Homes near walking or bicycle trails enjoy premiums of up to 10%

In an article in Market Watch yesterday, “homes near walkable, and often bikeable, trails enjoy premiums of between 5% to 10%, according to an analysis by Headwaters Economics, a research group focused on community development and land management issues.”

The article added, “What’s happening is, a little bit of the city is following people into the suburbs,” says Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based land and real estate research and education group. “Almost all the successful suburbs are building walkable, mixed-use centers.”

Mel Jones, a research scientist at the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech said in the Market Watch article, “No, millennials aren’t completely abandoning cities. They still flock to them, in fact. But increasingly they are viewing them as a place to work, rather than a place to live. But they’re willing to move farther out (and commute longer distances) as long as their towns are stocked with all the amenities they crave.

“What millennials want are places that have a vibrancy, where you … can shop, go out to bars, walk, and bike,” says Lynn Richards, president and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a Chicago-based advocacy group for more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

In just the past year, 136 communities from across the country applied to be designated as Bicycle Friendly Communities through the League of American Bicyclists. Sixty-three were suburbs and 17 were rural towns.

Also noted the article: “For a very long time we built up our towns and villages and cities to drive” in, says transportation consultant David Fields with San Francisco–based Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, adding that even drivers like to park their cars and walk around. “People ultimately want choice.” He says demand for biking-accessible communities is currently the highest he has ever seen.

No. 1 thing potential buyers of all ages want in their communities is walkability, concluded Market Watch.

Easy, proven ways to make it better for pedestrians

According to Wired Magazine, if you really want to get more people walking, install lots of street furniture, make sure there are plenty of windows on the ground floors of buildings, and prioritize spaces that engage passers-by—like stores—over those that don’t—like parking lots.

To encourage people to ditch their cars and walk, commission public art, let restaurants offer outdoor dining, and invest in grand plazas. These are great amenities, proven to make cities more livable for those who use their feet for things other than pushing the gas pedal.

But if you really want to get more people walking, install lots of street furniture, make sure there are plenty of windows on the ground floors of buildings, and prioritize spaces that engage passers-by—like stores—over those that don’t—like parking lots.

Read the rest of the article here and learn more about how the Pike District can foster walkability.

 

A few factoids to enliven the conversation at your fun-filled holiday weekend activities

With all of us making plans to ride bikes, take walks, and dine outside at a favorite restaurant’s sidewalk seating on this holiday weekend, I thought I’d cite a few healthy living factoids that you can toss around at your Memorial Day BBQ:

  • Twenty-five percent of Americans say that traffic makes it unsafe to walk in their neighborhoods

  • Nearly four in ten people –38 percent — say that their communities lack outdoor places for recreation

  • Fifty-four percent say shopping and entertainment are not within walking distance

  • Forty-eight percent say bike lanes are insufficient to make biking a practical mode of transportation

  • Half of Americans want to live in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, including sidewalks and crosswalks

  • One-fifth of Americans view walkability as a top priority. Fifty-two percent would like to live in a place where they do not need to use a car very often; this includes 63 percent of Millennials

  • Four percent of Americans consider convenient public transportation to be a low priority, while 32 percent consider it a high priority

  • Environmental quality is rated as a top priority or high priority by 87 percent of Americans.

  • Green space, including parks, is ranked as the top or high priority by more than 50 percent of Americans

  • About 50 percent rate proximity to family and friends and walkable neighborhoods as top or high priorities.

Thanks to America in 2015, released by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) for these statistics.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy-Memorial-DAy

MCDOT Acting Director Says There Is No More Room For New Roads In the County

The acting director of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, Al Roshdieh, announced that, “the local road network is essentially built out” and MCDOT’s focus will turn towards walkability strategies and creating other forms of transit in the county.

Roshdieh spoke about MCDOT’s approach in an interview published by the county last week. Roshdieh mentioned that MCDOT will focus their strategies on smart growth. This approach involves “taking a holistic view of all of MCDOT’s efforts and asking the question: How do we create the type of community that truly enhances our quality of life and how can our transportation system contribute?” 

Roshdieh also discussed Bus Rapid Transit as one of the strategies to decrease traffic congestion and will get more vehicles off the road. Creating multi-modal transit in the county is an important approach in creating a more transit-oriented, walkable community and we are happy to hear that MCDOT is focused on this.

As the White Flint Sector Plan continues to be implemented, we want to make sure that our county transportation systems, policies, and procdures are aligned with what we want our future community to look like.

“Walkability” vs. “Ability to Walk”

In relation to many of the discussions from our Friends of White Flint meeting last night, I want to discuss the important elements that define walkability. Many of our residents, local business owners, and property owners and developers are concerned about the walkability of the White Flint sector, which is essential to the success of this sector.

It is important to point out that there is a difference between providing the ability to walk and successful walkability of an area or sector.

John Olson focused certain elements that should exist in mixed-use areas, many of which you can see are important to the White Flint sector:

“Right-of-Way Dedicated to Automobile Travel (excluding on-street parking)”- Olson mentions that 50% or less of should be dedicated to the right of way of vehicles in a walkable area. In addition, efficient sidewalks, bicycling facilities, and other amenities should be the other dedication.

“Street Enclosure”- This focuses on the relationship of the ratios between the height and the width of a place and its effect on the comfort level of pedestrians and cyclists.The height of buildings should be proportionate to the width of the space or area (the street in this example).

“Building Adaptability”- Creating buildings/structures that can be easily adapted also adds to the walkability of an area. Building uses can shift especially in urban, mixed-used developments where cultural and community elements have major effects on the success of the development.

“Connectivity”- This may be the most important element especially for the White Flint sector. Creating a street grid that is a network can create connected roads, safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists “but also to connect the adjacent land uses (residential, office, parks, other commercial areas, etc.) too.”

