Walkability – What is it Worth?

In recent years, Walkability has become one of the most important goals that cities and communities strive for and with the increasing popularity of new metrics like walkscore and walk appeal, it is easier than ever for people to identify and determine walkable neighborhoods.  Many people moving to new homes or apartments often look at the walkscore of their potential new neighborhood but what makes a walkable neighborhood valuable?  How valuable is walkability?

Intuitively, Walkability is important as a part of sustainable growth for an area. Walkable neighborhoods promote active transportation (thus better public health), aesthetically better shopping areas (compared to strip malls), and are more environmentally friendly by limiting automobile emissions.  Finally, walkable neighborhoods promote higher densities as less space is needed for automobiles.  Although these characteristics of walkable neighborhoods are desirable, they are not financially quantifiable and thus make it difficult for developers invest in.

A Walkable Neighborhood in Philadelphia
(Photo courtesy of VisitPhilly.com)

A recent report by the Brookings Institute examines the economic value of walkable neighborhoods.  The report, “Walk this Way: The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, DC” shows that neighborhoods with greater walkability perform better economically, and have higher property values for office, retail, and residential properties.  Moreover, the property values of walkable neighborhoods increased more than automobile dependent neighborhoods.

Simply put, walkable neighborhood development is economically feasible and improves the quality of a place.

The City of Philadelphia is increasing the walkability of its neighborhood through the Complete Streets Campaign.  Incorporating a Complete Streets approach to Philadelphia neighborhoods will ensure that pedestrians can easily and safely reach all their destinations.

For more information:

“Walk this Way: The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, DC”

New York Times: Now Coveted: A Walkable Convenient Place


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