These Boots Were Made for Walking

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adult-fashion-footwear-ground-1153838I have never owned a car. When most people find out I live in Calgary without a car their jaws drop and they usually exclaim something like “How do you live?!”. I usually shrug and say something about transit and owning a bike. Growing up in Toronto (yes, actual Toronto) it was pretty easy to get around on public transit so that just seemed like the natural thing to do when I moved here. I lived in a very walkable neighbourhood in Toronto and I lived in residence during university so there were lots of transit options.

What makes a neighbourhood “walkable”?

Walkability refers to a neighbourhood that is built with a variety of different land use with a small “center”. There are lots of small businesses along a main stretch or around a public space with a high enough population that businesses can flourish and transit runs through the area. Public spaces are well-lit and safe for cyclists and pedestrians. Some areas of Calgary are quite walkable (think of 17th Ave or Kensington) but if you live farther away from the downtown core you have to drive almost everywhere.

Did you know the average resident of a walkable neighbourhood weighs 6-10lb less than someone that lives in a sprawling neighbourhood? This becomes a chicken or the egg scenario; are people more active because they live in a walkable neighbourhood? Or do more walkable neighbourhoods naturally attract active people?

A 2008 study found that an increase in neighbourhood attractiveness increased physical activity. The addition of bike lanes led to a 225% increase in the number of cyclists, adding in sidewalks and crosswalks increased walking 37%. Outdoor fitness equipment resulted in people exercising more frequently.

How Walkable is Your Neighbourhood?

This is a great website that will score your neighbourhood based on how walkable it is. It will break down a score based on walking, cycling, and public transit. What I found really interesting was how much the score can change by just moving a few blocks. Growing up in Toronto, we lived a 10-15 minute walk from a TTC station that would take you downtown to the Royal Ontario Museum in 20 minutes. A few years ago my parents moved a little closer to downtown (about 5 stops closer to the ROM and a 10 minute drive from our old house) and the walkability score drastically goes up!

Walkability in Toronto

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