16 February 2009

Is Mission Viejo Walkable?

Taken from the guiding principles of the Internet site Walk Score, which is devoted to helping people find walkable places to live:

Walkable Neighborhoods
Picture a walkable neighborhood. You lose weight each time you walk to the grocery store. You stumble home from last call without waiting for a cab. You spend less money on your car—or you don't own a car. When you shop, you support your local economy. You talk to your neighbors.

What makes a neighborhood walkable?
A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernible center, whether it's a shopping district, a main street, or a public space.
Density: The neighborhood is compact enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently.
Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other.
Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play.
Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back.
Nearby schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.

Streets Designed for Everyone
Complete Streets are roads are designed for everyone who uses them, including bicyclists, pedestrians of all ages and abilities, and people getting on and off transit vehicles. These streets are:
Accessible: There are wheelchair ramps, plenty of benches with shade, sidewalks on all streets, etc.
Well-connected: Streets form a connected grid that improves traffic by providing many routes to any destination.
Built for the right speed: Lanes are narrow or traffic calming is in place to control speed.
Comfortable: Pedestrian medians at intersections, count-down crosswalk timers, bicycle lanes, protected bus shelters, etc. make the street work better for those outside of a car.

How does Mission Viejo compare?
If you were to live nearby or drive to, park, and then walk from the 'Central Hub' of Mission Viejo, we look pretty good...on paper that is. How many of these businesses are actually worth walking to? And, do you feel comfortable walking from one to another? Walking along Margurite's 5' wide curb adjacent sidewalk, next to a tiny, poorly maintained landscape setback is anything but comfortable to me. Hopefully the City is taking this into account in their street widening efforts and maybe one day Mission Viejo will transform from a typical suburban city to a community.

1 comment:

  1. I love this topic when designing projects with the bigger picture in mind. Whenever my wife and I travel, we always to most of our exploring by foot. It's the best way to integrate yourself in the place. It's a shame that so many of our neighborhoods (in Orange County) are so stretched out and experience-less by foot.