Walking Programs That Get You and Your Neighbors to Use Foot Power

Fun walking programs get your neighbors walking to shops, restaurants, schools, and workplaces.

In a "walking school bus," kids walk together with one adult as a chaperone, or "driver." Image: PedBikeimages.org/Dan Burden

Being walkably close to shops, restaurants, and offices can make your home worth more, but if you want the neighbors to actually walk to all those places, you need fun walking programs that entice everyone to park their cars, lace up their Reeboks, and get out to enjoy the neighborhood’s amenities.

How much is that walkability worth?

Having shopping and social destinations located walkably close to your neighborhood adds somewhere between $4,000 to $34,000 to home values, according to “Walking the Walk,” a study published by CEOs for Cities, a umbrella organization for civic, business, academic, and philanthropic leaders working to improve cities. The biggest home price bumps occurred in large urban areas like Chicago and San Francisco and the smallest in less populated cities like Tucson, Ariz., and Fresno, Calif.

To encourage everyone to take advantage of your neighborhood’s walkability try these three tips.

1. Walk to school.

Yes, the kids will groan. Ignore it. Focus on the good karma you earn when you replace car exhaust (parents driving kids to school generates 20% of morning car traffic) with foot power. If 100 kids from the same school walk (or bike) every day for a year, it’ll keep 35,000 pounds of pollutants out of your air.

Walking programs to get you started:

  • Create a “walking school bus.” The kids walk together in one group with parents as chaperones. Take turns being the “driver” with your neighbors.
  • If an everyday commitment is too much, in only one week, you can plan and run a one-day walk-to-school event (or so the walk-to-school advocates say).
  • Star in show and tell. Coordinate with the PTA at your child’s school to share the science that shows the health benefits to children of walking.

2. Walk to work.

Walk-to-work programs, like the American Heart Association’s Fit Friendly Companies, abound, and the perks that bosses offer are almost limitless. How about getting the cost of a parking space in cold hard cash if you leave the car at home? Talk to your firm’s human resources professional about getting a walking program started at your workplace.

Get more ideas for ways to get your co-workers walking from the PBS series “Get Walking.”

3. Walk anywhere.

Some walking programs strive to make walking fun no matter where you’re headed. Get more help on motivating the neighbors to get walking from these experts:

  • Walk Arlington, an initiative of Arlington County, Va., holds scavenger hunts and sponsors senior adult walking clubs.
  • American Walks, an umbrella organization for groups that promote walking.