According to Walk Score, Lane Cove is the 88th most walkable suburb in Sydney. Walkability is becoming a buzz word and apparently, new homeowners are looking for a suburb that has a high walkability score. A recently released report by Arup a global engineering firm called Cities Alive – Towards A Walking World outlined 50 (yes 50) reasons why cities must improve walkability.
Here are just 6 reasons that improving walkability and encouraging walking would benefit Lane Cove.
“Instead of maintaining cars, residents can spend money in other ways, such as restaurants and entertainment, keeping money circulating in the local economy
Investing in public space is a strong catalyst for local, social and economic vitality. It fosters the economic success of local shops and determines the increase of local independent businesses.
According to the American Automobile Association, people spend on average $8,485 each year on their cars, but only 16% stays within the local economy – for licences, taxes, registrations, repairs and maintenance. A reduction of 15,000 vehicles in a city would translate into a $127 million increase of local budget.57 For instance, the economist Joe Cortright estimated that residents in Portland saved more than $1bn by driving 20% less than the rest of the country, a “green dividend” that results in more disposable income to ow into local businesses.58
Clustering and proximity are critical to the success of commercial districts. While car dependency determined the rise of suburban malls, with associated issues such as ‘food deserts’, a dense and walkable urban network may facilitate the spread of small local shops and street markets, able to increase variety of goods and services, independent retailing, local employment and start-up opportunities.
Estimates project that dozens to hundreds of US shopping centres will close in the next 20 years. On the other hand, street markets are particularly beneficial to communities since they attract additional footfall activity, encouraging 60% of visitors to buy at other neighbouring shops.”
Page 56 Cities Alive: Towards A Walking World
In 1961, Jane Jacobs wrote that in order for a street to be safe, “there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street.” These eyes on the street lead to a reduction in crime. This could also assist Lane Cove by reducing petty crime and vandalism (such as the egg throwing incidents we have at the moment).
One of the fun ways to make a vibrant neighbourhood is Flamingo Friday. In the US, neighbours put a plastic flamingo in their yard, an esky, and some portable chairs and encourage neighbours to come over for a drink and nibbles. If a street is more walkable, people will want to spend time in their own street and this will bring vibrancy back to neighbourhoods. If you want to try Flamingo Friday, you can find our more here. ITC also finds that if you are about and about you discover some of Lane Cove Hidden Gems – like the House of Orchids near Blackman Park.
Strengthens Community Identity
As more and more people hit the streets, it builds a sense of community. In Ireland, one study found that people in walkable neighborhoods had 80% more “social capital” than those living in car-dependant areas.
It helps people live longer
Being inactive is one of the leading causes of mortality around the world; physical activity dropped 32% in the last four decades in the U.S., and 45% in less than two decades in China. For people over 60, walking just 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of dying by 22%. Another thing that helps people live longer is joining a book club or holding a street party.
It inspires a sense of civic pride and responsibility
It might only be ITC, but I do get a buzz when I am out walking and someone smiles at me or says hi. Apparently, walkability brings people together with other community members, which increases a sense of responsibility.
If you would like to read the entire Walkability report, you can download here. What do you and your neighbours do to encourage walking around your street? One of the suggestions is a car free Sunday – do you think that would catch on in Lane Cove?
Do you have a local issue you would like help with? ITC is here to help just email us at [email protected]
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