The Importance of Walkability and Access to Public Transportation

May 5, 2018 by Julia Rae
walkability

Community and interconnectivity are important human needs that are best supported by compact development. The intention of compact development strategies is to bring people and resources closer together to reduce the need for travel and fuel usage, making urban processes more efficient. Walkable communities offer users benefits in terms of health, convenience, and productivity. Quality public transportation provides additional economic and personal benefits to residents and businesses. This is important for investors as they consider the design, development, and ongoing operation of commercial and residential properties.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

Public transportation and walkability support the reduction of carbon omissions by removing vehicle-produced pollutants from the equation. This results in higher overall air-quality within the community. Reduced emissions also protect groundwater by minimizing the amount of toxins that percolate down to the water table. Many public transportation vehicles use alternative propulsion sources and contribute less to the greenhouse effect. The reduction in air pollution supports human health and increases overall appeal and demand, contributing to sustained and increasing property values.

Encouraging Exercise and Reducing Healthcare Costs Through Walkability

Walkability and public transportation have the added benefit of encouraging occupants and building users to get more exercise in their day. Walking to and from the transit station, or using public bike rentals such as OFO or Lime, provides the opportunity for exercise and reflection, supporting physical and psychological well-being of citizens and professionals. Open areas and opportunities for walking and biking have been proven to bolster employee productivity and satisfaction. An added benefit for your business, active employees lead to diminished health care costs and lower rates on health insurance.

Supporting the Labor Market and Enhanced Mobility

Providing public transportation and planning communities for walkability increases the appeal to potential laborers seeking employment. If your portfolio holdings are intended to be used as rentals, which they almost certainly are, local industry and the availability of labor will be vital in assessing the viability of the market for investment. The potential cost savings due to the availability of public transportation represents a valuable benefit for relocation that can drive population growth and availability of skilled laborers. Additionally, public transportation and walkable paths provide more opportunities for mobility-limited citizens, increasing the overall economic output of the community.

Encouraging Retail Growth and Tourism

Walkability is also important for the local economy, especially retail. Strong foot traffic is an important element for urban retailers and reduces the consumer’s time spent traveling to acquire resources. It provides ample social opportunities, strengthening rapport within the community. Walkable communities tend to be more appealing to tourists. Well planned-out communities make it easier for tourists to enjoy the cultural and economic features of the community. Tourism supports local growth, business revenues, and the diversity of the community. If your niche is vacation rentals, tourism demand will be an important factor to consider.

Reduced Traffic Congestion and Greater Safety

Additional benefits of walkability and public transportation are reduced traffic congestion and greater transportation safety. Buses, trains and other public methods are more reliable, provide economical travel options, and result in fewer accidents compared to the use of individual vehicles. The associated reduction in traffic congestion makes the community more appealing to prospective residents. Business and industry are drawn to communities that provide quality transportation infrastructure. Local traffic conditions that hamper logistics interfere with economic growth and decrease appeal to investors. Well planned traffic systems that incorporate public transportation create the best environment for strong rental demand and lease rate appreciation.

Limiting Hardscapes and Preserving Open Space

Compact urban design also emphasizes the limitation of paved and other built surfaces. Limiting the building footprint diminishes the need to disrupt natural habitats. Sustainability conscious designs incorporate open space and natural elements of the habitat, allowing harmony with native species. Smaller footprints also allow more rainwater to reach the soil, allowing it to be naturally filtered and treated by the earth. Rainwater that hits hard surfaces collects oil and other toxins. The storm runoff typically finds its way into rivers, streams, and other bodies of water.

Strong Demand

When you’re conducting your due diligence for a potential acquisition, or selecting a site for new development, it’s important to review how the environment, human health, and the local economy is supported by a walkable community and the availability of quality public transportation. Investments within compact urban environments typically experience strong demand. Partner with a proven investment platform that helps provide the data and insight required to make strong investment decisions.