Guest Post by Alexis Zanghi
A quick glance at New Haven's hottest topics on SeeClickFix reveals that many of our users are
concerned with the walkability of New Haven's streets. From Orange and Bishop (where some worry
about their safety crossing the street), to Woodward Avenue (where there are no sidewalks), the
message is clear: citizens want a pedestrian-friendly city.
According to a recent post on the NRDC's Smarter Cities blog New Haven has the highest percentage of people who walk to work in New England, and the second highest percentage of people who use non motorized transportation. But the walkability of any city matters for many reasons. In 2009, CEOs for Cities released a report entitled "Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities." Among their findings? Property values increased with proximity to shops, restaurants, cafes, schools, libraries, and other amenities.
And in 2010, the University of New Hampshire expanded on this. Walkability doesn't just
increase physical capital like property values – it increases social capital, too. Social capital is essentially a measure of community. Your friend, your neighbor, the guy who pours your coffee: they're all social capital.
They're all part of your daily network, and they each do their part to enrich your daily life. They make you feel less isolated, they tell you about a job opening, and they'll watch your laptop while you're in the bathroom. And you'd do the same for them. Together, you're building social capital.
Social capital increases with walkability. You're more likely to bump into your neighbor at the store if it's right around the corner. You're more likely to stop at the same coffeeshop if it's on your walk to work. These daily interactions strengthen and build on social capital, and they're more likely to occur if citizens are pedestrians.
But proximity isn't the only factor here. Safety – and keeping our public resources in good repair – matters, too. That's where SeeClickFix comes in. By engaging and empowering citizens to report things like a broken streetlight on Congress Avenue, or cracked sidewalks on Edgewood Avenue, SeeClickFix doesn't just build social capital online – it keeps it growing offline, too!