The term ‘walkability’ is getting used more and more these days and is becoming increasingly important to millennials when making their decision on where they choose to live and play. So, what is ‘walkability’ and what makes an area tick all the boxes to earn the right to call itself ‘walkable’?
According to Wikipedia, “Walkability is a measure of how friendly an area is to walking. Walkability has health, environmental, and economic benefits and is an important concept in sustainable urban design”.
If an area is walkable there may also be health and social benefits as people will be more inclined to walk to the shops or cafes or simply walk for the exercise.
Walkability and Urban Design
Urbandesign.com.au, noted in their Urban Design protocol for Australian Cities the following when describing what makes a place enjoyable and easy to walk and bicycle around:
1. It prioritises people walking or riding before vehicles
2. It is easy to get around on foot, bike, wheelchair, pushing a pram or wheeling luggage
3. Buildings and streets feel like they’re the right size and type for that place
4. It encourages physical activity and social interaction and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Walkability and health benefits
The Heart Foundation is one organisation that sees the benefits of a ‘walkable’ community and have even developed their own checklist people can use to assess their usual walking route and provide feedback to their local council on issues that may need addressing.The checklist covers four main areas and has a range of questions within in category of:
1 .Walker friendliness;
3. Safety; and
4. Convenience and connectedness.
Developments need to be in areas that are walkable
As a developer, when I choose the location for a project ‘walkability’ is something that I take into consideration.It is important for people to be able to get to restaurants, cafes and local shops without a vehicle.It is also important that there are established paths and walkways that will mean there are safe options for walking and enjoying the climate offered here on the Sunshine Coast.
While the Sunshine Coast as a whole is too large to be completely walkable, we are getting better in terms of delivering well thought out and planned walkways and paths.Many established walkways offer views and are wide enough for people to pass safely past each other.
New CBD will be walkable
When completed the new CBD in Maroochydore will be a safe, walkable and active city centre.In fact, ‘walkability’ was a key component in its design.The new CBD is also close enough for people to be able to walk to the beach or to the neighbouring shopping centre, and when complete will also allow people to easily access hotels, gyms, restaurants and bars which will all be in walking distance of its heart.
As we grow as an area, walkability is becoming increasingly important and the heart of Maroochydore is being transformed into an exciting hub that will very soon be a thriving centre where many people will live, work and play – and some may even ditch the car altogether.
Urban design incorporates many components but with walkability such a crucial factor as developers we simply cannot fail to deliver on this important objective.