Literally every place I’ve ever lived, I’ve looked up the walk score on it before I even considered moving there. In fact, where I live right now — in Fort Worth, about a mile or so from TCU, is probably the least-walkable place I’ve ever lived, and that was partially because I had all of three weeks from job offer to actually moving. My wife and I picked our place in Minneapolis almost solely because of its walkability score (which was a lot closer to New York City on the 1-100 scale than you’d assume Minneapolis would be), although that had some negative repercussions here and there too. In short, I love and cherish walkability. I don’t think I’m alone.
Time to follow the ol’ bouncing ball:
- We know that millennials, as a poorly-defined generational construct, tend to want walkability from their cities.
- We also know that the need/desire for walkability is soon to have a huge impact on the real estate market. (And perhaps soccer fandom.)
- Walkable areas can also apparently “blunt cognitive decline.”
- Overall, more walking is good for your health.
- Walkability is also more closely linked with the arts and social movement organizations than other factors, such as density and housing age diversity.
There’s long been this belief/concern/idea/whatever you want to call it that when the Baby Boomers age out of the workforce, things could fall to shit as you have these entitled children of the Boomers, people that want experiences but lack management leadership, coming into the workforce. That might be true.
The other way to look at it is that we’re on the verge of a civic renaissance where communities start to mean more than they do now — remember, one of the generic arguments around the rise of technology has always been the fraying of communities — and people are healthier because they (a) walk more and (b) develop good relationships in their neighborhoods.
The ties between the millennial generation and health are interesting. For example, some studies think that 1 in every 3 children being born now will live to 100. Some others say 1 in 3 will have diabetes by 2050. (If 1 happens in each case, what happens to that mythical third person?) Apparently millennials do eat less fast food, and they could change the entire context of a grocery store based on their needs.
I think it’s probably impossible to predict whether one generation will be healthier, all told, than the previous one — especially since health is mostly an individual/family issue (i.e. how it affects your loved ones; people, at the general level, aren’t really looking for health trends across generations unless that’s their actual job).
So the future of the millennial generation could really come on the back of walkability — or cities, especially cities with some type of social mobility, designing around grids that are easy for people to navigate A — > B on foot. Dublin, OH — 17 miles from Columbus — started dropping money towards these ends, and they became semi-famous in the urban development world.
Think about it: the housing choices of millennials could drive us to a healthier, more connected, potentially-smarter group of people as those with the main buying power responsibilities and jobs. Or I could be totally f’n wrong, which happens all the time.