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How to know if a neighborhood is truly walkable

How to know if a neighborhood is truly walkable
March 2, 2020 Allison Andrews

I love the vibe of walkable neighborhoods. Walking is better for the environment and better for overall health. I like being able to walk to dinner or have a beer at the local brewery and not worry about driving or parking in my neighborhood.

I go to my same neighborhood coffee shop every day.  I started frequenting this coffee shop Central Coffee about 6 years ago before it was walkable to where I now live.  This locally, family-owned coffee shop has been a cog in my community wheel since the moment I walked through the door.  I have forged relationships through my almost daily visits that are invaluable to me professionally, personally, creatively, etc.  It’s a warm welcome each day from people that I know and know me. It’s a bastion for industrious thinkers and workers. My coffee shop feeds my soul each day. It’s all the more valuable because I don’t commute to this nest of hope and warm welcoming goodness for all who enter, it’s in my backyard. 

People in Los Angeles can’t go anywhere without their cars. New York City is extremely walkable. In fact, many people there don’t even have cars. Charlotte is a bit of a mixture.  You have to drive to most places if you live in South Charlotte. On the other hand, there are a lot of walkable neighborhoods around Uptown.  In fact, I made a list my favorite streets in Charlotte to take a walk.

In order to be a truly walkable neighborhood, the neighborhood should meet certain criteria including:

  • Parks and public space
  • Pedestrian friendly with sidewalks
  • A mix of school, retail and work places in close proximity to the homes. lists 7 official characteristics of walkable neighborhoods. You can type in your address or neighborhood to get a score.

If you are looking at a home in an unfamiliar neighborhood, it can be a little hard to tell whether a neighborhood is truly walkable from that particular location. 

If you aren’t sure,  get out your phone and do a “near me” search. 

Open up Google Maps on your trusty smartphone and search restaurants near me… or coffee near me. Can you walk there from the home? 

Take a virtual walk.

Google Street view allows you to explore the area with an on the ground view. Does the route have sidewalks? Are there trees for shade? I don’t recommend using it to determine if an area is busy or safe because there’s no way to know when the photo was taken.

Ask the locals. 

After all, they already live there, right? Would they walk alone at night? Are there street lights?

Picnic tables, benches or other places to stop and sit are also a sign that a neighborhood is walkable.

If you are serious about a home, go back to the neighborhood at different times. Weekday mornings might look different than weekend mornings in terms of people and traffic patterns. 

Neighborhoods near or with easy access to Charlotte’s light rail take walkability one step further. Those communities give you an extra advantage because you can get to other areas of the city without a car.

Even if you live in an area where you can’t walk to yoga or a doctor’s appointment, I encourage you to just take a walk around your neighborhood. There are so many benefits! 

I specialize in walkable neighborhoods and I am happy to help you navigate the best around Charlotte.