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Walkable Neighborhood

For health, wealth, and community growth, walkability matters. At least, that is, according to The Atlantic, who recently collated a flurry of studies and city rankings about the effects of pedestrian-friendly communities.

“The popularity of sprawling auto-dependent suburbs is waning. A majority of Americans–six in 10–say they would prefer to live in walkable neighborhoods, in both cities and suburbs, if they could. [...]  Christopher Leinberger has shown the positive effects of walkability in cities, towns, and suburbs; the architects Ellen Dunham Jones and June Williamson have detailed ways that older car-oriented suburbs can be retrofitted into more people-friendly, mixed-use, walkable communities. And walkability pays. According to research by Joe Cortright, housing prices have held up better in more walkable communities.”

According to the magazine, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Philadelphia earned the top spots as America’s most walkable cities. Texas cities like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, on the other hand, didn’t do quite as well.

Now, obviously, more densely urbanized cities like New York and San Francisco will have higher walk scores due to increased need to invest in pedestrian-friendly infrastructure than more sprawling, car-necessary cities like Dallas and Houston. But as many recent mixed-use developments in the Dallas area have shown, low city-wide scores don’t prevent individual neighborhoods—whether urban, suburban, or rural—from developing the safe, inviting pedestrian-friendly environments that homebuyers crave. Suburban-heavy cities with high walk scores like Denver, Portland, Los Angeles prove it.

And in either environment, effective signage systems matters. If your community is in an urban environment, parking difficulties, heavy traffic, and increased access to public transportation will make walking much more of a convenience and necessity—and those same contributing factors make accidents more likely as well. For suburban or rural neighborhoods, folks usually need to walk further to get where they’re going, traffic tends to move at higher speeds, and there’s less lighting from dense city blocks—all challenges that can be helped by a well-designed signage system and (at night) network of attractive, coordinated street lights.

Walkable communities tend to have healthy kids and community-oriented populations—a combination reflected in the home values of pedestrian-friendly developments. From another study we quoted a few months ago:

“More than just a pleasant amenity, the walkability of cities translates directly into increases in home values. Homes located in more walkable neighborhoods—those with a mix of common daily shopping and social destinations within a short distance—command a price premium over otherwise similar homes in less walkable areas. Houses with the above- average levels of walkability command a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with just average levels of walkability in the typical metropolitan areas studied.”

So here’s the bottom line:

Street signs and outdoor lighting systems keep pedestrians safe and healthy. Pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods relish from higher home values. Our streetscapes, street signs and outdoor lighting systems can make it all happen—no matter where in the city your community is located.

We’d love to help make your community pedestrian-friendly. Contact our Dallas streetscape and street signs experts for more information.

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