“Walkability” generally isn’t a word you’d throw out in casual conversation, but it is a term that’s been gaining in popularity over the last decade as it pertains to community design. If you’ve looked at any real estate websites or apps lately, you can see that homes are given what’s called a “walk score.” Developers are seeking designs that focus on the creation of walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods. People are considering transportation options (such as walking) when making a home purchase decision.

While it has risen to the forefront recently, walkability is not a new concept. It actually dates back to before the rise of the automobile (1920s) and was a key part of communities before urban sprawl took over. Today, experts study the benefits of walkable communities – examining everything from health benefits (there are many – both physical and mental) to economic impact (improved outcomes for local retailers). In addition, leaving the car behind means heightened environmental sustainability.

When NorthWest Crossing was envisioned more than a decade ago, its master plan included walkability as a core driver to the design. The plan was created to retain natural landscape elements, such as mature Ponderosa pines and natural rock outcroppings, while also providing intrinsic connectivity to encourage use of alternative transportation options (e.g. walking). Some people may not know that West Bend Property Company, NorthWest Crossing’s developer, worked directly with the city’s planning department to develop brand-new code that allowed a neighborhood overlay zone that included multiple uses – part of the sustainable, walkable plan from the beginning.

In addition, extra wide sidewalks lead to resources within walking distance:  retail, dining and schools; community garden, parks and open areas; and health care resources. Spring is coming; time to leave the car at home and walk!