walkable neighbourhoods are hAPPIER.

"The places you go on vacation are places you can walk. Why not make it everywhere?”[1]

It’s 8am, and the sun is out. In front of you is a tree-lined street, with light filtering through the canopy onto the sidewalk. A steady breeze carries the smell of fresh coffee to your nose as you walk past a coffee shop patio with around a dozen people: some are chatting, others are having a read. What if this isn’t a holiday you’re picturing, but a walk to the store or transit stop?

As city planning guru Peter Calthorpe writes, “The places you go on vacation are places you can walk. Why not make it everywhere?”[1] Let’s be bold for a moment. Let’s put our happiness front-and-centre, before the vacation. Research around the globe has shown us how significant a role our neighbourhood plays in determining our own happiness[2-6]. The answer it presents for our own neighbourhoods is simple: we make them a joy to walk in.

Less Commuting

Choosing to drive can be liberating - so long as it is a choice. Time and again, commuting ranks as people’s least favourite regular activity[7]. One study found that “a 23-minute commute had the same effect on happiness as a 19 percent reduction in income”.[8] One Swedish study even found that people whose commute was over 45 minutes were over 40 percent more likely to divorce.[9] Better public transit, bike paths, and more services within walking distance can improve neighbourhood happiness by giving us more options, while the greater housing availability that comes from zoning for walkable density means a better chance of living near where we work.

Let's put our happiness front-and-centre, before the vacation.

Parks and walkable neighbourhoods equal higher life satisfaction.[10] 

More Green Space

A transition to walkability means not just making the walk possible, but desirable. Often, this can mean additional trees, community gardens, or creating more and better access to parks. These changes affect neighbourhood happiness too: those living in neighbourhoods that are more walkable and have better parks and green space have been found to be more satisfied with their lives.[10] In fact, better access to green space has been linked to increased resident well-being in over 40 different studies.[11] The richness of urban green space can even be a more significant factor in increasing neighbourhood happiness than increased income.[12]

Studies show that people are happier with a 20-minute shorter commute than a 20% raise.[8]

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