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Americans Increasingly Want to Live in Walkable Cities

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Urban neighborhoods where residents primarily walk are both more economically vibrant and also more expensive than their suburban counterparts. Two researchers from the Brookings Institution, Christopher B. Leinberge and Mariela Alfonzo, studied different neighborhoods in the greater Washington, D.C., area, judging the “walkability” of different neighborhoods on the basis of features such as aesthetics, personal safety, traffic signals and pedestrian amenities like good sidewalks and street furniture. They found a strong correlation between the walkability of a neighborhood and its economic health.

For each step up the five-tiered walkability scale developed by the researchers, a store was likely to boost its sales by nearly 80 percent, thanks to increased foot traffic. They found that these increased sales occurred because, while walkers and transit users spend less per visit to local businesses than drivers do, they make more visits. Rental rates for apartments, office space and storefronts were higher as well.

This exposes one of the underlying economic tensions in walkable communities. Lower transportation costs often come alongside higher rents, placing these neighborhoods out of reach for lower-income Americans.

“Based on data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, we found that places with fair to very good walkability have significantly lower transportation costs than do places with poor to very poor walkability,” wrote Mr. Leinberge and Ms. Alfonzo. “Alternatively, walkable areas have significantly higher housing costs than those with fewer environmental amenities.

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No Longer Too Cheap to Meter: Water Infrastructure, Equity, and Affordability

The cost of living has been rising across the U.S. even as incomes stagnate. While increases in big ticket items like housing and health insurance make the news, growing water bills have gained less attention. Water was relatively inexpensive for so long that many communities only began to meter usage in recent years. But costs are on the rise and without some proactive solutions the situation is only going to get worse. In municipalities with growing populations or service areas,... Continue reading »

 

Featured Publication

RainReady Calumet Park

CNT
March 10, 2017

The RainReady Calumet Corridor Plan represents the collective vision of over 2,100 residents, business owners, and municipal staff, elected representatives, regional leaders, and non-governmental organizations that all share interest in strengthening the homes, neighborhoods, communities throughout the Calumet Corridor in the south suburbs of Chicago. This document focuses on the Village of Calumet Park, Illinois.

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