Editorial
 
 


The rise of suburbs and accessible automobile culture in the 1950s had a drastic effect on the way 
the American landscape formed in the mid-20th century.  Shopping malls sprouted up across the 
country, effectively eliminating the need of a visit downtown to the local mom-and-pop store, and 
families began migrating to the countryside to escape the frenetic energy of the city.  At the same 
time, President Dwight D. Eisenhower championed the formation of the Interstate Highway System,
a transportation network that continues to be expanded to this day.  People no longer had as many
reasons to travel to city centers and urban stores.  A newer, more convenient way of life was 
taking over.
	
What did these innovations do to the way communities were designed?  In the beginning, many subdivisions across the United States did not employ sidewalks, and roads were not friendly to walkers.  If people wanted to get somewhere, they drove.  That began changing, however, over the course of the century.  You may remember in decades past that community golf courses were in high-demand and developers followed the trend closely.  Aging homeowners yearned for an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors without having to travel far from their homes.
	
While baby boomers are still enjoying these amenities within their community, they are also expanding their interest to other outdoor leisure activities.  Hiking trails, bike routes, and jogging paths are now replacing the one-time coveted golf course.  Champions of this diverse type of development call it New Urbanism, or the re-evaluation of communities into walkable, integrated, and mixed-use environments.
	
Millennials, too, are shaping the way planned communities are being developed nowadays and are standing strongly behind New Urbanism.  Exercise and the opportunity to engage with neighbors are focal points for the rising generation, spurring the demand for open spaces that are in close proximity to parks and trails.  The National Association of Realtors explains that 80% of respondents to a 2015 survey made it clear that it was very important or somewhat important to them to be within walking distance to community features, such as shops and parks.  
	
For some people, this isn't just a trend.  Low-income families and working youth that do not have access to cars rely heavily on public transportation and, in turn, a walkable community that is an amalgam of shops, offices, apartments, and homes.  Additionally, as commutes across the country continue to grow in length and time, walkability within a community becomes essential to a broader workforce.  The first and last stop of a public transportation journey is walking, and areas that are pedestrian friendly help to ease commuter stress, including concerns about crime and personal safety.  
	
This is a trend that isn't going anywhere any time soon.  That being said, let's embrace it.  Your clients may be disparate in age, but their desire for walkability and outdoor recreation opportunities is one in the same.  An inability or unwillingness to accept and take advantage of this new priority is a grave error to your business.  Study your customer base, learn your local zoning laws, and implement a plan to increase walkability for your clientele and your community.  It benefits everyone.
New Urbanism
The Changing Landscape of Developed Communities