September 18, 2007

Walkable Neighborhoods: Yes, Please!

A recent study conducted in Atlanta looked at obesity in folks living in walkable versus car-dependent neighborhoods. And, not surprisingly, came to the conclusion that walkable neighborhoods are great and we should have more of them! However, the findings were pretty interesting, a bit disconcerting, and make an excellent excuse for bullet points. Bullet points are cool! We'll get to those in a minute.

The study, by Lawrence Douglas Frank, will be published eventually in the journal Social Science and Medicine. But unfortunately, figuring out how to link to the abstract without understanding what "DOI" means turned out to ridiculously complicated! So sorry 'bout that: technical difficulties (otherwise known as "cluelessness") prevented putting a handy link here.

Anyway, the study tried to remove the effects of self-selection of neighborhoods when comparing obesity rates--which seems like a smart idea. Fitness Freaks may choose walkable neighborhoods more often, so we can't be giving their neighborhoods sole credit for their trim waists and muscular calves if they came fully equipped with these features already.

So now, on with the bullet points!
  • A significant number of people are “mismatched” and do not live in their preferred type of neighborhood.
  • Those who wanted to live in a walkable neighborhood and actually did so walked the most, (33.9% walked). They drove 25.8 miles per day on average.
  • Those who preferred car dependent neighborhoods and lived in one of them walked the least. (3.3%). They also drove the most: 43 miles per day.
  • Those who didn't prefer a walkable environment walked very little. They showed no change in obesity rates regardless of where they lived.
  • Obesity rates were about half as high (11.7%) among those who preferred and lived in walkable neighborhoods compared to those who preferred car dependent 'hoods (21.6%).
"The bottom line is the built environment really does matter to health," concluded the study's author.

Well, kind of. If you're one of those 23% of people who wants to live in a walkable neighborhood and doesn't. The rest of folks either already live in a walkable neighborhood or don't give a rat's ass how many trails or sidewalks or nearby shops and restaurants there are. They'll take the freakin car. Or bus. Or they'll order in.

This study actually seemed pretty depressing, at least for a firm believer in trying to turn unwalkable neighborhoods into walkable ones. It seems as though not only do we need to build the sidewalks, we need to confiscate all the cars too! (Note: not a serious suggestion; car-lovers, do not be alarmed).

There are of course lots of barriers to choosing a walkable neighborhood to live in--expense and quality of schools and location of workplace being big ones. Some people clearly have little choice.

But is it too annoying to point out that some people do? That "where you live" is not always just a given that you have to accept and can't control?

Some folks who could afford a modest sized place in a walkable area will choose instead to live in a much bigger house further away from everything, where they have a hideous commute, no sidewalks or bike trails, and no option but to drive everywhere. Is it possible that families who have do more options might start considering shifting their priorities a bit?

Because until the demand is there, developers and urban planners probably aren't going to bust their butts trying to create cool walkable neighborhoods. We're going to have to be clamoring for them. And it it looks like so far, we're just not clamoring loud enough.

How about you folks--do you live somewhere you can get out and walk when you want to? How big a priority is that for you when you hunt for a place to live? And did you have much choice about where you ended up?


  1. Good morning! Very timely post. While I'm here in NC, I'm staying in a lovely condo that belongs to a friend of mine. It's great - except for one thing. You can't walk anywhere other than to one golf course and the pool, which we haven't used yet - now that I think of it!
    I wanted to get information from the activity center and we had to take the car, the compound is that large. The nearest stores are absolutely beyond walking distance, although you could use a bike if you have the time.
    Another thing that I've noticed over the past few years is that many golf courses require that you take a cart to play. I *like* walking the course - that's part of the reason I like being out there. I like walking and enjoying the weather and the exercise, but we're forced to use the carts so the play doesn't slow down.
    To me, that kind of defeats the purpose of being out there, doesn't it?

  2. As I've mentioned before, the military base we live on is pretty walker-friendly. The neighborhoods all have nice sidewalks and there are many little playscapes scattered throughout. I even hear there are nice walking/running trails through the woods somewhere on base.

    As for walking to actually go somewhere (i.e. the grocery store, a restaurant, etc.)... not so good, unfortunately.

