Why Walkable Communities are Important

Building and supporting a community that supports walking is good for people, the environment and the economy. Here is how:

People who walk lower their risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Walkable communities provide greater opportunities for people to walk and be active in their neighbourhood.

  • 2/3 of Canadian children and youth are not active enough to lay a solid foundation for future health and well-being;

  • Improved vigour, self-esteem and a sense of well-being come from physical health and in turn contribute to healthier and happier personal relationships and improved productivity in work situations and at school;

  • Research shows that moderate physical activity reduces the risk of premature death, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, depression and colon cancer;

  • The effects of automobile emissions on health include increased susceptibility to respiratory infections in young children and the elderly.

When we walk instead of driving short distances we help keep the air and water clean.

  • Active transportation can contribute to national and global commitments for pollution prevention and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change/global warming;

  • Each motor trip that is switched to cycling or walking avoids releasing 2.6 grams of hydrocarbon, 367 grams of carbon dioxide, and 1.6 grams of nitrogen oxides per passenger mile;

  • Epidemiological analyses indicate that as many as 8% of all non-accidental deaths in the country are related to air pollution;

  • Bicycling and walking can help to alleviate some of the negative effects of intense motorization, including traffic congestion, air pollution excessive noise, and destruction of the environment;

  • Active modes do not cause disruptions to the local community environment, such as raising of dust and ground vibrations.

Traffic & Congenstion
When more people wak, there is less traffic. This means driving is safer and roads cost less to maintain.

  • A shift from personal vehicle use to an active mode may help reduce the incidence of motor vehicle crashes. In 1995, motor vehicle crashes in Canada killed 3,347 people (average of 10 people a day or annual equivalent of 10 jumbo jet crashes) and injured 241,800 (roughly equivalent to all the people of greater Victoria). From 1986 to 1995, a total of 5,179 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles and
    157,703 were injured;

  • American data suggest that active modes of transportation may be safer than those involving motor vehicles.

When people walk, they feel more a part of their community. They feel connected to the places where they live, work and play and more aware of the environment. When people are out walking and cycling, the streets are safer.

  • Active transportation leads to a reduction of crime and fostering of a greater sense of personal and family security in a community, through increased presence of “eyes on the street” with walkers, cyclists and the like being active in the neighbourhood;

  • More “eyes on the street” help deter crime and also provide neighbours and citizens with the sense and assurance that they are not alone, and that help is readily available when needed;

As people stay healthy, health care costs less. When communities are well-designed and compact, more people can get to the employment, education and social services they need.

  • Investing and supporting walkable communities can help the local economy in several ways including downtown revitalization, rural and urban trails, tourism, and job creation in businesses which service active modes like walking and cycling.

  • Active living leads to a reduction of health care costs because people are in better shape;

  • The Conference Board of Canada estimates that a 10% increase in the proportion of Canadians who are physically active could save $102 million annually from the treatment of ischemic heart disease.

  • In Canada, the environmental costs of transportation are estimated at $14-36 billion per year.

  • Reducing noise increases property values in residential areas, particularly if the noise of the morning commute is lessened.