SRQ on Foot: Is a Walkable Life Possible in Sarasota?

Posted by Julian Yates on Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at 11:37am.

There is a growing movement of people who want to spend less time in cars. Some want to do their part to cut down on using fossil fuels. Some really like the live/work lifestyle, so they work from home to avoid a commute. And some just prefer the simplicity and enjoyment of being able to walk or bike wherever they need to go. If you're one of those people and you're looking for a home in Sarasota, I've got good and bad news for you.

The bad news is that Sarasota is pretty car-dependent. According to WalkScore.com, a service that scores walkability for any address, Sarasota gets a walkability score of 49 out of 100. That means you're going to need a car for most of your errands throughout the city. However, there are some pockets where car-free living is possible, and there are neighborhoods that, if they aren't totally walkable, they are more so than others.

For well over a decade, the City of Sarasota has been looking at ways in which to improve its walkability and bike-ability, and that vision is growing ever stronger. A recent walkability project on First Street has made downtown Sarasota look more vibrant already. With new parking garages in place, downtown Sarasota is poised to not only be a great place for new residents, but also a destination where people can leave the car and spend the day wandering through shops, eating great food, and taking in fantastic entertainment, all with their feet still on the ground.

As Jeff Speck wrote in his book Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, “all the fancy economic development strategies, such as developing a biomedical cluster, an aerospace cluster, or whatever the current economic development ‘flavor of the month’ might be, do not hold a candle to the power of a great walkable urban place.” 

Especially with the new housing developments in the Rosemary District, city planners are now looking at ways to make Fruitville Road more friendly to residents walking or biking across. In a recent interview on WSLR's Renaissance SRQ, Speck said that narrowing the automobile's lanes from their current 12 foot width (the same width as I-75's lanes) to 9 feet and adding a parallel parking buffer would greatly improve Fruitville's walkability. With the growth of eclectic businesses along Fruitville, and the upcoming Hampton Inn at its intersection with Cocoanut Avenue, making Fruitville more walkable could be a real boon for the city.

Of course downtown is walkable. Urban environments are supposed to be walkable -- just ask all the New York City residents who don't own cars. But what about the other neighborhoods in Sarasota? Which of these are the most friendly for a walking lifestyle?



Most of downtown's fringe communities, including Laurel Park, Gillespie Park, and the Rosemary District get pretty high walkability scores. Depending on where you're located, Alta Vista, Arlington Park, and Southside Village also have some pretty high scores. You can also find some good walkability scores through Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores, Bayou Oaks, Amaryllis Park, and Newtown.

Beyond that, it doesn't mean you can't walk in other Sarasota neighborhoods -- it just means that those walks will most likely be for pleasure or exercise, not necessarily to get anywhere. For instance, Longboat Key gets a walkability score of 6 of 100, but you can still get out for a lovely stroll. Most housing developments are designed with cars in mind, so in order to spend more time out of the car, you might want to stay close to downtown.

Julian is a happy Sarasota resident and your go-to guy for information about the perks of living in paradise. Are you looking for a home here? Get in touch with Julian directly via the Sarasota Property Finders Contact Page.

 


Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist

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