Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Survey: Majority of Americans Want Walkable Neighborhoods

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Last week's Boise Weekly featured a cover story on bicycle laws and infrastructure. It's an important time to discuss the issue as Congress is currently considering MAP-21, a bill that would strip funding from walking and cycling infrastructure.

Meanwhile, a new survey released by the National Association of Realtors shows that a majority of Americans want walkable neighborhoods when purchasing a house.

Here's a few bullet points from the survey:

Nearly six in ten adults (58%) would prefer to live in a neighborhood with a mix of houses and stores and other businesses within an easy walk. Four in ten (40%) select a community with housing only, where residents need to drive to get to businesses.

Community factors such as high quality public schools (75% very or somewhat important) and sidewalks and places to take walks (77%) are among the top community characteristics people consider important when deciding where to live.

Two-thirds (66% very or somewhat important) see being within an easy walk of places in their community as an important factor in deciding where to live. Specifically, being within an easy walk of a grocery store (75%), pharmacy (65%), hospital (61%), and restaurants (60%) is important to at least six in ten Americans.

The survey's breakdown of who wants to live where is also quite interesting. Again, a few bullet points:

Younger people who are unmarried tend to prefer the convenience of smart growth, walkable communities. Subdivision-type communities appeal more to middle-aged, married couples.

Political views are predictive of what type of communities Americans prefer. Democrats and liberals tend to prefer smart growth-type communities, while Republicans and conservatives are more likely to favor sprawl-type communities.

In general, adults’ current housing situations reflect their preferences. Those who live in housing-only suburbs, small towns and rural areas prefer more spread out, less-walkable communities, whereas urban residents and those who live in suburbs with a mix of housing and businesses prefer more walkable, smart growth-type communities.

Those on both ends of the socioeconomic scale tend to prefer smart growth communities while those in the middle are more drawn to sprawl-type communities.

Boise Weekly will continue to follow the transportation funding bill.

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