The 20-minute neighborhood is one where a person can access all their daily needs within a 20 minute walk, bike, or transit ride. Neighborhoods that fit this model are healthier by encouraging people to take alternative transit methods that are less sedentary and have lower carbon emissions. Those who commute by bike, for example, have significantly better health outcomes than those who drive to work. They are also more economically resilient and induce healthier social environments for residents and visitors.

The city has been making strides to increase walkability, but only a very small portion of the population walks to work, or doesn’t take a car in any form. We are falling behind other cities in terms of downtown post-covid foot traffic recovery, and this is the area in Louisville with the most pedestrian activity.

As a merged city-county government, Louisville has a substantial geographic footprint and has a wide range of walkable and non-walkable environments and neighborhoods. Historically the most walkable urban forms would be found in the traditional urban core, which generally is within the first ring of Interstate 264. These same areas though don't have access to the full suite of amenities that make for a walkable area, though, particularly when it comes to things like grocery stores. The more suburban neighborhoods may have access to these amenities, but they are more spread out, can be harder to get to while feeling safe due to overly-wide roads, lack quality bicycle infrastructure, and lack comprehensive public transit access.

A number of issues that make the city less walkable are being addressed in Mayor Greenberg’s recently released draft of the economic development strategic plan. There is a lot in the document, but some items of note include $100 million for downtown streetscape improvements, a pedestrian bridge between Portland and the Falls of the Ohio, and trying to model after other place-making projects such as the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. This is on top of other walkable development plans such as Broadway all the Way and the 9th Street redesign.

Within and adjacent to downtown, there are numerous housing developments that will hopefully help bring the "rooftops" that will attract the amenities that will increase walkability. Some of these include Martin on Main in NuLu (Built), The Prestonian in Phoenix Hill (under construction), The Grey on Ali in the Central Business District (proposed), and many more. The future is bright for walkability in Louisville.

Due to the historic growth patterns throughout Louisville that was driven by the once extensive streetcar system, there are many commerical nodes that provide or have the potential to be much more walkable. Projects like the streetscape improvements along Bardstown Road are helping to strengthen the pedestrian environment, putting more emphasis on people and less on easy vehicular movement.

The dashboard below creates a walkability score based on access to amenities and certain urban form features. Amenities include banks, cafes, grocery stores, libraries, schools, pharmacies, daycares, presence of low-headway TARC stops, healthcare, and parks. Urban form features include expressways, stroads, and bike lanes (not including sharrows). There is some nitty-gritty on the data, some items may not be included based off more subjective factors (i.e. an expressway was not included because it only cut off a couple blocks from the rest of the neighborhood). The score is also weighted relative to other neighborhoods in the city, so a high score neighborhood in Louisville may not necessarily be high scored if it were comparing to areas in a city like Chicago or New York.

The dashboard for the project can be accessed below, or here if you are on a mobile device.