Steve Mouzon created a useful concept called Walk Appeal, which expands on the quarter-mile "ped shed" that new urbanists have been using for two or three decades. The ped-shed circles — representing the five-minute walk — are helpful in organizing a plan, but they are a blunt instrument for approximating how far a typical person will walk, Mouzon points out. Here are links to Mouzon's entire four-part series — published in Better! Cities & Towns — on the concept and how it could help us to allow more people to walk further and improve public health, the environment, and local economies. Click on the titles, followed by the first paragraph of Steve's text for each piece.
Walk Appeal promises to be a major new tool for understanding and building walkable places, and it explains several things that were heretofore either contradictory or mysterious. It begins with the assertion that the quarter-mile radius (or 5-minute walk,) which has been held up for a century as the distance Americans will walk before driving, is actually a myth.
Streets and the streetscapes that surround them have several measurable things that can tell us which standard of Walk Appeal the street provides. We'll look at the things that can be measured in this post, then talk about the things that can't be measured afterward.
People on the street, lovable things along the way, and the magic of the city are three Walk Appeal factors I have no idea how to measure, but they clearly contribute to making more walkable places. How do you think they might be measured? And what other immeasurables have I left out? As I was writing this, George Osner tweeted a link to a new post by my friend Kaid Benfield on Walk Appeal. Kaid lays out several other immeasurables I hadn't thought of, which I'll comment on as well.
Here's where Walk Appeal gets really interesting, and walkability theory turns into real-world survival … or thriving. This is a satellite photo of St. Charles, Missouri. They have an iconic American Main Street there, just off the river. I've selected a random store near the middle of Main Street; it's the black star in the green circle. Next, I looked at the conditions on the ground to see how far people might walk.
For more in-depth coverage:
• Subscribe to Better! Cities & Towns to read all of the articles (print+online) on implementation of greener, stronger, cities and towns.
• See the July-August 2012 issue of Better! Cities & Towns.Topics: Urban retail, Street fear in new urban neighborhood, Subdivisions without a pulse, Walk Appeal, Pruitt-Igoe, The neighborhood hardware store, Columbia Pike in Arlington, Urban and environmental e-books, The Economics of Place, Design After Decline, Urban thoroughfares
• Get New Urbanism: Best Practices Guide, packed with more than 800 informative photos, plans, tables, and other illustrations, this book is the best single guide to implementing better cities and towns.