Resources & Data


Benefits of a Walkable Community

Economic Development

Paved with Gold: the Real Value of Good Street Design, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, London 2007. This study shows that investments in pedestrian safety and an attractive street environment brings quantifiable financial returns. Key Finding: On a seven-point pedestrian environment scale, every one point increase in walkability was associated with 5.2% higher retail prices and 4.9% higher commercial rents.

Economic Value of Walkability, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, September 2009, citing a study by Accent Marketing and Research. Key Finding: This study of consumer expenditures in British towns found that customers who walk spend significantly more (£91) compared to those who drive (£64), take transit (£63), or arrive by taxi, bicycling, or other mode (£56).

Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities, by Joseph Cortright, CEO’s for Cities.  Analyzed data from 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 major markets and found that in 13 of the 15 markets, higher levels of walkability, as measured by Walk Score, were directly linked to higher home values. Key Finding: Houses with the above-average levels of walkability command a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with just average levels of walkability.

The Economic Benefits of Walkable Communities, Local Government Commission An excellent 4-page fact sheet summarizing economic arguments and findings for walkability. Key Finding: A 1998 case study of West Palm Beach, Florida, showed walkability improvements doubled both home prices and commercial rents.

Economic Benefits, Key Finding: According to 2004 data from AAA estimates and US Census surveys, ownership costs of one motor vehicle — $7,834 for a sedan (AAA, Your Driving Costs) — accounts for more than 18 percent of a typical household’s income.  The marginal cost of walking is near zero, and arguably negative because of the significant health benefits gained.


Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States, by The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC analyzed numerous studies of the health effects of increasing walkability and traffic safety.  Key Finding: “On the basis of sufficient evidence of effectiveness, the Community Guide recommends implementing community-scale and street-scale urban design and land use policies to promote physical activity, including design components to improve street lighting, infrastructure projects to increase safety of pedestrian street crossings, and use of traffic calming approaches such as speed humps and traffic circles. “

The National Physical Activity Plan, by an expert panel including the CDC, American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, AARP,  YMCA, and others, was released May 3, 2010.  Key Finding: The Plan recommends, among other strategies, these four concerning community design and transportation:

  • Accountability ensuring that infrastructure supports active transportation options;
  • Resources and incentives to increase active transportation through design, infrastructure projects, policies, systems, and initiatives;
  • Integrate health planning into land-use, transportation, and economic development plans;
  • Increase connectivity and accessibility (critical aspects of “walkability”) to essential community destinations.

Mental Health

British researchers assessed the role the environment plays in the effectiveness of exercise for mental well-being.  Participants were assigned to either a green outdoor walk or an indoor shopping-mall walk, for the same amount of time. Key Finding: Improvements in self-esteem and mood were significantly greater following the green outdoor walk in comparison to the equivalent indoor walk, especially for feelings of anger, depression and tension.  Parks and street trees can help generate the green exercise benefits. [1]

1. Green Exercise Research Website, University of Essex.