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7 Signs of a Walkable Neighborhood

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7 Signs of a Walkable Neighborhood
3 min. read

Image: D Guest Smith / Shutterstock.com

These days, many of us have come to rely on a car to get around, using four wheels to do anything from picking up a pint of milk to taking the kids to school. But, who wants to be stuck behind the wheel all day, every day? If you’re able to walk to the shops or to school, you no longer have to worry about finding somewhere to park, the price of gas, and the environmental damage each trip can cause. 

If you would like to find a home in a more pedestrian-friendly area, you can seek out the following seven signs online via street view or online forums, but be sure that the data is up to date. If possible, it’s best to visit in person, preferably several times, at different times of the day to get a real feel for a particular neighborhood.

Pedestrian-Friendly Streets

A walkable neighborhood should have streets that have been designed with pedestrians in mind. Look for wide sidewalks that can accommodate several people at once. Street furniture, such as benches, trash cans, and even drinking fountains are always a good sign that the neighborhood is set up to support walkers. There should also be a good amount of shade, and it’s especially important to look for tree-lined streets and parks in warmer climates.

Public Transit Options Nearby

Living in a walkable neighborhood doesn’t mean that you have to walk to work. Instead, you might be able to walk to various public transit stations, which you can use to go the extra mile to work and back. Look out for bus stops, metro stations, or cycle lanes.

Multi-Purpose Roads

Most walkable neighborhoods are designed with more than simply cars in mind. Keep an eye open for cycle lanes, streetcar or metro tracks, and bus lanes. There should also be a wealth of street crossings that favor the pedestrian. Crossings with buttons that pedestrians can push are great, ensuring people can safely cross the road at regular intervals.

Plenty of Lighting

You want to feel safe when you’re walking around your neighborhood, so good street lighting is imperative. It’s important that you can see, and be seen wherever you’re walking, keeping you safe from passing vehicles, obstacles, and criminals.

Low-Speed Limits

When you’re walking through the neighborhood, speeding vehicles are the last thing you’ll want to encounter. The most walkable neighborhoods generally set low-speed limits on their roads, and implement anti-speed measures, such as speed bumps. There may also be areas that are entirely pedestrianized.

Clean and Maintained

Walkable neighborhoods should be kept clean and well maintained, to ensure people are able to safely stick to the sidewalk. Any maintenance issues, such as loose paving slabs or broken street lamps should be fixed quickly and efficiently. Also, check out the buildings in the area; well-maintained properties that are in use indicate a thriving area, whereas abandoned buildings and overgrown lots can attract crime, and subsequently make the neighborhood less safe for walking.

Plenty of Entertainment Options Around

Even neighborhoods with the cleanest, most pedestrian-friendly streets might not actually be very walkable if there’s nowhere to walk to. Be on the lookout for things like cafes, restaurants, shops, schools, and workplaces that you’d be able to walk to. The most walkable neighborhoods tend to have a center of sorts, perhaps an old town or main street, where you can find a plethora of small, local businesses.

It can feel like walkable neighborhoods are becoming harder to find, with sprawling suburbs seemingly designed only with drivers in mind. However, if you know what to look for, you can find friendly, walkable neighborhoods anywhere in the country.  

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