Who pays? Does it matter?

In a recent post by our friends at StrongTowns, Kevin Posey compares sidewalk funding mechanisms in various communities against their WalkScores.

Using this tool, let’s check a few cities to see how high their walk scores are under the following two conditions:

  1. The city spreads the cost of building and maintaining sidewalks among all taxpayers, as with streets and highways via taxation.
  2. The city puts the onus of paying for sidewalk maintenance and construction on the adjacent property owners.

The possible walk score range is 0-100. Higher scores reflect better walkability.

Of course it matters, but not in the way this article posits. Comparing walk scores against sidewalk funding sounds like a false equivalency. Your community can be extremely walkable and have horrible sidewalks providing you still live within a quarter mile of what you need to access. The article’s summation points that out. Places built when people walked have high walk scores. Well, who doesn’t know that?

Scoring high: New York City. Scoring low: Atlanta, Georgia.

What becomes more important is the quality of what was built, and how it is ultimately maintained. Presumably, if you moved to a place without sidewalks, you did so willingly and understood that you not only needed your car to get everywhere, but that was your preference all along. If you suddenly become a walkable advocate, of course you’re going to prefer that someone else pay for it.

Incidentally, our Walk Score is 58, right in between NYC and Atlanta, and we live within a tee-shot from the train station.

Read more here.

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