Earlier this year, the Harvard Business Review blog briefly featured a study that compared a neighborhood of suburban Woodinville to one in urban Ballard. The blue lines in the graphic above illustrate the 1 kilometer reach of a pedestrian walking from the red dot in the center. This so-called walkshed is an important measure of ability from one to get from point A to B and helps us explain why one who lives in Ballard is more likely to walk to the grocery store or the local park than one in Woodinville.
The graphic also explains to us why transit ridership in Ballard is likely to be much higher than ridership in Woodinville, and why Woodinville has more driving. The study notes that those who live in communities like the Ballard neighborhood above drover 26% fewer miles than those in cul-de-sac-based communities.
Some cul-de-sacs are better than others, of course. Some suburban communities have cut-throughs that allow pedestrians and bicyclists to reach arterial streets and other roads efficiently. Most frequently, however, the paths available to pedestrians in suburban communities are the same twisty, maze-like roads that cars navigate. When developers don’t afford pedestrians an efficient means of getting around, it’s no surprise that many suburbs turn to auto-dependency.