Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It seems we have gotten serious about proving the benefits of walking. What a better way to grab people's attention than letting them know that a high walk score could add value to your home (have we learned nothing from the housing bubble). As an advocate for more walkable cities and neighborhoods whatever works to get more people thinking about walkability and then actually walking is a plus in my book. Here is a quote from a NY Times story:

REAL estate agents often chant the mantra “location, location, location,” which essentially means “find a home in a well-kept neighborhood with good schools and a low crime rate.”

Homes with above-average “walkability” had higher values, a study found. Some may cite a fourth factor, “walkability,” a concept supported by self-styled “new urbanists” who advocate denser cities designed for the pedestrian and mass transit as much as for the car. In their ideal neighborhood, you could walk to a bookstore and then to an ice cream shop, and your children could walk to school, probably unescorted. (It sounds like so many movie depictions of America in the 1950s.)

They argue that walkability lowers crime — that good people on the streets drive away the bad guys — and that it generally improves life and sharply raises home values. Whether it helps homes retain their value when the market slumps, however, seems a harder question to answer.

Will higher real estate values actually get people walking more? While I live in a neighborhood with a good walk score, will this trend really have a national impact on getting people our of their cars and on foot? While I wish I could believe it, I think we will need a lot more that a walk score to change our habits.

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