What is a Walk “able” Community?

Do you have sidewalks that are in good condition in your neighborhood?  Are there locations such as grocery stores and parks that are within walking distance of where you live?  Can you safely walk to these locations?  A walkable community is described as a community that contains elements, which by their design naturally support walking and/or biking to reach destinations commonly visited by residents.

Walking experts look for 4 main elements when conducting a walkability assessment of a community.  These elements are:

  • A good mix of land use.  They look at the location and distance of housing, recreation, businesses etc. in a defined area.
  • Are there good connections between these locations?  (i.e. sidewalks, bike paths, pedestrian crossings)
  • Are the destinations in a community appealing so that residents will want to go to them instead of traveling further distances?
  • Is the community safe?  Safety elements include crime activity; presence/absence of pedestrian crosswalks and traffic signs/signals at intersections; level of traffic etc.

Portsmouth Walks

Portsmouth Walks is a project of Healthy Portsmouth to encourage youth and their families to become more active by walking in their neighborhood.  In the fall of 2010, we launched our first Portsmouth Walks project in the Port Norfolk community.   Members of the Port Norfolk civic league were instrumental in guiding this project, which led to selecting walking routes that were enhanced by adding crosswalks, ADA ramps and walking trail signs.

See pictures from Portsmouth Walks Project: Click here to view pictures on Flicker.

Port Norfolk Community Map:  Click here to view and download PDF map.

For more information on walkable communities, check out these websites:

America Walks:  http://americawalks.org/

Walk Live:  http://www.walklive.org/

Good video by walking expert, Mark Fenton, explaining a “walkability” audit:  http://www.nspapph.org/resources/video.html

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"There are an array of resources in Portsmouth from Hoffler Creek to the farmer's market; from walking along the waterfront to playing at the City Park that can support healthy lifestyles."

Healthy Portsmouth
C/O Eastern Virginia Medical School
Department of Pediatrics
P.O. Box 1980, Norfolk, Virginia 23501