    (And I like bullet points too! Even without the bullets, heh.)

  3. I live in a very walkable neighborhood. I also have nearby, a fabulous trail system that is a converted railway bed so it is very flat and in a natural setting. I really like walking on the trail. I must admit that I usually (ok, always) drive to the trail even though I could walk to it. I rarely walk through my neighborhood. If I want exercise it seems like I find chatty neighbors etc.

    I think the walkable neighborhood idea is great for moms and dads with little ones, but after that it is difficult to find a "destination" such as a park where you can play with the tots and then chat with your friends, etc. By the way, there is one of those parks a half a block from me too. Yes, I live in nirvana!

    I think people that live in areas that are walkable tend to have more money and therefore are more educated and understand the importance of purchasing and preparing healthy foods. I think they also have more opportunities and means to afford other activity related expenses such as gym membership and sports programs That part isn't factored in at all.

    I guess my thought is if a person is going to be interested in getting in some exercise, they are going to do it no matter where they live.

  4. Hi Crabby ! I live in MA and when the husband and I went looking for a house, my one criteria was a place where I could walk into town. Which means both a house that is not on a pseudo highway and a town that actually has some sort of town center to which one would want to walk. It was not easy. We were immediately priced out of most of the highly desirable places which led to desultory conversations about whether a particular assortment of stripmalls constituted a walking destination or calculating the probability of being mowed down on yet another road with no shoulder, let alone sidewalk. Our story has a happy ending, but what is one to do to lobby long and strong for development that makes sense ? Any suggestions ?

    Love your blog ! Debra

  5. Great post and so interesting! We have had great growth of trails around us that the city/state developers have aruged the same points. I am happy to say that the trail developers are "winning" and giving us more places to roam - safely.

  6. Nice post Crabby! I live in the Boston area, and love to walk - especially to get my groceries. They make walking easy around here and I live near a great bike path and walking trail that goes one for miles and miles. I'm originally from out West, where I didn't walk anywhere, and don't think I could ever go back!

  7. I love where I live - just south of Old Town Alexandria, right on the bike trail and within walking distance of the grocery store, drugstore, library, etc. Very close to a metro, too. I do pay a little more to live here, but it is well worth it.

  8. I've been lurking here for awhile, but thought I'd jump in with this question. (So...hi Crabby! Love your blog!)

    When we bought this house, I had no idea how important it would be to be only five blocks from school. But now that my boys are in Kindergarten (I have twins), we are constantly walking back and forth. And I LOVE it. Yesterday, we walked to school, and on the way back, the boys started playing with neighbor friends. And so they rode their bikes around our court until dinnertime. After dinner, we walked back to school for soccer practice, where they ran for another hour. And then we walked home again.

    Anyway, long story short, we are constantly on the move and rarely in the car. And this, my friends, is a beautiful thing!

  9. I'm curious about what constitutes a 'walkable' neighbourhood. If one wants to walk, all that is required is the physical ability to do so, and the desire. Of course, living in the country as I do, I usually have to drive, even just to pick up my mail (some 3 miles) but I do try to walk every day - sometimes just around and around the yard. Does one need a destination? Call me a Crazy Canuck Country Bumpkin! I'm sure that by 'walkable', you mean one where you aren't in fear for your life from cars whizzing past. Here the fear is more from wolves, grizzly bears and cougars - seriously!! (BTW, how's the weather down there? It's friggin' snowing here this morning!!!)

  10. Having recently moved to within a block of the university campus where I work, I only drive once a week, unless an unusual errand comes up. I love it, and the university offers everything I need on a day-to-day basis: library, bookstore, gym, parks, pharmacy, computer store, convenience stores, etc.

    But the area itself isn't so good for other things like grocery shopping, which is why I still need to drive once a week.

    The last place I lived had parks, a dry cleaner, a gym and a drugstore nearby, and my auto mechanic was less than a mile away (convenient when you've dropped off the car for service and need to get home), but any other kind of walking was largely theoretical. Oh, sure, Kroger was only 1.5 miles away, but Houston was built for cars, not humans, and you take your life into your own hands when you try to walk most places.

