Key to Walkability?

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    Gregory Leichty
    Roland Beinert

    Good article. It’s certainly one of the main keys, although I’m not sure it’s THE key. I think a number of factors need to be combined. The role of density and diversity is downplayed in the article, but I don’t think the number of intersections cannot bring about walkability without those factors. You can have a residential area with lots of interconnectivity, but it does little good unless there’s a destination worth walking to within a reasonable distance (a store, a park, etc.). Quality and safety of the walking environment is important, too.
    Jane Jacobs has a great discussion of all those factors and how they relate to one another in Death and Life of Great American Cities.

    Trace One

    this makes me think of a recent discussion I heard on NPR – a biologist was opining that our major effect on wildlife is that we are creating islands…Islands for wildlife..And following previous environmental logic, all wildlife in the future will be smaller..Ever been to an island with tiny deer – same species, just tiny, because they were on an island..

    Andrew Spiering

    Have you heard of Type in your address and get your walk score…it’s fun.

    Adam Trujillo

    So for the article to say that walkability is a one variable formula can be pretty misleading. Because the actually study’s results say “Walking is most strongly related to measures of land use diversity, intersection density, and the number of destinations within walking distance.” Roland pretty much hits the nail on this issue. I don’t think that comparing Venice, LA and Irvine really proves that more intersections leads to more walking. If you’ve ever been to Venice you’d notice that the restaurants, shops, offices and houses are all zoned together with high density. The high density, number of destinations and the close proximity to each other is the really seems to be the formula to walkability. If you were to break Irivne’s sprawling housing developments into smaller intersections I don’t believe you would have more people walking because they wouldn’t have anywhere to walk to other than their neighbor’s houses.

    Bob Luther

    it also helps to have a city built before the automobile… Venice was designed to be moved through by foot and by boat are there even any cars in Venice? I don’t really remember seeing any cars at all… so is that really a good city to use as the baseline? maybe Amsterdam or London would be a better choice to study (old cities that now have areas with walking and car traffic) just a thought

    Jason T. Radice

    You simply cannot make the comparisons the authors have made. LA is not Venice. European urban culture is vastly different than US pedestrian tendencies. Besides, The Italian car culture is firmly rooted in Modena, where Detroit and LA are home to it here. I love when the “smart growth crowd” asserts simplistic conclusions such as this. There are SO many more factors. One thing I did not see mentioned was that where there tend to be more intersections, traffic is slowed as a result. So you are not walking next to a highway, its a comfort thing. I would like to see more comparisons from all domestic and regional sources, you simply cannot compare Italy (or Europe) to the US; they are completely different cultures.


    I generally agree.

    As a study this is interesting, but probably impractical for a number of reasons. Is this another criterion for quantifying good neighborhood design? I get it, but I think the true key to walkability is context sensitive/site-responsive design. Different patterns of walkability or drivability are going to occur in different settings–from rural to urban, and there is no single factor for formulating an appropriate solution.

    Let’s also not forget that it costs money to buld streets.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Is it cause and affect, or affect and cause?

    The notion that people will walk to accessible destinations is pretty elementary. What is missing is that proximity is a two way street. Some people prefer to be in the thick of things and some prefer some separation. Still others prefer a great deal of separation.

    This goes back to that Rybczynski (sp?) article. Planners tend to decide what the ideal lifestyle is for the masses and then make everyone conform to it.

    Roland Beinert

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that dense urban development should go every where. I honestly think if some critics looked at the concepts of the new urbanist transect and form based codes they would realize they that they are mischaracterizing smart growth and new urbanism. I’d say it allows for a greater variety of lifestyles than our current zoning, which often intentionally does not allow people to walk to the store. Allowing people to walk is not the same thing as forcing everyone to walk.

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