Life without a vehicle in a car-centric city like Edmonton poses its fair share of challenges, but as YEG continues to expand with each new suburban development, there are those for whom the added commute simply doesn’t appeal. This comes as no surprise, given that millennials across North America are increasingly shunning vehicle ownership and urban sprawl in favour of living as locally as possible — meaning easy access to parks, shops, restaurants and other amenities, as well as shorter commutes to work and school. For Edmontonians looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint or cut their cost of living, going car-free is increasingly becoming a viable lifestyle choice.
Whether you want to transition from multi-vehicle ownership to a single-car household or do away with the gas guzzler all together, there are plenty of resources available to make living car-free in YEG easier. In the first instalment of our Car-Free in YEG series, we’ll focus on finding walkable neighbourhoods that support life without four wheels.
What is a walkable neighbourhood?
Walkability — the measure of how friendly an area is to foot traffic — is an integral concept in sustainable urban design that yields social, ecological and economic benefits. Walkable communities are designed to encourage pedestrian use by maximizing elements of walkability such as footpaths, streetscaping, buffering between pedestrians and traffic, and access to shops and public transit. Cities like New York, San Francisco and Boston are paragons of walkability that offer models for ultra-local urban living on foot.
Just how walkable is Edmonton?
According to Walk Score, Edmonton has a long way to go when it comes to walkability: scored out of 100, our fair city has a Walk Score of 51 and a Transit Score of 44 (ouch!). Despite YEG’s lacklustre reputation as the seventh most walkable large city in Canada, we’ve actually got some stellar walkable neighbourhoods to be proud of, including downtown, Garneau, Rossdale, U of A and Strathcona, to name a few.
Check out Walk Score’s ranking of Edmonton neighbourhoods to find the top YEG neighbourhoods to live in without a car.
How do I find the right walkable neighbourhood for me?
For renters, Walk Score will help you identify the most pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods in the city, and includes rental listings on their website too. For buyers, real-estate websites like Liv Real Estate, YEGisHome and Remax do a great job of characterizing Edmonton’s communities so you get a feel for the neighbourhoods you might want to live in.
Remax allows you to narrow your real estate search criteria by Walk and Transit Score. YEGisHome includes a Community Score that ranks neighbourhoods on five different levels. Neighbourhoods with a strong walkability factor will have high family, recreation and lifestyle scores, reflecting their proximity to schools, playgrounds, sports and rec areas, as well as shopping and entertainment.
Another useful tool is Trevor Prentice’s newly created ‘Hood Rank, an interactive tool that compiles a wide range of data on all YEG neighbourhoods to enable users to identify those that best suit their priorities, from access to the river valley to grocery stores.
Once you’ve found a ‘hood to call home, check out the City of Edmonton’s Community Walking Maps, a collection of walking guides intended to foster more active, engaged neighbourhoods. For more local walking resources, check out the City’s information on Walk Edmonton.