Is That Walking Distance?

What is Walkability?

A walkable downtown provides economic stimulus, attracts tourism, provides additional amenities for residents, promotes public health and public safety, and contributes to the environmental sustainability of the city.

The Challenge

On foot, one passes easily from the Railyard to the Guadalupe District, past the Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe or perhaps the Capital District, cross the Santa Fe River, and enters the narrow streets before emerging into the Plaza itself. In most cities, it would be considered and modest and easy walk.

Yet to many, the Railyard and Plaza feel like different and distant areas. Most think immediately about driving from oe to the other, even though it actually may take longer than walking by he time they figure out where to park. For visitors, the walk between the Plaza and Railyard can be disorienting. One recent young visitor described her experience: "It was beautiful, it was charming. I loved it. But I felt lost and confused the whole time.

  • Walkability is a driver of economic development.
  • Walkability promotes public safety.
  • Walkability supports tourism.
  • Walkability is an amenity for residents.
  • Walkability drives beauty.
  • Walkability is a feature of an environmentally sustainable city.

The Project: Walk [Santa Fe]

October 31 - November 30, 2013

WALK [Santa Fe] was a month long city prototyping project demonstrating simple, affordable, and practical solutions to increase walkability in Santa Fe. The goal of WALK [Santa Fe] was for Santa Fe residents, business owners, and visitors to experience the impact that clear signage and designated pathways can make for a more vibrant and connected downtown, and begin a discussion with city leaders to consider new wayfinding solutions for downtown Santa Fe.

The project featured a clearly defined path, printed maps, and temporary street signs pointing the way to museums, galleries, shops, restaurants, and parks. Each sign had an embedded QR code with specific directions to get to each location through Google Maps technology.

Partnering with other non-profit organizations, CrSF hosted walking and biking events for an entire month. “WALK [Santa Fe] Ambassadors” were on the streets to answer pedestrians’ questions, discuss the project, and demonstrate how to use the QR codes.

This project was in coordination with the national initiative WALK [Your City]. WALK [Santa Fe] had 81 program partners making WALK [Santa Fe] the largest WALK [Your City] initiative project to date, proof of Santa Fe’s commitment to becoming a more walkable and vibrant community.

Walkability directly impacts they vibrancy, energy, health, and prosperity of communities. As urban planner Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, describes, “The walkable city is not just a nice, idealistic notion. Rather, it is a simple, practical-minded solution to a host of complex problems we face as a society.”