Every time I look for a new place to live, one of my top “must-haves” is being able to walk everywhere I need to go. The grocery store, my yoga studio, coffee shops, restaurants, bars – you name it. As it turns out, I’m not alone. According to the National Association of Realtors, commute time and places to walk are two of the top three most important community characteristics buyers look for when shopping for a new home.
Having spent nearly a decade living in Chicago, I was in for a rude awakening when I packed up and moved to Los Angeles. According to a study on walkable urbanism in America’s 30 largest metropolitan areas, Chicago ranks fifth, just behind San Francisco, Boston, New York, and D.C. If the horrendous traffic is any indication, it should come as no surprise that Los Angeles didn’t perform very well.
Luckily, many of the U.S. metros that ranked low (including Los Angeles) have a high potential for walkable urbanism. Though costly up front, a metro that transforms into a walkable urban space can lead to fast economic growth and sprawling development. Worth it? I think so.
From an increase in social capital to decreased crime rates, walkable urban places (WalkUPs) have a number of benefits.
The following infographic takes a look at a few of them in detail: