On 21 January by Goodyear Heights in , , , ,    No comments
The more walkable your neighborhood, the more valuable your home, studies say. To boost your neighborhood’s walkability — which translates into how easily you can walk to stores, schools, restaurants, places of employment and parks — you can either get more close-by amenities, or make it easier to walk to what already exists.

For those who have lived in Goodyear Heights for many years, it’s clear that a lot of the neighborhood conveniences do not exist like they used to—grocery stores being a prime example. But making the most of what we have and encouraging future development on a small, neighborhood scale can go a long way towards enhancing walkability.

How much is that walkability worth?
Having shops and gathering spots like schools and restaurants located within a quarter-mile to one-mile from the homes in your neighborhood can add from $4,000 to $34,000 to home values, according to “Walking the Walk,” a study from CEOs for Cities, a nonprofit that works to improve cities. The rate of increase usually depended on the size of the city, with higher values in larger cities, and more moderate values in smaller cities.

What are walkable communities?
Dan Burden, founder of Walkable Communities, defines them with his a 12-step checklist, which includes:

•    Great public places for people to to get together and socialize
•    Speed-controlled key streets
•    Pedestrian-centric design
•    A town or neighborhood center with a wide variety of shops and businesses

How do I make my neighborhood more walkable?
To have great walkability, you start with having something worth walking to, such as restaurants, small shops or parks, and a critical mass of people living around those amenities. To make a difference, get your neighbors together and go talk to local officials. Your group can push the planning and zoning board for changes that make your town more walkable, like adjusting zoning to allow limited commercial development where it can do the most good.

Contact groups like the Better Block Foundation, who has organized planning and demonstration projects in North Hill, Middlebury and Kenmore. They are great when it comes to showing residents how they can improve neighborhood commercial areas and make them more pedestrian-friendly. On Twitter, you can connect at @akronbb.

Residents will want to mingle somewhere, too. See how you can support and expand public spaces where you can mix and socialize (think library, park, coffee shop) to increase your neighborhood’s walkability. Goodyear Heights has these amenities available—we just have to make the most of them.

To heighten and improve walkability, it’s critical to make the streets kinder to walkers and keep cars under control. Put these items on your city planning list:

•More and wider sidewalks; bike lanes where practical.
•Lower speed limits; traffic-calming strategies at intersections.

If you’re serious about increasing walkability, gather neighbors and town officials for a walking audit, where the group walks along a particular route and stops periodically to discuss how to improve the walking experience with landscaping, safety improvements, or accessibility improvements. Other things you can do:

•Trim shrubbery that may be blocking the sidewalk in front of your house.
•Pick up trash and litter as you walk along. If you see an eyesore, note it and call the Akron 311 line
•Replace your porch and outdoor lights with LED bulbs and light things up at night. They cost little to use, and it will boost your security and that of the neighborhood.
•Be polite to other drivers and pedestrians when you drive.

And maybe the best walkability tip of all? Just get out and walk.