6 min read
Book a Free Consultation

A Guide To Becoming A More Walkable City: 15 Minute City Insights

By Stephen Brandofino

Ensuring that your local community is walkable and pedestrian friendly is a big part of successful city planning. Local governments are responsible for the maintenance of streets and outdoor public infrastructure, which is a tall task when strategies aren’t in place to achieve safe outcomes. 

Becoming a more walkable city increases accessibility, stimulates the economy, and encourages citizen engagement. Residents of all socioeconomic statuses benefit from walkable, safe, easy-to-navigate cities that allow them to travel without needing to own a car. In fact, cities that provide citizens with the ability to navigate to any essential establishment (grocery stores, clinics, parks, post office, etc.) on foot are referred to as 15 minute cities

But how can local governments ensure their communities are walkable and more importantly, safe for constituents to travel on foot? 

The answer to creating a culture of pedestrian safety and security requires local officials to prioritize implementing strategies that address walkability, accessibility, street visibility, and constituent safety. Keep reading to learn about the best practices and strategies to foster a more walkable and inclusive city for all. 

What Will This Guide Cover? 

  • How To Maintain Safe Streets 
  • How To Become A More Walkable City 
  • The Benefits of A Walkable City 

Why Are Walkable Cities Important? 

Walkable cities are extremely important for the well-being of residents because they create accessibility of travel and ease of access to essential services without requiring a motor-vehicle and the expenses that come with it. 

Many residents in your area likely don’t have the means or ability to own and operate a car, so opening up the city to them through prioritizing walkability will make all the difference in their quality of life. Walkable, 15-minute cities save constituents money, keep the environment cleaner, and encourage healthy exercise options through foot travel. 

Think of all the residents that experience limitations of school and career options simply because they live in a desolate area that is not walkable. These hardships can be lessened for citizens when they are able to get to a variety of public spaces and businesses opting to walk or bike. 

Read our 15-Minute City Guide for Local Governments here!  

What Makes A 15-Minute City?

15-minute cities make it possible for citizens to access various different businesses and shops without having to drive, instead traveling on foot and reaching any destination they need to within fifteen minutes. Here are some ways to foster a 15-minute city:

  • Safe Streets 

Public safety is likely the first and most important aspect of creating a 15 minute city. Constituents deserve to feel safe when they’re walking around your city, especially at night when it gets dark out. No citizens will opt to take the environmentally-friendly option of walking or biking if they feel anxiety about their well-being. 

Ensuring your streets are safe requires city planners and local law enforcement officials to collaborate on the most effective ways to safeguard your community. This means ensuring public infrastructure like street lights and in-tact sidewalks are operational and in good condition. 

Read more about How Your Local Government Can Improve Community Safety with our resource! 

  • Strategic City Planning 

City planners make all the difference between a walkable city and a city that requires constituents to use motor vehicles to travel. City planners are responsible for ensuring your community has mixed-use developments to integrate residential, commercial, and recreational spaces into every neighborhood seamlessly. This mixed-use development strategy reduces the need for long commutes to work, stores, and essential services.

City planners can integrate plans to prioritize designing streets with pedestrians in mind, featuring wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and traffic calming measures (like speed bumps and raised crosswalks). 

Check out GovPilot’s Planning & Zoning Department Software here. 

  • Essential Services and Stores Are Located In Every Neighborhood

15-minute cities exist when constituents have the ability to walk to a range of stores, doctors offices, public spaces, parks, and government buildings within fifteen minutes. The location of these spaces should be available within fifteen minutes of every neighborhood in your city. 

When citizens can reach these essentials without a car, they will likely opt to walk as it is convenient and accessible for those without access to a driver's license or a car. 15-minute cities foster citizen well-being as walking is the healthier, more affordable, and more economical way to travel for many residents in your community. 

Best Practices For Ensuring Your Streets Are Safe 

Keeping your streets safe is the most important aspect of creating a 15-minute city for residents. Read on to learn some of the key best practices for ensuring safe and walkable streets. 

  • Maintain Proper Street Infrastructure 

Street lights and other vital infrastructure such as well-maintained sidewalks, buffer zones, and safe crosswalks make all the difference when it comes to creating a 15-minute city. 

Residents won’t travel on foot if the infrastructure is not in place to support them. Encouraging residents to travel by walking or biking requires local governments and their public works department to stay up to date on local inspections of this public infrastructure and even to create new solutions that support pedestrians.

Check out our article on Disability Inclusion Planning in Government here. 

  • Neighborhood Watch Groups 

Many neighborhoods implement neighborhood watch groups in order to keep their eye on residents and deter crime from permeating their area. These groups can and should be supported by your local government, as they are positive community groups aimed at improving the safety and security of citizens. 

