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Earlier this year, a Kinder Institute survey found rising support for a walkable lifestyle in Houston. Also writing for the Kinder Institute, Hilary Ybarra discusses a new initiative to rework building codes on a place-by-place basis to encourage walkability.
While Houston at large isn't very walkable, specific sections can be made more so. "Manhattan and San Francisco are walkable, but so is a thriving small town Main Street, activated by lively street fronts and safe sidewalks, easily accessible from residential neighborhoods."
Ybarra discusses the 2009 Transit Corridor Ordinance, which incentivized pedestrian-friendly construction. The recently established Walkable Places Committee takes a different approach. The committee "is currently focused on creating an application-based process to establish specific 'walkable place' areas. Under this new system, any neighborhood could voluntarily apply to become a 'walkable place' and in doing so establish their own set of self-defined unique rules for development to encourage walkability."
"But once adopted, unlike the Transit Corridor Ordinance, neighborhood- and site-specific building rules would be required, not optional, for all new development." The current target is to adopt a new ordinance in 2019. The trick, Ybarra notes, is to connect pockets of walkability on a citywide scale.