The folks at Walkscore.com have come up with a great way for the people of our global community to view what makes their neighborhood walkable. With lists of the most walkable cities, reasons to live in walkable areas and what makes an area not walk-friendly, Walkscore.com shows you the answers. The obvious urban core of DC and the structure of the grid, it is no surprise that under the list of America’s most walkable cities, Washington, DC ranks number 7 of 10. This placement is phenomenal for people who want to live work and play all at a walkable distance. With areas such as Dupont Circle, Adam’s Morgan, Logan’s Circle and the U Street Corridor all rated as a “walker’s paradise,” Washington DC sits at the top of healthy living hot spots and these great walkable ratings radiate out into many of the districts of Northern Virginia in close proximity to DC.
As an example, Arbour Realty is located in Ballston in Alexandria with a walk score of 94 out of 100 making it a “walker’s paradise” to live in the Ballston area. To live in a highly walkable area, you must be in an area that supplies housing to those who live in the area, shopping and restaurants as well as entertainment areas and greenspace. It just so happens that someone who lives just around the corner at the Residences at Liberty Center could walk down to Marvelous Market and grab a loaf of bread and some coffee, or step across the street to the Mall and shop for whatever they need, and be within close access to one of the eight nearby schools. All of these conveniences are within a relatively small amount of space thereby making this area of Ballston a walker’s paradise.
What makes a city walkable you ask? Walkscore.com answers: ” The cities at the top of Walk Score rankings have density, mixed use, transit, short blocks and almost everything on our walkablity checklist.”
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernible center, whether it’s a shopping district, a main street, or a public space.
- Density: The neighborhood is compact enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other.
- Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back.
- Nearby schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
Why would you want to walk? Aside from the obvious health related answer, WalkScore.com lists four other great reasons to live in a walkable neighborhood: Reduction of greenhouse gas, more transportation options, increased social capital, and my favorite option stronger local businesses. “Dense walkable neighborhoods provide local businesses with the foot traffic they need to thrive.” By supporting the local businesses around where you live, you can boost your local economy and have a vibrant community.