Walking: It’s the new transit - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

Walking: It’s the new transit

In their vigilant quest to make more “livable” cities, urban planners have long held public transit to be the bell-weather of success. If your community has a good public transit system, then it is therefore livable. However, walkability is now trumping even transit as the gold standard.

Last week I presented at the National Governors Association Policy Academy on “Shaping a New approach to Transportation and Land Use Planning.” Many states still struggle with how to balance these two disciplines. Implementation is made all the more difficult by lack of coordination between state agencies: The state department of transportation usually takes the lead by default, leaving housing, environment and business development – among others – out of the mix.

Most speakers agreed on a common denominator that can unite planners across agencies, in all communities: building walkable communities. After all, whether you drive, take public transit, or ride a bike, most people begin and end their journey on foot.

The cities that focus on walkability, and really get it right, will be the ones to succeed in the future. Here’s more grist for the mill:

  • Copenhagen has been at it for 30 years, making incremental changes over time and slowly transforming the city and its people. Today, fully 60 percent of commuters ride their bikes or take transit – but they all begin with walking.
  • CEOs for Cities recently released Walking the Walk, which correlated higher real-estate values in 15 U.S. markets with more walkable communities, demonstrating greater demand for pedestrian-friendly homes. In fact the number of single-person households has increased by 50 percent in the last 30 years, while families with children have declined by nearly a half. These new American households desire dense walkable communities in which to live.
  • Chicago is embarking on its own pedestrian plan, building off the work of the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council. There is growing awareness that for Chicago to really succeed, it needs to become the most walkable city it can be.

Transit, affordable housing, and good schools remain vital components of sustainable communities. But a healthy pedestrian environment heralds so much more than an active life style – it marks a livable, successful 21st Century city.

Interested in learning more? On April 21, MPC is hosting Talking the Walk: The Importance of Pedestrian Friendly Public SpacesThis lunch roundtable will feature Sam Schwartz of Sam Schwartz Engineering, John Tolva from IBM, and Joe Gonzalez from DeStefano + Partners. Seating is limited, so register now!


No comments

More posts by Peter

All posts by Peter »

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »

Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.

Subscribe to Regionalist

Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at http://www.metroplanning.org/news/5826

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region

For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

Donate »