Climate Change, Urban Living and Blog Action Day

At Downtown Suites we are participating in Blog Action Day Oct 15 2009, focused on Climate Change. In all our listings we include the walkscore for each suite, indicating the walkability of the area where our suites are located – and by walkability we don’t mean simply recreational walking, but walking for the stuff of life – grocery shopping, doctor’s offices, hardware stores, and so on.

We fully support cycling as main transportation, and are happy to see the Vancouver Cycle Route planner that is now available through UBC, and look forward to the “Google Maps Bike There” cycle planning rumoured to be coming on all Google Maps (or so they indicated just recently). We make sure the Vancouver cycle route planners are included in each of our listings, to encourage everyone to leave the car behind and cycle wherever possible. In this beautiful city of Vancouver we can cycle nearly year-round.

There are many new buildings in Vancouver which are LEED certified and considered “green buildings”, something we fully support and encourage, while in older buildings we encourage energy-saving approaches for maintenance and upkeep, recommending energy efficiency.

We’re excited to be working with bloggers worldwide, to help make Blog Action Day 2009 the largest ever social change event on the web.

Walkability: Measuring Urban Quality of Life

As a service to our clients, we’ve been adding a terrific tool called Walkscore to all our rental listings, for both the unfurnished suites at Downtown Suites, and also the furnished suites at Downtown Accommodations. When you check any of our listings, you’ll not only find a google map of the area, there is also a separate Walkscore map, rating the walkability at the location.

Because of our central downtown locations, our suites mostly rank in the  90–100 range, called  Walkers’ Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car. A few are in the  70–89 range, or  Very Walkable: It’s possible to get by without owning a car.

And why does walking matter? the folks at Walkscore put it this way:

Why Walking Matters

Walkable neighborhoods offer surprising benefits to our health, the environment, and our communities.

Better health: A study in Washington State found that the average resident of a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood weighs 7 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.1 Residents of walkable neighborhoods drive less and suffer fewer car accidents, a leading cause of death between the ages of 15–45.

Reduction in greenhouse gas: Cars are a leading cause of global warming. Your feet are zero-pollution transportation machines.

More transportation options: Compact neighborhoods tend to have higher population density, which leads to more public transportation options and bicycle infrastructure. Not only is taking the bus cheaper than driving, but riding a bus is ten times safer than driving a car!

Increased social capital: Walking increases social capital by promoting face-to-face interaction with your neighbors. Studies have shown that for every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10%.3

Stronger local businesses: Dense, walkable neighborhoods provide local businesses with the foot traffic they need to thrive. It’s easier for pedestrians to shop at many stores on one trip, since they don’t need to drive between destinations.

Vancouver is a beautiful, very walkable city. But the Walkscore isn’t about the seawall, beaches, mountain views, architecture or parks – the places to go and the things to see. It’s about getting around in daily life – going to work, buying groceries, finding a hardware store.

We always support green initiatives, and walking is definitely the simplest and most direct!