    Also, I've noticed a big difference in overall mindset now that I walk to work. If I'm already on foot, it's no big deal to walk another half mile or so to take care of an errand. But if I'm in my car, I'm not going to drive home, park, and then go walk someplace, even if it's only half a mile away.

    Having a walkable lifestyle was always on my wish list. My grandmother lived in a little Cape Cod town and it was such a pleasure to walk with her to the post office, library and grocery store! And now except for the grocery store, I have that lifestyle for myself! I'm a lucky gal!

  11. Rocky Mountain House is a walkable town though built on a hill so if you're walking downtown you're walking up.
    There's a hiking/biking trail around and through town that's popular.
    I can walk to the Post Office easy enough and to the seasonal fruit stand and even to at least one of the grocery stores if I so desire.
    I usually don't walk to a grocery store because that means carrying stuff back. You have to draw the line somewhere.

  12. Hi everybody! Sorry to bail yesterday, but will try to do better today. (And don't know what's up with the missing sidebar--I think it's ad related and hopefully will clear up soon).

    And for those of you who are really bored, I've got a guest post at Diet Blog today but it's kind of an odd one. Just sort of some philosophical musing about a hypothetical Exercise Pill.

    Marijke, that golf course cart requirement thing is awful! I'm like you, the whole point of golf as "exercise" is the huge amount of walking you do, not the club swinging part! And hope you are enjoying your visit in NC!

    Lisa, that's great there are lots of places to walk, but I agree, it's best when you can actually walk to some of the places you might normally drive to. I LOVE living in an extremely walkable little community where I do most of my shopping on foot.

    Holly, you really do live in nirvana it sounds like! And yeah, people who are intent on exercise tend to get really creative about it--but it's so much easier to get more when the neighborhood encourages it!

    Debra, hi!
    Really glad your story had a happy ending. And um, your suggestion that maybe we actually DO something about the problem rather than whine about it? Kind of a novel concept here at Cranky Fitness, but one that makes a lot of sense! I'm sure there must be national advocacy groups (must consult the Google) but I know a LOT tends to happen at the local level. When developers want approval, or Planners start Planning, I think there are opportunities for community input. A great idea to actually stop grousing and show up to a meeting!)

    Amy, hooray for the trail developers! Wouldn't it be great if this was just a "no brainer" for any community?

    Hi Bri!
    Boston is a great town for walking around (except for the aggressive drivers!). It definitely seems harder to find old-fashioned walkable neighborhoods with stores close by outside of the Northeast--and when you find one, often they tend to be pricey!

    Missicat, you're almost a neighbor, at least temporarily while I'm still in D.C.! (Though we're staying in the District). Old town Alexandria is a great example of a walkable neighborhood, and I love anyplace that has metro access as it's great to leave the car at home.

    Llama mama, welcome and thanks so much for stopping in down here in the comments! That's so cool that you can walk your kids to school! It's way healthier for both kids and parents. In our neighborhood, the elementary school seems to make a concerted effort to encourage this, and there's something so cheerful about seeing tons of families walking together to school in the morning.

  13. Cranky - D.C. is a great place to walk around, and I always take the metro there. Tons of stuff to see and do. I believe there is an Ansel Adams exhibit at the Corcoran now, and Annie Lebowitz will be there next month. Plus there is the Smithsonian, the zoo, the monuments, etc., etc.

  14. We have an incredible park system with trails that weave through our neighbourhood, allowing us to wander for several hours without ever needing to cross more than about 5 intersections throughout our excursion. Most pathways bridge over, or tunnel under the major streets. This connected series of parks either passes through, around or very closely to several strip malls, a larger shopping mall, a library, numerous playgrounds and schools, a community sports center, two small lakes and a small but lovely protected marshland. It makes for a very maneuverable area for the growing number of seniors who reside here, and a reasonably safe surroundings for kids to explore by bike. We're by no means considered upper scale. It was just a very well-planned area, taking into full account how valuable green space is.

    The city is actually quite poorly set up for driving though. Many streets are semi-circular and turn you around in unexpected directions by the time you exit them, and city planners have a very annoying habit of changing the names of the streets where it meets most major intersections. It's much more common than not, to be stopped at a light and notice that the street to the east has a different name than where it continues to the west. We have far too many street names for the actual number of roads. Google Maps probably gets many hits in our city.

