While Dallas being labeled one of the country’s most un-walkable cities has garnered a lot of attention, it doesn’t seem to surprise most living here or who are familiar with the DFW area. According to a recent report from The Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University School of Business and SmartGrowth America, evidence shows that walkable urban development will be a major contributor to economic growth in the 21st century, as long as cities have the appropriate infrastructure, zoning, and financing mechanisms to support this kind of urbanism movement.
In the mid-to-late 20th century, drivable sub-urbanism was the “driving” force of real estate development in the United States, but as numerous studies have shown, there seems to be a shift in our culture, as more and more people are choosing to live in downtown areas that allow them to walk to work, school, and everyday destinations like restaurants, grocery stores, retail outlets, and entertainment venues.
Unfortunately, Dallas was ranked the 25th out of the 30 cities examined for walkability in the GWU report, but as demonstrated in Uptown Dallas, it looks like we’re heading in the right direction in order to catch up to other highly walkable metropolises like Washington DC, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. Hundreds of new apartments and condos in Uptown are in the development stages, and several other areas like Deep Ellum, downtown Plano, and downtown Fort Worth are also increasing the density of downtown development, growth, and population.
One significant problem downtown Dallas is facing, however, is the main city center was built for cars and motorized transportation—not walkability. Even side streets around Dallas have multiple lanes running in each direction, effectively eliminating the need or want for sidewalk cafés, outdoor patios, quaint storefronts, and wide sidewalks—all factors that go into creating a thriving walkable neighborhood.
For those already calling DFW home, it’s hard to argue Dallas and many of its suburbs were developed based on a car-culture. But in a time when fuel costs keep rising and the economic status of our country as a whole continues to be uncertain, it’s never a bad idea to examine ways to improve our city’s sustainability, even if it means altering the way we’ve done things for the past 50+ years. I think we can all agree it’s been exciting reading about the new projects that seem to be popping up on every corner in Uptown, so maybe it’s time we follow this new age development trend in other parts of downtown Dallas to create a better, more walkable experience for both visitors to Dallas and full-time residents alike!