What is Walkability? (And Why it Matters for Health, Resilience, Happiness)


Walkable communities are healthier and more economical, but they also offer so much more—they are more diverse, resilient, sustainable, friendlier, and greener. These in-demand neighborhoods draw people from all income brackets and research shows that people who live in these types of neighborhoods and communities are healthier and happier.

What is Walkability?

Walkability is physical wellbeing.

The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood. Walkability is associated with higher levels of arts organizations, creativity, and civic engagement. Communities with good public transit and walkable access to amenities promote added friendship and happiness.

Walkability is transportation choice.

Throughout human history, before cars were widely available, incentivized, and relied on, walking was the main mode of transportation. Streets were designed for the safety and comfort of pedestrians and connected to a community’s commercial center for access to services and goods. Walking needs to again become a natural, accessible, and primary mode choice.

Walkability is economic health.

Higher walkability scores are linked to stronger neighborhood economic wellbeing. A one-point increase out of 100 in Walk Score [based on number of destinations within a short distance] is associated with between a $700 and $3,000 increase in home values, according to CEOs for Cities.

Walkability is good land use.

A walkable neighborhood should be focused on people and places, requiring the right mix of land uses, diverse and affordable housing, access to parks and schools, and human-scaled street design.

Acknowledgments: Dan Burden and Danielle Schaeffner

Blue Zones Built Environment Team

Related Articles