Walking into the future – reimagining our neighborhoods
October 12, 2015
What if there were a way to reduce healthcare costs, urban sprawl, pollution, and obesity while increasing property values, improving bicycle and pedestrian safety, defining and strengthening neighborhood identity and pride, enhancing curb appeal, integrating green spaces into the urban landscape, reducing social isolation, encouraging economic diversification, improving the prospects of small business owners and centralizing services for urban residents? That’s a heck of a lot to achieve, isn’t it?
If it all seems like an impossible pipe dream requiring decades of in-depth study, intensive mobilization of resources, slick PR campaigns to secure buy-in, and a clean slate new beginning by way of wrecking ball and bulldozer, we humbly submit a simple solution: take an accounting of our neighborhoods’ existing assets and capitalize on them to achieve a “walkable cities” approach. Yup we said it: by reimagining our existing neighborhoods and the way they interconnect with an emphasis on human, rather than vehicular mobility, we can begin to address – in one fell swoop – the dozen or so quality of life and economic factors introduced above. Simple, right? Just put one foot in front of the other.
Design and planning firms like EnSite have spent decades implementing a walkable cities approach, often on a small-scale basis. Along the way, they’ve produced case studies to bolster the profile of the concept in the minds of municipalities and residents in anticipation of the day it becomes not only an acceptable alternative to the way “things have always been done,” but widely accepted as the way to anticipate our challenges and provide a sustainable model for future urban lifestyles. Consider this headline from the Sunday October, 11 News-Press: OUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON WALKABLE CITIES.
We couldn’t agree more.
Both quality of life and small businesses benefit when we capitalize on existing assets to increase walkability and connectivity in a neighborhood.