“Maximum Parking”- Some parking is needed in mixed-used developments. On-street parking is a good strategy to use within the developments, giving some space for individuals who drive to frequent stores and restaurants. Getting rid of giant surface parking lots (something White Flint knows all too well), however, can both give more space to create commercial and residential spaces as well as cut down the reliance on cars for mobility.

 These are just some of the elements that define walkability. There are many more so what is important to you? It is really important that we hear from your members about walkability elements you hope to see here. Let us know what you think and any and all walkability concerns you want addressed by emailing us at info@whiteflint.org.

Map of 1/2 Mile Walking Distance to Metro Stations

PlanItMetro recently create a map showing what is within half a mile walking radius of every Metro station in area. Dan Reed, from Greater Greater Washington, pointed out that “walkshed is bigger in areas with a street grid and short blocks.”  These are the very features planned for the new White Flint. What other patterns do you see within in the map?

Check out the regional map for to see what is within half a mile of the White Flint Metro Station.

 

eGISBaseLTR_RailPedSheds-NonOverlap1

PlanItMetro 2014. DC Metro Stations

Walking is for All Ages

I’m often approached by older and more established residents who are concerned that the focus in White Flint is too heavily placed on drawing millenials, rather than attracting and keeping retirees.   In those conversations, I’ve pointed to several ways that the new White Flint will serve residents all along the age spectrum.  People at all stages of life are choosing to go car-free more and more.  Having the option to comfortably and safely walk is welcome when aging residents no longer wish to drive.

Experts agree that our environment affects our health and our longevity.  Daily activity and socialization provide a measurable boost to those living in quality neighborhoods.  Recently, William Satariano, a professor of epidemiology and community health at UC-Berkley, spoke on this very subject in an article for SFGate.com.  From that article:

Satariano and other experts say the relationship a person has to the surrounding environment becomes crucial as his or her body wears down. One-third to one-half of adults 65 or older are estimated to be physically impaired.

Lack of physical activity can lead to diminished muscle mass, osteoporosis and obesity, as well as isolation and depression, studies show. Those with limited mobility have a higher risk of needing health services, being institutionalized and prematurely dying.

These problems seem certain to increase as those in the Boomer generation become senior citizens. From 2000 to 2010, the 65-and-older population grew 15 percent to 40 million people, according to census data, making them the largest and fastest-growing demographic in the United States.

The South and Southwest regions of the country are aging the fastest, but the highest concentrations of seniors are in Florida, the Northeast and the Midwest, according to a Brookings Institution analysis. Suburbs are generally aging more rapidly than cities.

With those trends in mind, Satariano and others have set out to try to identify the elements of a neighborhood that encourage walking.

“If we have a good idea of those things, perhaps we can incorporate them into neighborhood design,” Satariano said.

Read the full piece from SFGate.com by clicking here!

Techniques to Make Places More Walkable

Jeff Speck is a global authority on the concept of “new urbanism,” and he happens to be local.  His book, Walkable City, is considered a near-treatise on why we’d want to transform car-oriented areas into places that are safe to navigate regardless of your mode of transportation.  But, who of us often has time to read such a book?

Luckily, The Atlantic’s CityLab has broken down Speck’s 10 major techniques for making places more walkable.  I’ll list them below but click here to read the full article, complete with justifications and explanations for each:

“1. Put Cars in their Place

2. Mix the Uses

3. Get the Parking Right

4. Let Transit Work

5. Protect the Pedestrian

6. Welcome Bikes

7. Shape the Spaces

8. Plant Trees

9. Make Friendly and Unique [Building] Faces

10. Pick Your Winners”

Click here for the whole piece and to understand what each of these mean.  Keep an eye out for them in the new White Flint!

 

Getting Out of Your Car Will Lengthen Your Life

There are many reasons we believe that the redevelopment of White Flint is an important step toward a healthier and more sustainable future.  Just one of those is the promise of being able to shorten our commutes.  Whether White Flint residents will live within walking distance to their work or to transit, studies continue to confirm that sitting in our cars during long commutes shortens our lives.  Most recently, Australian researchers determined that, compared to non-drivers:

people who spent two hours (or more) on the road every day were:

  • 78 percent more likely to be obese
  • 86 percent more likely to sleep poorly (less than seven hours)
  • 33 percent more likely to report feeling psychologically distressed
  • 43 percent more likely to say their quality of life was poor

The full article can be found in Shape magazine by clicking here.

White Flint Helps Boost Region’s Walkability Rating

A recent study has looked at 558 walkable urban places within the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the United States and has found that the Washington region is at the top of the list!  Rankings were determined by looking at how many of these walkable urban places were located within each metropolitan area, as well as how many retail and offices spaces were concentrated within.  The study was the product of a broad partnership but was led and authored by Chris Leinberger from George Washington University.

Of particular interest is the way they study map areas like ours.  Using labels like “downtown,” “urban commercial,” and “redeveloped drivable sub-urban” (likely the label most applying to White Flint), the study looks at how each of these categories impacts the behaviors and expectations of people in the area.  To that end, a related Washington Post article gets to the heart of our mission here for White Flint: making this a truly walkable place, where people actually walk.

As the Post article notes:

Developers in Tysons, White Flint and even New Carrollton area – often using updated zoning rules — are aggressively turning their strip center and office park properties into more walkable, urban nodes. Tysons is adding the Silver Line, White Flint may get bus rapid transit and New Carrollton already has Metro, Amtrak and MARC trains and will be home to a major mixed-use development anchored by the state housing department offices… All of this is likely to increase foot traffic. But anyone who has been to these places recently probably wasn’t walking.

Read the full study by clicking here.  Read the Washington Post article by clicking here.