Walkability on Vancouver Island: The implications for small towns and rural communities
Brown, Colin Gordon
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Most studies of walkability focus on large urban centres. This paper works to fill the gap in the study of walkability principles and applies them to small towns, and rural communities. Drawing from smart growth and new urbanist ideas, walkability is affected by density, destinations, distance, and design (the 4Ds); each of which affects people’s choice to walk. Rural communities and small towns generally lack one of more of the 4 Ds, creating an inability to fully achieve the status of walkable communities as would be found in more urban places. In addition, rural communities are often part of a collection of communities that make up a region of small places. Each has its unique character and influences that guide development in the node. A focus on creating walkability in these nodal areas makes sense for small communities, and will enable people to park once and use the pedestrian infrastructure to reach multiple destinations within each node. Through an extensive literature review and a series of site visits, the findings are that walkability is a relevant field of study for small communities despite the implied weaknesses in density and distance.