Manhattan, the business hub of New York City, is considered one of the most walkable districts in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Manhattan, the district with the highest GDP per capita, has one of the highest life expectancies in the USA. Similarly, if analyzed globally, some of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the world are the most popular cities as well like Venice, Paris, Texas, etc. The points that need to be analyzed are: Is there any relationship between walkability and economic growth? And, how do cities with higher walkability have better health standards and longer life expectancy? This article will discuss these in brief and will analyze how Zaitoon has planned housing communities to make them walkable.
The walkability of a city is defined by the criteria as either one needs a car or does not. It is the practice of making roads safe to cross and filled with amenities people need like restaurants, banks, salons, etc. Walkability is dynamic and can be improved with people-oriented town planning, which will benefit the local economy and make societies more equitable.
Source: YES Magazine
To begin with, cities with higher walkability have higher property value. According to a study conducted in 2009 in the USA, with each increment in walkability score, the residential property values go higher between $500 to $1000. Secondly, with higher walkability, there tends to be an increase in economic activities as window-shopping goes higher. According to a research, pedestrians spend 65 percent more at local retailers than drivers do. All of these facts prove how the commercial activity skyrockets if the cities are made walkable, as evident from growth of commercial activities in New Lahore City, developed by Zaitoon group. In addition to this, walkable cities pave the way for longer shelf life for their residents as well as for the planet and it is evident from the study that people who walk for more than eight minutes a day are 72% more likely to report better physical health and 33% better mental health. Zaitoon has dedicated lands for parks and other walkable public urban spaces in New Lahore City, Zaitoon City and Zaitoon Lifestyle to ensure its resident enjoy their best life possible.
Similarly, lesser automobile dependency paves the way for a greener and more sustainable environment. For instance, reduction in vehicle-mobility in Barcelona during pandemic of 2020 resulted into a significant drop of city temperature. By keeping this mind, Zaitoon has developed Pakistan’s first ever environment friendly housing project Zaitoon Lifestyle; where 55% of land is allocated to lifestyle amenities. Furthermore, the town is planned in such a way that most of the facilities and services are available at walking distance.
To conclude, not only a walkable community is likely to be healthier but it is also wealthier than vehicle-dependent communities. To achieve this, housing communities developers and city administrations should actively invest in walkable cities, whether through allocating funds for pedestrian walkways or zbuilding affordable housing close to downtowns, similar to Zaitoon, who has proved itself to be the pioneer in such regard in Pakistan. This will attract diverse populations and create more employment opportunities and make communities more equitable.