  15. I love walking places, which is rather odd in Kansas City because it simply isn't built for that lifestyle. People here all live in suburbs and drive everywhere... that being said we found a great house in this little neighborhood where it taks 3 minutes to walk to the store, 5 minutes to walk to Target, 5 minutes to walk to the movie store and a number of restaurants. I never ever drive to these places now because it feels wasteful and I can always use the exercise. My friends find this odd and don't really understand it, but I can't imagine moving now because I love that found this!

  16. Hi Bag Lady,
    That's one of the interesting trade-offs I think of country living--lots of fresh air and open country and all that good stuff, but sometimes, in some rural areas, it's hard to find safe places to walk! Still seems like a really healthy environment to live in, and especially when you throw in all the physical chores.

    BunnyGirl, it's great that you've found such a walkable location--and I think I remember from your blog that it wasn't by accident, that it was a factor you really weighed. And I love the small-town walk-to-everything sort of communities like your Grandmother's on Cape Cod. (We're big P-town fans, though it gets a bit crazy during the height of the season).

    Sounds like you live in a great place--all that awesome scenery, plus stuff you can walk to! Somehow in our Canadian wanderings we've missed that area and will have to remedy that next Van trip!

    Missicat--I agree, there is so much cool stuff to do here! We've been trying to really take advantage of it and have been walking our asses off. Thanks for the suggestions, those are on our list as well as the Hopper exhibit which I think either just opened up or will soon. We're already scheming to figure out how to get back here again!

    Hilary--why is it that walking paradises have to be made additionally confusing for drivers? I can understand curvy streets and dead ends and such, but what's with the changing street names? I hate that. And I'm not surprised your city is such a great walking city--overall, it seems Canadians are much more sensible about these things. At least in my experience.

    Amanda, good for you! And isn't it funny that people think you're odd for wanting to walk? Like it's some kind of bizarre personality quirk? (I once got pulled over at some residentially part of DisneyWorld and escorted back to my hotel in a Security Van because I was jogging through the neighborhood. I hadn't violated any No Trespassing signs or anything, but apparently several people had called in to report me. I guess jogging wasn't allowed. Even though there was nowhere else nearby to exercise!)

  17. 43 miles a day! Geez, no wonder the planet's going to hell in a hand basket.

    I live where there are no sidewalks, so I just walk and run in the street. Drivers are used to that here. Sometimes they try to hit me, but they are mostly supportive. I try to steer clear of the really narrow hedge-rimmed lanes.

  18. I got rather irritated the other day when someone told me I was "really lucky" that I was able to bike to work. I'm able to commute by bicycle because when I decided where to live, bikability was a major factor. (Yes, that is too a word. In my dictionary if nowhere else ;)
    My last place was 1/2 mile from my work, and everyone thought me an exercise freak for walking to work. My supervisor, who also lived 1/2 mile from work, drove every day. She went on to have gastric bypass surgery because she "couldn't find a way to lose weight."
    Did you read the article about how the British would "rather die" than lose weight? Don't think it's limited to Brits, somehow:

  19. I live in a neighborhood that has a lot of walkable areas. When more things come in too we will be able to walk to stores and things eventually too. I love it. I guess I am one of those people that are walkers living in a walkable neighborhood.
    I think that I would love to live in a city like NY one day and be able to walk absolutely everywhere. Here Arizona is really built for driving and it is really hard to get around it completely.

  20. Mary, that just goes to show how clueless people can be about exercise. I think one of the major differences between the States and France (where a fraction of the number of people do organized exercise) is that in France, walking around, walking up stairs (instead of the elevator), and such are just standard. Here people think you're a nut if you walk a half mile.

    I live a walkable distance from Cambridge (near Boston). I didn't realize until I'd lived in my condo for a year that I had a bike path right near my house, but now that I've realized it, I walk to the train in the morning, then after the train, I walk another 10 minutes across the park to work. It gives me so much energy. When I have to take the bus (when it gets cold and/or rainy), it's just not the same. There are a LOT of people who walk to the train in the morning. And on of my friends just told me that he recently moved and has been biking 2 hours each way to get to work in the morning (because he doesn't have a car). Now, that'd be a bit much for me, but more power to him! And he's lost 35 lbs!

