Dan Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute
, conducted a workshop in Avalon on Monday about the benefits of walkable communities. The goal of the workshop is to begin reinventing Lincoln Avenue, the Main Street of Avalon and Bellevue, as a “100% destination,” serving all people of all ages.
Burden cites benefits of walkable communities as being healthier, happier places, where business districts statistically perform better economically.
“Walkable and livable communities are really the foundation for the next economy” where jobs are now going to be centered, Burden says.
Burden also says young people are increasingly finding desirable places to live first and then looking for jobs, in contrast to previous generations.
After a day of walking in the community, Burden says Bellevue and Avalon, the two communities studied, have an incredible stock of houses and apartments, good street grids, and are situated near a great city.
The workshop provided multiple examples of communities that have transformed their streets from auto-centric and dangerous to welcoming environments with a real sense of place. Focus areas for improvement include transit, crossings, gateways, trees, creating place, and curb extensions.
Based on input from residents and others taking part, the workshop will produce a report on existing conditions, and will outline strategic action steps that can be taken to make Bellevue and Avalon into what Burden calls, “a real model for what other neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area can become.”
The event was fully sponsored by the AARP of Pennsylvania. AARP representative Kelly Altmire says a top priority of members is being able to age in place, and stay in their homes and communities.
Burden says when people are forced out of a neighborhood, for any reason, they tend not to live very long, or to not live very healthy.
“There’s an awareness that building livable, walkable places is not only good for the economy, it’s good for health, and good for everyone’s well-being,” Burden says.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Dan Burden; Kelly Altmire