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What is a Walkable Neighborhood: The Epiphany

When Eric invited me to become part of the Walkable Neighborhood network, I was honored, and when he asked me to write some articles, I was, again, honored. Then I sat down at the computer and … nothing.

I was haunted by the same question, “what is a walkable neighborhood?”

Of course there are the “rules” that determine a walkable neighborhood. However, living in predominately-rural Midwest, I was struggling to fit my circle into that square-opening. So, I did what I usually do when writer's block hits me … I went for coffee. And that was where I received my answer.

I wasn”t sitting in my normal Delaware coffee shop, but rather out on the town. I stopped in the morning at a shop on a busy street. Sitting for 20 minutes, I was the only customer to enter the store, the rest going through the drive-thru. Later in the day, I ended up at the same chain but in a more “walkable” location. And that's when the epiphany happened.

• The two friends looking for an apartment to rent together in the corner,
• The couple in the process of splitting up on the couch,
• The prerequisite number of teenagers studying,
• The older men sitting reading the paper,
• And of course the busy working executives on the cellular phones coming and going with the business deals.

They — each and every one of them — are the definition of what makes a walkable neighborhood. “But Toby, they are so different,” you say. Exactly! The majority of our communities will have all these people in it. But is there that one location that they ALL will congregate? It doesn”t have to be a coffee shop, but it will see people relaxing and being themselves and a cross-section of your community.

Then you can apply the “rules” to the community to determines its walkability. However, without having the heart of a walkable community the walkable factor becomes simply a “stage” full of actors.

Walkable communities place pride on the community and the walkability just happens.

That's a walkable neighborhood I would be proud to call home.

Toby Boyce is a Realtor with Disbennett Real Estate Company in Delaware, Ohio, and author of www.delawareohrealestate.com .

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