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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Walk This Way - Daybreak Walkability

I love to walk. I walk for exercise, for peace of mind, for a change of scenery, to really "see" my neighborhood, and finally to actually get somewhere. I get to know my neighbors and my community much better if I walk around instead of driving. But is walking easy and convenient in Daybreak? The numerous trails and sidewalks provide miles and miles of walking paths, but to actually be walkable a community must have certain elements that promote and encourage residents to get out of their cars and use their sneakers. For this reason, one of the main features that is essential to a traditionally designed neighborhood is walkability.

I have found that most people carry a subjective opinion as to what they consider walkable. People who live in a highly urbanized city may consider a location walkable only if it is within a few blocks. On the other hand, I have met some athletic individuals who consider a walkable distance to be anything under five miles. Generally defined, walkability is the availability of most necessities (food, gas, school, etc.) within a comfortable walking distance of a home. A neighborhood is considered walkable if about 90% of the homes in the neighborhood are within a five to ten minute walk of the afore mentioned necessities. In terms of distance, most of these necessities should be located within a half mile. This distance requires pedestrians to walk at a speed of 3 miles per hour which is generally considered a comfortable pace for the majority of the population.

With these objective constraints in mind how walkable is Daybreak? Daybreak, for the most part, cannot be considered a walkable community at the moment. Sure you can get to school and the community center, but to get the basic every-day necessities you would have to walk well over a half mile using streets that are not necessarily pedestrian friendly. This measure will predictably change when the new Village Center is in place and functioning. The center will supposedly offer most everyday goods and services consumed by the average resident. Most Daybreak residents live within a half mile of where the center will be built and the streets leading to the center are pedestrian friendly.

The largest piece of the walkability puzzle that is missing is being able to walk to work. In most cases, I doubt that local residents who support themselves and their families will be able to earn a high enough wage working in retail to live in Daybreak. Possibly Kennecott employees, teachers and administrators from the local schools, and maybe a few others will be able to walk to work, but most people will drive. Creating a green field new urban development can be difficult, but the future bodes well for walkability. The future Daybreak Urban Center will be a place that can attract the type of jobs that Daybreak residents are likely to have. Bottom line: walkability is minimal at this point, but will increase substantially in the future.

1 comment:

dave said...

thanks for the interesting article, keep up the great posts!