  21. Crabby - if any of your loyal readers want an explanation for my name, they could check out Leah's blog today - the Goat's Lunch Pail. I'm more than just an 'old bag'!

  22. Since I'm currently rotting in the suburbs (so many trees! so...few...bars) my motives for getting to the walkable neighborhoods of Chicago are not entirely pure, but I dayum sure want to get to them. The wide open spaces and comparative tranquility of the 'burbs can be nice, but not when you get so entrenched in using your car that a half-mile walk seems excessive. I was as fit as I'll ever be living in Tokyo, and I want to go back to that lifestyle.

  23. Hi all,

    Well I live in Fort Lee, NJ which holds up the west end of the George Washington Bridge. So out my window I see Manhattan, where I work. I take mass transit to work, but that does require some walking and going up and down stairs.

    Now that "the season" has started back up, I have started walking from job to job in the city when I can, and fortunately most of the walks take me through Central Park!!! I SO love that.

    Fort Lee is a wonderful little village with lots of shops, and my apartment building is just a block from Main Street. The sad part is I hardly ever have time to go down there and shop, and a lot of the shops are for Asian commodities. We have a huge Asian population. I also find myself driving farther afield because the grocery store is just a little too far to be carrying or carting groceries back.

    The big issue around here is TIME. I realize NYers are so testy and in a rush because they have to spend so much time getting from place to place (it takes me 1:15 to get to work. One Way.) that the non-commuting time they do have left is ultra-precious to them. It does tend to make one cranky and tired and not inclined to grocery-shop on foot.

    I wish I lived next to Central Park, though, that would be awesome.

  24. How walkable the neighborhood was a huge factor in choosing my current apartment. And I definitely take advantage of it. My car often sits in the garage for weeks unused.

    The sad thing is I don't see that many other people living near me walking places. I grew up in a part of Chicago where walking was normal, but here in Los Angeles, people seem amazed that I've walked 1/2 mile each way to the grocery store.

    Oh, and not to blather on, but I think another big factor is how safe a neighborhood is. Previous to moving in July, I lived somewhere were things were technically close for walking, but I drove some of the time, because it was also a place where people were getting shot in front of my house. Now I live some where safe, and as it turns out walking is much more pleasant if you are worried about stray bullets.

  25. Choice depended on price. I do live in a walkable neighborhood but do not work there. My commute is short (5 miles), but it is not a safe, bike-rideable commute, especially in the dark and winter and snow. I used to live 20 miles north, in the burbs, and the commute was horrible, but it was a choice that was made at the time because of schools. Once school was no longer an issue with the kids, it was move back to the city time. However, if I knew then what I know now, I would move to another part of town, less than 5 miles from where I am now, that wouldn't necessarily be a walkable neighborhood but would be far more convenient and result in driving less, even though I had to drive everywhere. I do all or most of my shopping in that area, it is close to bike trails where I have to drive to now, and close to the highway, which I take to work. Where I am now, even while it is a walkable neighborhood, it is land-locked, meaning it takes so long to get to the highway, which is only 2 miles away because of the amount of traffic, that that makes up the majority of my commute time. I spend an average of 7-8 minutes getting to and on the highway and only another 4 getting to work. In the other neighborhood, it would take as much time for the whole commute, but it would all be highway. Problem? Too expensive. Make sense?

  26. Hi Crabby,

    I am one of the lucky ones. I live in the eastern end of New York City, in the borough of Queens. All day to day stuff is walkable (anywhere from a block to a mile away) and I have a 600 acre park one block from my house with trails and kettle ponds galore.

    If it wasn't for all that available walking space, I'd probably weight 600 pounds.


  27. i live in canada's largest city (aka: the centre of the universe), so everything is walkable. I also happen to live & work in the downtown core, which forces me to walk to and from work everyday, about 3km. Everything I need is within 10 minutes by foot.

    it baffles me when i go visit one of my brothers just 10 minutes outside of the city's eastern limits to find we have to take a 5 minute car ride to get to the nearest corner store and there are no sidewalks on his street!

    I know he chose the neighbourhood based on lower income taxes and his ability to purchase a larger house for the same price as a smaller house in TO, but I personally would want my amenities (groceries, gyms, schools, libraries)within walking distance because teaching the importance of physical activity to my family is also a priority.

