Five Reasons Demand for Walkability is Growing Across America
To continue our discussion of walkability, today we’re taking a look at the some of the leading reasons behind the growing demand for walkable community design across the country. Walkability is not a new value: in fact, it’s an old one. But, with the rise of the automobile in the 1920s came the decline of walkability in America, and suburban sprawl became the defining feature of 20th-century development. Only recently has the tide started to turn back toward urban development patterns that focus on the creation of walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods.
The good news: this shift in living preferences and development patterns doesn’t seem to be a passing trend. Increasingly, Americans from big cities to small towns alike are demanding communities designed for walking, where daily errands can be accomplished without the use of cars and foot travel is appealing and safe. In a 2013 survey by the National Association of Realtors, 60% of Americans reported a preference for a neighborhood with a “mix of houses, stores and businesses that are easy to walk to,” while only 35% said they prefered a “neighborhood with houses only that requires driving to stores and businesses.” Among young people, the trend is even more pronounced, with 77% of millennials expressing a desire for a walkable lifestyle.
As the data shows, highly walkable urbanism is the model for the future development of many — and possibly most — of the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. The reasons for this trend are many and various, but for now let’s take a look at just five: