Captain Obvious: Walking is nice and walkable urban spaces are in high demand.

Pedestrians cross a street in San Francisco
Above: Pedestrians rock the crosswalk. Note the awesome vintage MUNI bus in the background.

American Public Media’s Marketplace has a great segment about the rising popularity of walkable cities in the United States.

Link (Here’s a direct link to the Real Audio file.)

Some points come to mind:

  • Mr. Leininger’s claim that “Gen Xers” like walkable cities because they saw them on TV is rather goofy. Gen Xers like walkable cities because it’s a better way to live!
  • Walkable cities are extremely popular among young adults. Despite low, entry-level incomes they spend a huge chunk of their income on housing. As these youths grow older (and the cost of housing relative to their overall income decreases) will they continue to demand pedestrian friendly cities? How will this affect the value of suburban real estate? Will suburb growth finally end, or will it go further and suburban real estate will drop in value?
  • Leininger’s analysis of an urban housing supply problem is SPOT ON. Rent control and ‘affordable housing’ initiatives exacerbate this. I’m amazed that San Francisco, one of the most walkable cities according to this report, isn’t building any more median priced rental housing! Does this seem odd to anyone else?
  • Our transportation infrastructure is very slow to catch up to this trend. How long until we see transportation policy that mirrors this demand?
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