  28. Norabarnacle, I agree that 43 mile thing seemed huge to me, especially as an Average! And I hope those drivers are really careful of pedestrians.

    It is interesting how many people don't even consider taking walking/biking options into account when they pick somewhere to live and consider it just a "lucky" bonus. (For those who DO have options, of which I'm convinced there are quite a few).

    I think I remember reading an article somewhere praising Chandler for it's awesome bike trails. (Sunset maybe?) Anyway, urban living does have it's charms and I totally love it. (Though my fantasy would be to combine a city place with a seaside getaway--Lotto gods willing).

    Hi Leth,
    Cambridge is cool! And I'm with you, 2 hrs is a bit much, but there's nothing better than combining commute time with exercise.

    Bag Lady--so that's why the name! I was wondering. I won't spoil it for readers who want to pop over to leah's.

    I'm with you, half the fun of urban living is the way you can combine Sinful Indulgence with Virtuous Exercise. Whether it's purveyors of cupcakes or Mai Thais, you feel a bit less guilty if you visit them by walking on your own two feet.

    Melissa, I don't think I've ever visited Fort Lee (even though we did live in NJ and NYC for awhile. Sounds nice! But I agree, a Central Park location would be truly awesome. It's a beautiful park.

    Jessie Mae,
    Wow, a walker in L.A.! Steve Martin did a really funny take on that in some movie or another. You are a rare species indeed. But I think that's really cool that you found a place close enough to things to make that workable! (And there at Cranky Fitness, there is no such thing as blathering. Especially since Crabby herself can never manage the "succinct" thing.

    Makes total sense to me! I think everyone has a whole bunch of factors to trade off regarding price/schools/etc. I'm just amazed at all the people who don't even WANT to live in walkable neighborhoods--according to that study, there's a whole bunch of 'em!

    Terrie, good for you for taking advantage of all that! Sounds like you're in a great neighborhood for walking.

    Marie, it sounds like we think exactly alike on this one. And I know I'm ridiculously biased in favor of Canadian attitudes and lifestyles, but it really seems like you folks are on average more active, more healthy, and less materialistic than most Americans. (And I promise I'm not just sucking up because so many of the Cranky Fitness Commenters happen to be Canadians!)

  29. So just a warning, folks, that Comment Reply may be a bit hit or miss on this post this afternoon/evening... but I Always Read Them!

  30. As with Vickie, choice depended on price. We're in a pretty typical suburb. Kind of near stuff but not near enough to walk (I'm lugging three little ones don't forget)
    But when we lived a university housing complex, I would pack up my kids and walk EVERYWHERE. We were so much closer to everything- and the kids were smaller, I could just throw them in the stroller. I LOVED it.
    I miss that in a lot of ways, but enjoy the perks of our new home a little too much to want to go back to apartment living. BUT if I were single or kidless, I'd rely a lot heavier on walkability when choosing somewhere to live.

  31. I grew up in Detroit, where everything there encouraged a need for a car. I hated that about Detroit. Everything is so spread out, and the mass transit system is a joke, that you couldn't fully live in Detroit w/o a car.

    So when I moved to Knoxville TN, the mass transit was a little better, downtown was a little smaller, and this city is a little more walkable.

    I really would love living in a city with a subway system like Chicago, NYC, or even Atlanta. You could live without a car in those cities, and I strive to make that happen for me in the future.

    Nice Topic!

  32. Can't help it--two more then I'm really going.

    Katieo, I SO get why kids needs have to be a top priority in living decisions. It would just be great wouldn't it, if people didn't have to make so many tough choices and there were more walkable communities designed to accommodate families!

    Hi KdoubleA! From what you said, I'm thinking I'd much prefer Knoxville to Detroit too! I've been lucky to live a lot of places with good mass transit, and it really is a major plus. Thanks for visiting!

  33. Our neighborhood's not bad for walking, and the Township has added walking trails as well. It's pretty easy to get to the next neighborhood over, for instance.

    I'd prefer kinder drivers, myself, so I can bike. We have some narrow bridges and overly busy roads that many of us won't bike on. Makes it that much harder, which sucks. I prefer biking to walking, any day. Yes, even in the rain.

