Walkable cities do have a multitude of benefits in terms of social, environmental, and economic benefits. In this article, we will discuss the major social benefits of walkable cities, both in light of the direct impact on the well-being of people around and the positive community impacts.
Bernshtam on benefits of walkable cities
- Walkable cities promote active living
Living in a walkable city that allows more activity will benefit people of all age groups. It will not only help to make people live longer but also can build a sense of independence among the younger generation. Lately, we may notice that the number of kids who walk to school is very less, mostly due to the changes in public construction and hectic traffic. Bernshtam points out that walkable cities help socialize more and be more interactive.
- Improves mental health and happiness
Public spaces act like magic in terms of enhancing happiness around. Walkable cities naturally have more public spaces and room for socialization. Many research also backs up the fact that walkable cities improve happiness and social bonding. Walking will also help raise the endorphin levels, which can, in turn, help lower the stress cortisol and help the walkers sleep better. Research also found that the longer we tend to drive to work, the less happy we become. A study has shown that someone who walks to work is 40% happier than someone who drives to work.
- Reduces chances of diseases and obesity
As we know, by default, walking helps to burn more calories per minute, and the rate differs based on whether you do slow or brisk walking. So, regular strolls will help reduce the risk for any diseases like diabetes, colon cancer, heart failure, etc. A study done in various cities in America showed that walkable cities correlate with lowered risk for diabetes, less obesity, asthmatic conditions, heart disease, etc. So, building walkable cities will help improve a fit and healthy lifestyle for people, which will help increase their resilience to adverse health conditions and also help reduce the number of people getting affected with terminal lifestyle illnesses.
- Promoting social interactions and bonding
There is a naturally increased usage of public spaces in a walkable city, which will raise the frequency of interactions between people to help build strong ties among the neighbors. In walkable cities, the characteristics and structure of the streets around can positively impact the social life of people. A classic study shows that residents of the streets having slow and light traffic tend to have three times more friends in the neighborhoods than those who live by the busy roads.
- Reducing crime rate
An urban environment with more walkability may bring people out in the street and increase activities in the public spaces all the time. This will help improve safety perception and enhance confidence in people. Deserted walkways can naturally correlate to more crime rates, and speedy traffic can also cause the same. The city dwellers working closely with the police to enhance the public realm will help to cut crime dramatically over time. A study done over a period of two years in walkable cities had shown that the crime rate is lesser by about 30% and burglary by about 22% in such places.
There are a few social benefits of walkable cities as enlisted by Bernshtam; however, there are more evident and background advantages for the same.