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Image of the Day: Walkable Communities

Walkable communities are the no-brainer, urban design solution of the decade. But couching things in lofty design terms can make a simple idea -- like a pleasant stroll past your favorite coffee shop on the way to work -- sound like a New Age-y cause of the week. This video from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) makes a clear, succinct case that's easy to understand. Planning communities that are dense and walkable, like the one shown in the video, allows residents to live within walking distance of grocery stores, office spaces, libraries and schools, helping them decrease their carbon emissions, build close-knit communities and improve their physical and mental health.

Read more about walkable communities in our archives:
My Other Car is a Bright Green City
Walkability leads to Walking
Green? Dense? Walkable?

Thanks to John Brown at Slow Home, for bringing this great video to our attention.

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Interesting note:

The highway images were all filmed near I-75/I-85 in Atlanta near 17th Street. This is where the Atlantic Station dense urban multiuse development was recently built (the yellow bridge you see at one point during the film, looking very complete, was built as part of the Atlantic Station development).

So, the CDC used shots from one of the few "live-work" portions of the Atlanta area to illustrate the commuter lifestyle. This is amusing but not misleading since the traffic-flow was Northbound, towards the northern commuter counties.

I just hope that we in Atlanta can build more areas like Atlantic Station, especially if a few of those developments have reasonable home costs.

Posted by: Bill on 18 Nov 08

I live in a somewhat walkable community in Atlanta. It's about a 7 minute walk to a grocery store and a ton of other retail areas. There is a cute shopping area with bars and restaurants about a mile away and a MARTA stop that's a short walk, too. Here is the thing...distance-wise, it's totally walkable. Safety-wise, it's a little questionable. I've been mugged on my short walk home (on my very own street :(). In a neighborhood not far from me, there have recently been women abducted and folks forced into cars and driven to ATMs where they were forced to take out money before being abandoned.

I guess my point is that walkability is about more than proximity. It's about safety. I am guilty of driving to my neighbor's house to feed his cats (he lives one street over), because I am scared to leave my house on foot alone at night. It breaks my heart.

Anyway, I hate to be a downer. It just feels like the safety issue isn't discussed much, so I'm putting it out there. :/

Posted by: Becky on 18 Nov 08

This video is a bit comical since the speaker keeps on telling this is "the future". Walkable cities have been a fact for 4000 years, maybe just not in Atlanta.. Jokes aside, Becky has a point in the feeling of safety. Walkable is just a fancy word if crime rates are rampant and people are afraid of leaving their homes. Safety has not that much to do with urban planning than politics and economy, so it's hard to re-develop or build it. The feeling of safety also appears to increase the more you know your area, I moved to my current location 8 years ago and felt a bit unsafe at the beginning, but after years have gone by and I learned every street around , got to know people living here and got friendly with the people running shops I now feel safer here than anywhere else and the whole area feels like my home, though it is one of the most crime-dense areas in my country. Here's a picture of what it looks like and there are a lot of people walking :)

Posted by: Tomas on 18 Nov 08

This is a worthwhile little video, especially for people who have never experienced living in a walkable community. The tone is hopeful. I have lived in a number of different countries and I found that I always felt happiest about my quality of life if I was able to walk to find great food, entertainment, or companionship.

Posted by: Carolyn on 19 Nov 08

Walkable communities will return. But they will only come when a decision is made to stop designing for the car and when politics and economy support and encourage a fair, democratic and sustainable society.
But I also think that it is the younger generations which will be forced to change their mindsets about the car and also find solutions that transform community infrastructure. I have lived in Europe and when I come back to North America, I feel more isolated because of the lack of interaction with strangers.

Posted by: kate on 8 Dec 08

isn't that what suburbs are all about.

Posted by: shweta on 19 Dec 08

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