Neighborhood watch groups keep streets safe by maintaining patrol shifts throughout the night, reporting suspicious activity, and staying vigilant to protect those walking through the neighborhood.

Read on about GovPilot’s New Digital Special Needs Module here. 

  • Support Police and First Responders 

Police officers and first responders need the support of the local government in many ways that can make or break the success and impact of these institutions. Residents feel secure when they know there are officials nearby that can help them in case of an emergency; fostering this culture of security for residents requires funding and resource allotment for police and other first responders. 

Learn How to Form a Community Emergency Response Team here. 

  • Youth Crime Intervention In Schools

A major factor of ensuring safe streets is the prevention of crime before it occurs. One of the most effective ways to deter future criminals is to provide resources and initiatives for crime prevention in schools. Reaching out to young members of your community and instilling proper values has been proven to decrease the future rates of crime and increase the awareness of residents to keep themselves safe. 

Read GovPilot’s article on 10 Local Health Initiatives For Local Governments here. 

Step By Step Guide To Becoming A Walkable City

1. Assess The Safety of Your Municipality

To assess the safety of your streets, and municipality as a whole ask yourself, “Are residents safe to walk about at night?”

This basic question will provide you with insight into what problems your specific municipality is facing in relation to infrastructure development, crime prevention, and community safety. It will be advantageous for local governments to turn to safety and security professionals and collaborate with city planners to figure out which concerns keep your residents off the streets, and address those concerns as soon as possible. 

Look into our Law Enforcement Software!

 2. Assess Current Outdoor Infrastructure 

Your local government should conduct regular and robust inspections for all outdoor public infrastructure to ensure it is up to date, meets safety codes, and is effective at safeguarding residents. Keeping up to date with inspection workflows might seem like a daunting task, but is vital to ensure that no safety hazards or concerns go unnoticed by the local government. 

Learn How to Improve Local Public Transportation here.  

3. Assess Future City Planning To Improve Walkability

City planners are the unsung heroes of community culture and walkability. Walking/ biking lanes, appropriately placed traffic signs/lights, and bike rental programs such as CitiBike or Lime can all be integrated into your city planning to capitalize on the willingness of residents to travel without cars. 

It is not difficult to integrate these solutions into your community to make it easier for residents to get around town, it simply requires thoughtful assessments and planning from the appropriate departments and funding. Encourage your city planners to find issues within current city plans such as congested intersections and find future solutions for these issues so they can be amended. 

Learn about How to Report Concerns & Issues to Your Local Government with us here. 

4. Encourage Local Businesses To Open In Your Area

When local businesses pop up throughout your municipality, more options are provided for citizens to walk to locally for shopping, essential services or leisure activities. It is vital that local governments incentivise local businesses to open in various neighborhoods throughout the city, to be sure that all residents have equal access and distance between these businesses. 

What Following These Steps Can Help You Achieve

Follow this guide and experience happier residents and provide them with more opportunities for upward mobility, career growth, and further education.

  • Happier Residents 

When residents aren’t dependent on motor vehicles, insurance or car payments, gas expenses and even unreliable public transit schedules, they are generally happier. Residents can save money and become healthier by walking, especially in the warm months 

  • Upward Mobility Opportunities For Residents 

Easier transportation via walking or biking opens up various opportunities for residents in your area to find new jobs, access higher education buildings and even volunteerism. When citizens are not limited to traveling with cars on main roads, their ability to achieve better educational and career opportunities will likely help them save money on gas and expenses while achieving higher paying salaries. 

Learn everything about Upward Mobility Strategies here in our article. 

Become A 15-Minute City This Year!

Safety and accessibility for constituents will always be a top priority for local government officials. Local government officials need to put efforts towards becoming a more walkable city, and take inspiration from other municipalities that have achieved 15 minute city status. Walkable cities create more opportunity accessibility for all constituents, and GovPilot can help you streamline operations and city planning to achieve these positive outcomes. Book a consultation with GovPilot to learn more

15-Minute City FAQs

  • What is a fifteen minute city? 

A fifteen minute city is a city with ease of walkability for citizens where they can navigate on foot, without needing cars to access public buildings, doctors offices, grocery stores and shopping centers. 

  • Why are safe streets important for residents? 

Safe streets are the determining factor to whether constituents feel safe, happy, and mentally well. It is vital that your street and neighborhoods are safe so residents can get outside, experience their community and engage with activities or local businesses. 

Read On: 

Tags: Constituent Engagement, Constituent Experience, Civic Engagement