Urban Planner: How To Build A Walkable Neighborhood
Fredericks Offers Perspectives On Changing Communities
By Veronica Rueckert
According to a new poll from Kaiser Permanente, 40 percent of Americans said that they believe their neighborhood is unwalkable. In other words, to do the daily businses of life, like buying groceries, attending church or going to school, many people hop in the car, rev up and go instead of walking.
Eric Fredericks, an urban planner and founder of Walkable Neighborhoods, said he wants to change that. He said there are health benefits associated with walking, including weight loss.
Part of the problem, according to Fredericks, is that the country has too many single-family homes in urban sprawl environments.
"Millennilals and ... aging Baby Boomers prefer to live in areas where they don’t need to have a car," said Fredericks.
But even neighborhoods designed for cars can make changes that help them to become more pedestrian-positive. He said the city of San Jose is an example of what some communities have done to improve walkability. There, older strip malls built housing on top of storefronts and became multi-use spaces that function more like town centers or urban villages. Other places have banned parking between the building and the street.
"When that happens, drivers slow down because (they) start looking around ... it has this traffic calming effect," he said.
Aside from that, said Fredericks, other things communities can do is add bike lanes and plant trees.
According to Fredericks, this is "kind of a big shift" in what Americans want in their own neighborhood.