walkable neighbourhoods are SMARTER.
Smarter neighborhoods are places where more of what we need is nearby. They make our lives easier by design, saving us time and money so we can focus more on the things that matter to us most. More time at home, less time in traffic. More time at the gym, less time getting there. Commuting time becomes family time. Car payments become mortgage payments.
Smarter growth means new developments are supported by infrastructure and city services that are already set up. More people living close to transit means our city’s transit investments have more of an impact. Overall, this simple, intuitive idea means huge savings, which can go towards improvements like better sidewalks, stronger public transit, and more recreation centres.
Smarter housing allows for intentional and measured housing density, so that the neighbourhood can support the flourishing of local small businesses, making the neighbourhood even more walkable in turn. It also means zoning for units in a variety of types and sizes, so that residents can right-size their choice of residence based on their own housing needs. For residents, city planners, and developers alike, walkable neighbourhoods are just smarter.
Walkable neighbourhoods make our lives smarter by design.
More Housing Options
Walkable neighbourhoods depend on increased lowrise density on existing neighbourhood streets. This form of housing produces the most affordable new units to rent. As Ottawa moves towards walkable development, our housing market could receive a wealth of these right sized, smartly built multi-unit homes. Great news for households suffering with today's rental shortage. And walkable neighbourhoods would also allow for more home ownership options that are cost competitive, and situate new homeowners closer to where they work and play.
Driving is Costly
Whether at the pumps or comparing insurance premiums, it’s hard not to notice how much our cars cost us. According to one US study, “while transportation used to absorb only one-tenth of a typical family’s budget (1960) it now consumes more than one in five dollars spent”. On average, families living in non-walkable neighbourhoods own at least one more car, and spend twice as much on transportation overall than those living in walkable ones.
In terms of its benefits to the local economy, a walkable neighbourhood is a gift that keeps on giving. While “almost 85% of money expended on cars and gas leaves the local economy”, one Australia-based study found that living in a transit-oriented neighbourhood was likely to save families about $750 000 over a lifetime, “most of which would be spent locally”.
When factoring in all the costs, driving is the least efficient way for us to get around. Walking, cycling, and public transit are so much more cost-efficient, cities like Portland have already taken big steps toward encouraging them. The average Portlander now drives 20% less. When you factor for costs and time, this means yearly savings of around $2.6 billion - around the cost of each phase of Ottawa’s LRT.
Portland's transition toward walkability has resulted in 20% less driving. When you factor for costs and time, this means yearly savings of around $2.6 billion - about the cost of each phase of Ottawa’s LRT.
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Montgomery, C. (2014). Happy City. Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada. p49.
Speck, J. (2012). Walkable Cities. Toronto, ON: D&M Publishers Inc. p29.
Newman, P., Beatley, T., Boyer, H. (2009). Resilient Cities. Washington, DC: Island Press. p120