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  THE TOWN PAPER
VOL. 3, NO. 4 -- JUNE/JULY 2001
 

Ten Keys to Walkable/Livable Communities

By Dan Burden

1. Compact, lively town center. Buildings frame streets; block lengths are short. Merchants take pride in their shops' appearances. A variety of stores offer local products and services. Significant housing is found at downtown or village center sites. There is unique and distinct personality or character to the place.

2. Many linkages to neighborhoods (including walkways, trails and roadways). People have choices of many routes from their homes to the center, the most direct are walking routes. All sidewalks are at least 5 feet wide and most are buffered from streets by planting strips, bike lanes or on-street parking. Well-maintained sidewalks are found on both sides of most streets. Bike lanes are found on most streets. Most streets have good ADA access to and from each block in all directions.

3. Low speed streets. Most motorists behave well in the downtown or village center and near public areas by yielding to pedestrians. Motorists make their turns at low speed. Few places force motorists to stop. Yield conditions are most common.

4. Neighborhood schools and parks. Most children are able to walk or bicycle to school and nearby parks. There is limited or no busing of school children. Most residents live within a half-mile (preferably a quarter-mile) of small parks or other well-maintained and attractive public spaces.

5. Public places for all. Many services and facilities support and attract children, teens, people with disabilities and senior citizens to most public spaces. Public restrooms, drinking fountains and sitting places are common in many parts of town.

6. Convenient, safe and easy street crossings. Downtowns and village centers have frequent, convenient, well-designed street crossings.

7. Inspiring and well-maintained public space. The community has many "green" streets with trees and landscaping. The town form respects the need for plenty of green and open space. Heritage trees line many streets. Development practices call for street trees and planter strips; homes are clustered to maximize green space. Trails and passageways through natural areas are featured in many parts of town. Landscaping is respectful of place, often featuring native species, drought resistant plants, colorful materials, stone treatments or other local treats. In desert and high country areas, many methods are used to minimize use of water and other precious resources.

8. Mutually beneficial land use and transportation. People understand and support compact development, urban infill, integral placement of mixed-use buildings, and mixed-income neighborhoods. The built environment is of human scale. Heritage buildings are respected. People support their small, local stores. Residents seek ways to include affordable homes in most neighborhoods. Transit connects centers of attraction with schedules so frequent that times need not be posted. Residents have choice of travel modes to most destinations.

9. Celebrated public space and public life. Streets, plazas, parks and waterfronts are fun, festive, secure, convenient, efficient, comfortable and welcoming places. Public space is tidy, well-kept, respected and loved. Many of these places are surrounded by residential properties ensuring eyes on the streets. These areas have many places to sit. Few or no buildings have large blank walls, and few or no open parking lots exist off-street. Any parking lots have great edges and greens.

10. Many people walking. Many diverse people are walking in most areas of town. There are no rules against loitering. Lingering in public places is encouraged and celebrated. Children rarely need to ask parents for transportation.