Chapter Corner

A Family That Goes Together Stays Together

Posted in: Features, August 2017

walkability.jpgWhat helps with the synergy of this experience is a family of lighting products. You should have all of your lighting products go together and complement one another. From the bollards to the post tops, and even bring businesses. Brex Lighting is one of those companies that really takes this concept to heart. It’s tricky to find a bollard that complements a post top and then also looks good with the highbays.
 
Currently, the way walkability is measured is with a Walk Score. It assigns scores between 0 and 100 – the closer and more accessible the location is to amenities, the higher it’s Walk Score.
 
Of course, it’s not just the quantity of walking that matters, but the quality of the lighting that promotes people to want to walk around. Walkable spaces should be enjoyable and safe places to shop, visit, and live. Walk appeal attempts to understand and measure how these abstract factors can be used to improve walkability.
 
Walkable communities are wealthier, healthier, and happier, and that’s no exaggeration. A high walking frequency is the hallmark of a healthy community.
 
With all the benefits, it’s no surprise that many planners are looking for ways to make their communities more walkable. They start with the lighting plan. Designers and builders have to make sure that walkways, shopping centers, and entertainment areas are not only well lit, but also beautifully designed with a family of products. Some walkability improvements require long term planning, but many can be completed by local groups and businesses that take initiative. In the end, a more walkable city is better for everyone.
 
Walkability makes it easy for residents to take more trips by foot. It is a highly desirable neighborhood feature, and like any other desirable feature, it increases property values.
 
UNDERSTANDING WALK SCORE
According to Walk Score, one point is worth $3,000 in home value, or an extra 0.9 percent. The results are much more pronounced in cities with a high population density; a Walk Score point increases home value dramatically in dense urban centers like Washington, DC (1.22 %), but is less important in low-density Orange County (0.02%). Because of its impact on property values, real-estate agencies routinely include walk scores on their property listings.
 
An independent 2009 study combined data from the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) and Walk Score to analyze the impact of walkability on all property values, including retail, industrial, and investment properties. It found that one Walk Score point increases property values by 0.5 to 0.8 percent, depending on property type.


Even if you have no vested interest in real-estate values, living in a walkable neighborhood is still good for your pocketbook. Vehicle ownership and maintenance is the second largest expense for most North American families. The ability to lower – or even eliminate – that expense by taking more trips by foot frees up money for other uses.

Because of all the benefits of having a family of products, realtors and municipalities are eager to quantify it for analysis. In decades past, the cost of such large-scale data collection would have been prohibitive, but recent developments in open source data have made it inexpensive and easy to access. 

The most well-known walkability index is Walk Score. It takes its source data directly from Google, Education.com, Open Street Map, the U.S. Census, Localeze, and places added by the Walk Score user community. Each address is assigned a rank between 0 and 100.

WHAT IMPACTS WALKABILITY?
The score is determined by analyzing walking routes to nearby amenities. Maximum points are awarded for amenities within a five-minute walk that are beautifully lit, with diminishing points for more distant destinations. The score also considers pedestrian friendly factors, like block length and intersection density. 

Walk score uses numeric measurements like distance and density because they are easy to analyze – resulting in a score that provides a good overall indicator of walkability, but not the complete picture.

There are many interdependent factors that contribute to community walkability, and the Walk Score system doesn’t account for all of them. First, it weighs all destinations equally. Any one of twenty-four identified amenities count equally towards a Walk Score.

That system may sound fair, but studies have shown that only grocery stores, schools, banks, restaurants, and bars have a significant impact on real-world walking. That flaw can artificially inflate the Walk Score in areas that are actually missing essential amenities.

Walk score also fails to account for sidewalk connectivity and width. Unfortunately, living close to all your favorite shops has limited value if the route lacks safe sidewalks. This is where the family of products comes in to play and helps. Adding something as simple as a bollard will turn a dangerous sidewalk into a safe and pleasant one.

Next time you are planning that park, shopping center, or neighborhood, think about a family of products to enhance your vision and contact Brex Lighting.

Jessica Bott is the marketing director at Brandon Industries. She is known for creativity, flexibility and providing effective coordination between technology and creative processes. Jessica has an uncanny ability to interpret the shifts in advertising markets and come up with just the right solutions. With over 15 years of experience, she is a creative force to be reckoned with.

WALK SCORE METHODOLOGY
90-100            WALKER'S PARADISE Daily errands do not require a car
70-89 VERY WALKABLE Most errands can be accomplished on foot
50-69 SOMEWHAT WALKABLE         Some errands can be accomplished on foot
25-49 CAR DEPENDENT Most errands require a car 
0-24 CAR DEPENDENT Almost all errands require a car