There are a number of standards that can be used to judge the quality of life in a community: The quality of the local schools, the area’s tax burden, crime statistics and more.
Increasingly, potential residents — and businesses — are looking at still another: “Walkability.”
Walkability represents the measure of how friendly a given area is to walking and pedestrian traffic. And there’s a group of locals looking to improve Kerrville’s.
Walkability was once an important part of neighborhood and urban design. But improvements to manufacturing methods and the post-World War II economic boom made automobiles increasingly affordable. Accordingly, urban design followed suit.
But newfound interest in reducing carbon emissions, health benefits — particularly as America’s Baby Boomers continue to age — and sustainable design have put the focus back on pedestrian-friendly accommodations.
There’s also an economic benefit: Multiple studies have shown that increased walkability can help put shoppers in local stores and hungry diners in local restaurants.
According to Strong Towns, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, data shows that “people-oriented streets” create a direct economic benefit for business owners in the area.
Combined, those factors make the Kerrville Urban Trail System, or KUTS for short, an attractive plan.
The group behind KUTS, which is made up of 35 members — including business owners as well as representatives from local foundations, the city of Kerrville and the Kerrville Public Utility Board — is looking to create a walking trail that would start on Clay Street South and will be anchored by the Depot Square at Schreiner Street and the Kerrville Farmers Market on Water Street.
Plans include public art displays, benches, trees and landscaping, historic signage, wayfinding, lighting and traffic calming, a paved trail and more.
It’s a lovely concept — and even if the group behind it only manages to see parts of the plan fully realized, it’s needed.
According to WalkScore.com, a site that assigns a numeric value to walkability, Kerrville has an average walk score of 33. That’s on the low end of average for Texas cities — but the Lone Star State as a whole tends to rank poorly for walkability.
KUTS could have long-term health and economic benefits and, much like the Kerrville River Trail, is a project that will help improve mobility for our community.
And KUTS has so far been funded solely by donations. But the project has a long way to go and, with plans in place and a growing vision, the team behind it is going to need support.
For more information, including how you can help support this worthwhile project, go to