  34. Yay! Planning! (I'm getting my MA in Urban Affairs and Public Policy and when I pulled this up tonight, I did a double take because I thought I pulled up Cranky Fitness! I did!)

    What's even wonkier is the people who vote to NOT put in sidewalks. They don't want "those" people around, whatever "those" people are. NIMBY!

    Anyhow, my neighborhood isn't walkable. There aren't even sidewalks. There are bike lanes, though so that's good at least. But the college town I live in, if I drive about two miles away, is very walkable. Alas, it is also expensive. So in my car I go.

    When I graduate and Settle Down, I really really want to live somewhere I can walk to work. Then again, I'll be moving in with the boyfriend, so we've got some stuff to work out with where we're going to live, I guess.

  35. Well rapper Jennifer here... kind of late but...

    I do live in a walkable area and I did indeed plan it that way. We live in a place with two play areas and lots of sidewalks on the premises and right across the street from a community center; city park; and community garden. The downtown area is within a three minute drive (small old school downtown) and it's great for walking and we live three minutes from a grocery store and farmers market.

    All good. Cedar and I go to the city park almost every day and usually on a long walk too. (or skate / walk).

    But when we get another house I'm thinking it will be harder to find a walkable area. There are a lot of stupid homes close together here without big yards. If you want land you have to move to the country.

    But for right now it's all good.

  36. Hi Crabby,

    Another excellent post on an important topic. I find the subject of sustainable growth quite interesting. Sustainability is a very popular subject on the west coast. Vancouver BC, San Franscisco, Seattle and Portland are all making efforts to redevelop into mixed use areas where people live and work, and don't need to commute. This is also the goal of the livable cities movement. Here are a couple of links that are worth checking out,

    I am fortunate because my job allows me to work from home. I used to drive about 300 miles/week, now I drive less than 500/month. I live 1.5 miles from the vet, the grocery store and the post office, so I can do a lot of errands on foot, if I have time. That can be a big if. Since my job pays me to be home, they expect me to be available 7x24, so sometimes it is hard for me to leave. If I have an errand to run, it must be quick, so I end up using the car. Fortunately, I have a treadmill right next to my desk, so I can still get my run in while watching the monitor for e-mails and listening for the phone.

    I would not describe my neighborhood as walker friendly, but it also isn't bad. There are some sidewalks, but there are also many places that don't have them. We are about 7 blocks from an elementary school. When the school first opened, they insisted that the kids from our neighborhood ride a bus. I thought that was crazy, but they got really upset if any of their students walked. The expense finally became to great, and they adopted a more realistic policy.

  37. Ooo, everybody has already written so much! I don't have the time to read it all. Yet. Because I know it'll be interesting. That's the excuse for not commenting on others and repeating the intelligent things that have already been said (or come up with unheard of stupidities...)

    I love Europe! Before finding this blog, I didn't realise how the US can be (is?) Not being able to walk?! I would feel imprisoned. Gaah! Just thinking of it makes me creepy! I don't even have a car, and i am so glad that I can walk, bike and take the train/bus/underground. Thank you for reminding me how good my life is! (and how it could be...)

  38. Hi Sarah, Susan, Jennifer, Diva & Pelikan, and sorry to lump you all together! (Time management problems). But it's really interesting to read what everybody else's neighborhoods and priorities are like. I'm not seeing anyone who would RATHER drive everywhere, which is great. And thanks for the links Database Diva, I love that there are organizations like this!

  39. Hey Crabby! We just moved to a small town and I LOVE being able to walk to restaurants or to the little store to pick up a few things. The only problem is that we don't live in the nicest area so I have to take a male companion or my dog (a great dane) with me. Companion is fun because I have someone to talk to, dog sucks because he only weights 15 lbs less than me and HE does the walking. We are looking to move soon and I would much prefer to live in a walkable are. With the dog we HAVE to have enough room for him to run and play so luckily that means no urban living for us (darn...I've never been much of a big city person!)Since moving to a walkable area I definitly find myself walking more than I did before we I would have to drive to a park to walk. And I don't know about anyone else but the weather in Georgia right now is GREAT for walking!


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