Walkability isn’t just good for your health, it’s good for the planet

Street scene lined with shops. People walk unhurriedly through the space. The atmosphere feels convenient, safe and attractive. Walking is good for you and good for the planet.

By Ben Crowther

Every day is a great day for a walk. But on Earth Day, it’s important to remember that walking isn’t just good for your health, it’s also good for the planet.

Transportation remains the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, with travel from cars and trucks accounting for over half the sector’s emissions. How do we reduce that number? Walkable places, for as many people as possible, is an essential part of the solution.

Walking is a zero-emissions form of transportation. It pairs well with other more sustainable modes of transportation, like public transit  –  a walk to the bus stop can get you across town. Millions of Americans, in both rural and urban settings, already rely on walking to get to jobs, to get to school, and to access necessary services and businesses.

We can get millions more Americans to choose walking as a form of transportation by making it a convenient, safe, and attractive option. If we do, we can reduce transportation fuel consumption by around 25%, according to the scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

What makes walking convenient, safe, and attractive? Safe routes, with elements like ample sidewalks, street trees for shade, and traffic calming measures, are one half of the equation. The other half is having destinations nearby. Homes, businesses, services, and amenities near each other makes it easier to walk and builds a sense of community for residents.

If you’re looking to make a commitment on Earth Day, we at America Walks have a pair of actions you can take for a better, more walkable planet: