Thoughts on Walkability

People prefer living where their home naturally extends into a community full of neighbors to visit with, public spaces (like pools and parks for kids to play together), retail areas to window shop, restaurants, and shops to buy groceries. Having places to explore and discover new nooks and crannies extends a sense of home. This is what makes Walk Score such a hot topic when comparing locations.

Living in a walk-able location allows residents to walk for exercise and purpose. For instance, my partner and I enjoy walking to restaurants, bars and shops in our east central neighborhood. The parks and pools offer a nice break and a shady spot for relaxation. Additionally, we combine light exercise with a breath of fresh air by walking along the Lady Bird Lake trail to grab dinner or drinks downtown. And if we wander too far or get tired, we know we can always hop on a bus home. When it comes to more challenging trips like grocery shopping at the HEB over a mile away we take our bikes or a Car2Go.  These simple ventures have become part of our daily life. These excursions give us time to walk and talk, run into neighbors, meet new people in our community and keep tabs on the neighborhood. Would you believe we have all of this with a Walk Score of only 54!?

Such daily walkabouts are less common because we stopped building these kinds of neighborhoods in the 1960s and 70s in the Austin area.

Thus it costs a lot more to live in these older, more centrally located neighborhoods like Clarksville, South Congress and downtown.  On top of that, many homebuyers, especially families, want larger houses. But building larger houses is hard given development regulations in Austin, plus they cost more to build in the Central city.

The good news:

Austin is beginning to revisit restrictive ordinances especially in areas like Lamar and Burnet where more housing could be built without too much disruption to neighborhoods that work. This will allow more public spaces and places to develop along these areas. Corridors and connections to these places could also be improved, such that walking or cycling a few blocks is easier and safer than it is today, thereby increasing your sense of home.

Check your Walkscore and begin to discover what’s around your home today!

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