Arlington’s Walkable Neighborhoods Create a Sense of Place

alli henry, walkarlington program manager
Alli Henry Tweet Us @GenY4Transit@GenY4Transit November 16, 2016
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Alli Henry is the Program Manager for WalkArlington. As an engaged Arlington resident, she spends her days advocating for creating walkable, livable and equitable neighborhoods.

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WALK TAKEAWAY:

Walkable neighborhoods benefit every member of a community - from pedestrian to driver. See how walkability can save you money.

Every homeowner can recall the feeling of opening the door to their new home for the first time. That thrill came three years ago when we finally found our dream stacked townhouse in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood. I can still remember feeling like my heart was going to explode with happiness and pride knowing that our countless hours spent visiting open houses, and obsessively checking Redfin, had finally paid off – we were home!

After years of renting in South and North Arlington, we were finally putting down roots and committing to our Clarendon-Courthouse neighborhood. While growing up in Pennsylvania my family owned a real estate management company, so I understood the magnitude of responsibility and sacrifices we would have to make. To be frank, buying in Arlington was (and still is) terrifying due to the high cost of living and rising housing market. So how do we make it work? For starters, we’ve had to prioritize how we spend our money and modify our daily routines in order to afford life in Arlington.
walking in arlington neighborhood

Location over space

Fortunately for us, Arlington’s walkability and various transportation options have been a lifesaver that helps make life more affordable and enjoyable. By prioritizing location over space, we found a two bedroom home with a 94 Walk Score minutes from the Clarendon and Courthouse Metro stations, Capital Bikeshare stations, numerous bus routes and local shops.

Like many of our neighbors, we sold our second car after realizing it was simply easier to walk, bike or take transit (38B Metrobus is a game changer) to almost everywhere we needed to go. Embracing a “car-lite” lifestyle has saved us a significant amount of money (roughly $8,000+ per year) and now we rarely use our shared car during the week, instead reserving driving for adventures with our dog, or weekend trips visiting family in Fairfax County.

Walk friendly benefits

Recently named America’s “Most Walkable Suburb,” many Arlingtonians have also embraced the County’s transit-oriented planning and award winning Gold Level Walk Friendly culture. In fact, a recent study conducted by Arlington County Commuter Services, found that 48% of residents reported making non-work trips in Arlington by walking. The benefits of living in a walk-friendly community are endless (i.e. health, mobility, economic and environmental); however, for us walking creates a sense of place and attachment to our community that’s invaluable. Additionally, it has allowed us to connect with neighbors and discover hidden gems we otherwise likely would have overlooked. As fate would have it, I even met my best friend while waiting to cross the street (I’ll save that story for another blog)!

Even if you are not into walking, just remember there’s still a benefit of supporting Arlington County’s multimodal transportation services and infrastructure improvements (i.e. protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks, enhanced transit stops and active public spaces). Moving more people efficiently by transit, bike or foot ultimately results in less traffic on the roads for everyone. Creating walkable neighborhoods and offering better transportation options plays a major role in influencing Arlington’s overall affordability, mobility and quality of life!

Photo Credit:

Sam Kittner/Kittner.com

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