Why Doesn’t Connecticut Have Many Walkable Communities?
I moved to Downton Danbury to be in the center of the action, to be around people and live in a walkable community. This is very important to me as someone who grew up in Brewster, NY where you can't walk to anything.
So, when I saw this topic appeared on the CT Reddit page, I wanted to see what others had to say. A user named DonutsNCoffeee wrote the following: "Why doesn't Connecticut have many walkable suburbs?" They followed it up with this:
"I’m currently house hunting throughout the state and have noticed that there aren’t many walkable suburbs. I’m not talking about walking to restaurants and cafes but suburbs where you can go on a nice stroll to a park using sidewalks.
I was recently visiting friends in the suburbs of Atlanta and Charlotte and it was great that we could go on evening walks with the dog to a park and not have to walk down busy streets or in the middle of the road.
It’s a shame that we don’t really have this in CT. I have family who live in Newington who have a sidewalk on their street but it ends after 200 feet and goes nowhere! I think towns like Wethersfield and Newington would be great places if they had a network of sidewalks that you could use."
The CT Reddit folks responded, and these are some of the comments below:
"I see this is your first time observing the harsh realities of twentieth century community planning."
"I live in Stratford and the entire town has sidewalks and is very walkable. We live about a 2 miles north of the downtown and it's no problem to walk to restaurants or the train station. On school days you'll see most of the kids walking to school. A lot of Milford is the same way, so you just have to find the right town that invested in walkability. That said I completely agree CT really needs to enhance walkability overall. The cities are trying and getting a lot better but the vast majority of towns you literally can't navigate without a car. It’s a huge quality of life benefit. We just got back walking from the local playground about a half mile from my house with my 2 year old son. There are a lot of towns where that short distance would have to be via car. It’s silly and a burden for those who don’t have or can’t afford cars."
"I grew up in Lordship and still visit frequently. It's true there are a lot of streets without sidewalks, but traffic is very light. It's still a very walkable area even without actual sidewalks. Used to walk and bike around the whole area as a kid. Walked to and from school, the seawall, and the old convenience store that used to be called The Penguin. There are always people walking around Lordship."
"Get a golf cart."
"So I'm confused with this whole discussion, every older neighborhood in Connecticut or any place else in New England or in the northeast or the Midwest has older neighborhoods with sidewalks and lovely older houses to look at? Am I missing something. You can park the car and walk around and look at all the pretty stuff but if you have to go shopping you still have to get into the car or if you have to go to the doctor you have to go to the car or school or call any other place. So is walkable just simply mean you can go look at the pretty houses?"
"I walk to exercise. Some walk their dogs, and would rather not do it in the road. I can walk about 15 min to a lot of places (such as my old high school, Walgreens, restaurants, ShopRite, dental office). I can, but I don't."
"The point is to be able to walk to the things you need (schools, train stations, shops, etc) and the things you want to do (restaurants, "pretty houses", etc). that's the foundation of a walkable town/neighborhood, not for there to just be one section of town with "lovely older houses to look at" that's walkable. op is looking for towns that you can walk around and accomplish things- without needing a car."
"I recently moved from Stratford to Shelton and this is something I really notice/miss. My old neighborhood was very walkable and we used to take our dogs for a walk every day. Can't really walk my current neighborhood due to the lack of sidewalks/narrow streets."
"Because like everywhere in the United States and Canada we have car dependent infrastructure. This didn't happen naturally, it was designed that way by the automotive industry starting way back in the 1920s. But it didn't really take off until the 1950s after WW2. That's a brief explanation of it though, it is a very nuanced and complicated situation with a lot of other factors. I would suggest checking out the book Strong Towns which goes into a lot of detail about the subject and ways to change it. There are also some great YouTube channels like NotJustBikes and City Beautiful."
Early-Emphasis - 2417:
"A lot of cities have reinvented themselves lately and now have "self-sustaining" walkable neighborhoods. Most that I've been to outside of CT (I haven't spent much time in the rest of New England) at least have parks that you can walk to."
"I also suggest some CT specific groups that are focused on zoning, as zoning is the primary way that makes walkable suburbs illegal. Desegregate CT is the best state group for this subject. I find their name to be a bit misleading as they are mostly focused on stopping towns and cities to stop making multifamily housing illegal and encouraging more mixed use zoning (allowing low impact commercial shops, like small cafes and small shops, in residential areas)."
I agree with D-Squiz, this is a huge quality of life issue. Living is a walkable community is the only reason I moved to downtown Danbury. Well, the joke was on me because it's a ghost town. Everyday/night I take long walks around the city and there are as few people as you can imagine, for a small city.
Most people who are walking, are doing it because they don't have a car. They are not going to work because there aren't many jobs down here. They are walking to and from the grocery store, or headed to the bus stop. Having sidewalks is step 1, step 2 is make sure people have somewhere to go,