Walkability in Sammamish: A Key to Reducing Traffic Congestion

When people talk about steps that can be taken to enhance Sammamish, at some point the discussion will likely include mention of improving the community’s walkability.

At the Sammamish Chamber luncheon in April, then-Interim City Manager Larry Patterson included walkability in his discussion of the characteristics of successful cities in a talk titled “Home Towns are Home Grown.”

The approximately 45 people at the event were asked in an anonymous survey how they would rate Sammamish in terms of a “vital, vibrant and walkable downtown.” Sixty-seven percent said “poor” and 22 percent said “fair.”

Sammamish has some of the most attractive natural surroundings of any Eastside community. But outside of our immediate neighborhoods, it is not currently very walkable.=

The key to promoting greater walkability in a community includes open spaces, parks and other public gathering places within a safe walking distance of each other.

In a comparison of the 79 largest cities in the state, Sammamish was 75th with a Walk Score of 12. The average score of all cities in the state was 33. Bellevue had a score of 40 and Issaquah 30.

The scores are put together by Walk Score, which is owned by the real estate brokerage company Redfin. The methodology for developing the scores includes population density, road metrics and walking distances to various amenities including parks, businesses, transit stops and other features.

There are many benefits of living in a community that enables residents to easily walk to services, entertainment, shopping and other activities. A healthier lifestyle. Better for the environment. Less reliance on vehicles, saving money. Less stress. More opportunity to interact with and get to know neighbors and other residents.

Attributes that help make a community walkable include a center or main street, a mix of housing choices, and infrastructure designed to encourage walking, bicycling and transit.

A walkable community is an activated community. Sammamish has many fine attributes, but making it more walkable would certainly enhance the community for residents and businesses.