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Take a hike!

Dan Farber, professor of law | November 19, 2012

Walking is a sufficiently novel idea to be the subject of newspaper stories — as if our ancestors hadn’t been doing it since long before Homo sapiens evolved.  Anyway, walking is the hot new thing in D.C., according to the Washington Post:

“Walkable” is a feature sparking sales and energizing future development and redevelopment, according to a recent report by a George Washington University professor that calls the Washington area a national model for compact urban areas where residents can live and work without cars.

“The strongest housing market is in walkable urban areas,” says Christopher B. Leinberger, author of the report, “DC: The WalkUP Wake-Up Call.” “That’s where the demand is.”

walking figures through evolution


Joking aside, this is good news. Walking is not only healthy, but getting people out of cars has obvious environmental benefits.  California has been in the forefront of the move toward walkable communities, such as downtown Berkeley and Los Angeles, neighborhoods in San Francisco, Pasadena, and San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.  SB 375 is an important step in the effort to use urban planning to get people out of cars and using public transit and what my father-in-law used to call “shanks pony.”(This paper has much  more to say about this and related matters.)

If we can create more opportunities for people to get out of cars, it will be good for their health, the environment, and even their peace of mind– studies show that commuting is one of the most disliked activities. A trifecta, in other words.

Maybe those Australopithecus ancestors of ours were onto something when they decided it was easier to get around on two feet.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.