, and trails connect one area to another in a neighbourhood and when adjoining neighbourhoods are connected to each other as well as to amenities in a direct manner.

Aesthetics - a walkable community is attractive to travel through on foot and invites further exploration. The aesthetics that make a community walkable include landscaping, shade trees, lighting, public art, availability of benches, public washrooms, shelter, attractive buildings and public spaces (plazas and parks). Cleanliness and a lack of graffiti are also important.

Safety along Walking Routes - key aspects of safety along walking routes include separation from the road, traffic calming features to control speed of vehicles, clear and well maintained sidewalks, well-marked crossings, adequate lighting, crossing signals designed with the abilities of the most vulnerable in mind.