Foot Traffic Ahead: Report Reveals the Resilience of Walkable Places

Reports of the city’s death have been greatly exaggerated, according to new research from Smart Growth America.

2 minute read

January 30, 2023, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Pedestrians crossing a busy crosswalk on New York City street with tall buildings in background

Ryan DeBerardinis / Crosswalk in New York City

Smart Growth America’s 2023 Foot Traffic Ahead (FTA) report firmly debunks the “death of the city” predicted during the pandemic. According to the report, “the city endures, and across most metros, grew walkable urbanism.”

The report examines changes in walkability in the nation’s 35 largest metropolitan areas, how that has impacted local housing costs, and “provides policymakers with recommendations on how to increase both the supply of and access to equitable, walkable development while safeguarding affordability.”

FTA finds that walkable urban places remain highly desirable, provide the most economic opportunity, and have a range of other benefits, but limited supply means many of these places are increasingly unaffordable for many Americans. “The major reason for the high walkable urban price premiums is the artificial constraint on walkable urban land availability,” the report states, blaming restrictive zoning for much of the problem.

Walkable urban areas have the potential to improve community health by promoting physical activity, can reduce emissions by decreasing car use, and can advance equity by bringing access to economic opportunity. It is critical that people of all backgrounds, especially those historically disadvantaged by racist land use, housing, and lending policy, have access to walkability and all the benefits associated with it.

The report recommends that policymakers focus on increasing the supply of walkable communities, reforming outdated zoning, planning for the impacts of climate change, and protecting affordable housing.

See the source article for a link to the full report.

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