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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

In an attempt to fight back the hustle of modern urban life imposed on us by car-centric urbanization, the concept of walkable cities is experiencing a resurgence, and for good reason. While it is undeniably convenient to be able to stroll from point A to point B, walkable cities promise way more than a nice walk: they hold the hope of revitalizing our communities and strengthening the social fabric that was lost in the middle of urbanization. Here are the top five reasons why we should embrace the return to walkable cities and communities, and their profound impact on social interaction and community building.

  1. Reconnecting with Our Neighbors: In the era of suburban car-centric lifestyles, many of us have become disconnected from our neighbors and other people who live within our community because it becomes hard to ever cross paths or actually see each other’s faces, losing touch of what “neighborhood” really means. Walkable cities offer an antidote to this isolation by focusing on creating environments where people naturally encounter one another; fostering a sense of trust and familiarity through exposure and repetition. As we walk along pedestrian-friendly streets, or relax in welcoming public spaces, we have countless opportunities to start conversations, exchange greetings, and forge meaningful connections with those who share our neighborhood with time.
  2. Fostering a Sense of Belonging: Walkable cities cultivate a strong sense of belonging among residents. When streets are designed with pedestrians as a priority, streets and sidewalks become vibrant public spaces where people gather, meet, and experience together. These spaces become places that we are drawn to and want to spend time in, offering us comfortable spaces to develop ourselves outside of home or work (bringing back third-spaces). Whether it’s attending a street festival, enjoying coffee at a sidewalk café, or simply taking a stroll, these shared experiences help foster a sense of community and belonging outside of our habitual spaces (home and work) that is essential for our well-being.
  3. Promoting Healthier Lifestyles: One of the most significant benefits of walkable cities is the promotion of healthier lifestyles. By leaning away from car-centric lifestyles, walking and cycling become the primary modes of transportation; cities reduce reliance on cars and promote physical activity to get from one place to another. Not only does this lead to improved physical health and well-being by organically inducing physical activity into our lifestyles, but it also creates opportunities for friendly encounters and social interactions as people move through the urban landscape.
  4. Supporting Local Businesses: Walkable neighborhoods are often characterized by a diverse array of local businesses, from little cafes to funky boutiques. By prioritizing pedestrian access and creating inviting streetscapes, cities can help these small and locally owned businesses thrive. As residents may walk or bike to local establishments for their daily needs, they not only support the local economy, but also foster connections with these business owners and fellow patrons, enriching the fabric of the community and creating a strong neighborhood network.
  5. Enhancing Civic Engagement: Finally, walkable cities facilitate civic engagement and community involvement, making everyone more involved with the decisions that have to be made for the wellbeing and future of the neighborhood. When neighborhoods are designed to be walkable, residents have easier access and are encouraged to attend public meetings, community events, and local institutions. This accessibility encourages residents to take a more active role in shaping the future of their communities, creating a sense of engagement and collective responsibility.

In conclusion, bringing walkable cities back offers promising hope for the future of a more familiar, intertwined style of urban living. By prioritizing social interaction and community building within neighborhoods, these cities have the power to reconnect us with our neighbors, foster a sense of belonging, and create healthier, more vibrant communities for generations to come. It is not about changing what we do; go to work, find new hobbies, or hanging out with friends, it is about changing the way we do these things!

Junior pursuing a Marketing major and a Hospitality minor at FIU!