May 21, 2004

More Confirmation: Walkable Means More Than Sidewalks

A Baton Rouge, La. newspaper reports on what a consultant told city officials about trying to encourage development in an area around LSU:

"[RTKL's Paris] Rutherford said there are three main neighborhoods separated by Highland and Nicholson roads. While there are stretches of those two roads that are walkable, their ugly architecture -- something he called the "Jiffy Lube-effect" -- and fears of crime make few people want to do so.

"It's not a pleasant experience right now," he said.

I know I've said this before, but it really needs repeating: Installing sidewalks does not make a walkable neighborhood.

Putting in sidewalks on Rte. 30 does not mean anyone will actually want to walk there. Having sidewalks on Speen Street does not allow people to walk between the stores, restaurants and hotels there. Adding "mixed use" development in downtown Framingham will not revitalize the area unless there's a pedestrian-appealing streetscape. And installing sidewalks and building housing in the Natick Mall expansion project will not by itself make the project an appealing, walkable environment.

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