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Buildings and Cities

Walkable Cities

The San Telmo barrio in Buenos Aires was always a walkable and intimate neighborhood that gathered people into cafés and shops on its cobbled streets. Today, its old churches, antique shops, alleys, and artists attract tourists from around the world. It is a street experience opposite of that on Avenue 9 de Julio three blocks away—a noisy gouge through Buenos Aires through which traffic pours and where big retail towers indifferently over the human beings.

Walkable cities prioritize two feet over four wheels through careful planning and design. They minimize the need to use a car and make the choice to forego driving appealing, which can reduce greenhouse gases emissions. According to the Urban Land Institute, in more compact developments ripe for walking, people drive 20 to 40 percent less.

Walkable trips are not simply those with a manageable distance from point A to point B, perhaps a ten- to fifteen-minute journey on foot. They have walk appeal, thanks to a density of fellow walkers, a mix of land and real estate uses, and key design elements that create compelling environments for people on foot. Infrastructure for walkability can include:

  • Density of homes, workplaces, and other spaces.
  • Wide, well-lit, tree-lined sidewalks and walkways.
  • Safe and direct pedestrian crossings.
  • Connectivity with mass transit.

Today, too many urban spaces remain no- or low-walking ones, and demand for walkable places far outstrips supply. That is because walkable cities are easier and more attractive to live in, making for happier, healthier citizens. Health, prosperity, and sustainability go hand in hand.

Technical summaries for each solution will be available May 1, 2017.

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