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10 Minute Neighborhood Analysis


The City of Kirkland is engaging citizens in planning for Kirkland 2035 with a major update to the Comprehensive Plan.  A major part of that exercise is planning for significant growth in jobs and housing, balancing inevitable change with the community’s values, and ensuring that Kirkland remains a special place in 2035.  New tools are needed to help participants talk about the future.  The 10 Minute Neighborhood Analysis is intended to provide a tool to help the community talk about what it means to be livable, walkable, sustainable, connected, and transit-oriented.

The community has completed the following draft vision statement to serve as the cornerstone of the updated Comprehensive Plan:

Kirkland is one of the most livable cities in America. We are a vibrant, attractive, green and welcoming place to live, work and play. Civic engagement, innovation and diversity are highly valued. We are respectful, fair, and inclusive. We honor our rich heritage while embracing the future. Safe, walkable, bikeable and friendly neighborhoods are connected to each other and to thriving mixed use activity centers, schools, parks and our scenic waterfront. Convenient transit service provides a viable alternative to driving. Diverse and affordable housing is available throughout the city. Kirkland strives to be a model, sustainable city that values preserving and enhancing our natural environment for our enjoyment and future generations.

By measuring those attributes and identifying opportunities for and barriers to walkability, the tool allows the community to talk about how to create and enhance those attributes and remove barriers, which, in turn informs the discussion about Kirkland in 2035.

What is a 10 Minute Neighborhood?

10 minute neighborhood ConceptA 10 minute neighborhood is a community where residents can walk short distances from home to destinations that meet their daily needs.  These walkable communities are comprised of two important characteristics: 

  • Destinations – a walkable community needs places to walk to.  Destinations may include places that meet commercial needs, recreational needs, or transportation needs.
  • Accessibility – the community needs to be able to conveniently get to those destinations.

Ten minutes represents how much time it takes a typical pedestrian to comfortable walk ½ mile.  This distance was chosen to represent a reasonable distance that residents could choose to walk to obtain goods or services that meet their daily needs.  It also corresponds to the Puget Sound Regional Council definition of “Transit Community”, where proximity of transit service to housing and employment is measured.

This method of analyzing neighborhood walkability has been used successfully in other communities around the country.  Most notably, the City of Portland has used and continues to develop the methodology.  Portland has graciously shared their technical details to assist other communities in a similar evaluation .

It should be noted that, although the analysis reference is to walkability, the same principles of creating, sustaining, and enhancing places where people have convenient access applies to people using wheelchairs and other mobility aids.  Similarly, a more walkable neighborhood may also be considered a more bikeable neighborhood.

What is Regulatory and Policy Framework for Walkable Communities?

The Growth Management Act (GMA) encourages urban planning approaches that concentrate growth in urban areas to allow efficient provision of services, reduce sprawl, promote physical activity, and support transportation choices.  Vision 2040 is the regional strategy for meeting GMA goals.  Vision 2040 sets an overarching goal of focusing growth in urban areas to create walkable, compact, transit-oriented communities that maintain local character.  It also requires communities to develop strategies, programs, and projects that address nonmotorized travel as a safe and efficient transportation option.

As discussed above, 10 Minute Neighborhoods have two important components - good destinations and good access.  The policy discussion introduces a third component – people.  Walkable places have a population base of residents and employees who use the amenities.  This reciprocal relationship can be seen in Kirkland’s mixed use commercial neighborhoods like Downtown and Juanita Village – areas that are highly walkable and have a population base that supports the destinations, and that makes use of the transit and sidewalks.

Where are Kirkland’s Most Walkable Neighborhoods?

The product of this analysis is a heat map showing neighborhoods that are the most walkable (in yellow and light orange) and areas of the community where walking to meet daily needs would be challenging (in blue and purple).

Why is this Important?

The ability to retain, create, and enhance 10 minute neighborhoods has benefits for users of the neighborhood and benefits for the community as a whole.  

  • Health. Residents who walk or bike regularly are healthier and therefore walkable communities make it easier to live healthy lifestyles.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people living in walkable neighborhoods get about 35 to 45 more minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week and are substantially less likely to be overweight or obese than people of similar socioeconomic status living in neighborhoods that are not walkable 
  • Traffic. Residents with convenient access to local goods and services are less likely to drive.  If they do drive, they have a shorter travel distance.  The 10 minute neighborhood acknowledges the value to Kirkland’s transportation system of every trip not taken and every mile not driven. 
  • Transit.  Better access to transit equates to more transit users.  Regional data show that people who live within a half mile of a transit node commute less often by single-occupant vehicle (SOV) with a higher percentage using transit, carpooling, and walking or bicycling to work .
  • Demographics.  21 percent of the population aged 65 and older does not drive - and that segment of the population is projected to grow significantly .  Older non drivers need options so they remain engaged with their communities. 
  • Clean Air.  Less traffic means cleaner air and less greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Social Connectivity.  Pedestrian activity and local gathering places help build social cohesion and eyes on the street help people feel safer in their communities.
  • Market Forces.  Recent surveys indicate that a majority of Americans want to live in walkable neighborhoods served by good transit .  Those numbers are significantly stronger for younger Americans and those who plan to move in the future, a strong representation of the future real estate market.
  • Stronger Retail.  A local customer base is good for local businesses.

How Can We Use the Analysis?

At a basic level, the 10 Minute Neighborhood analysis allows the City to measure how walkable the City is today given current land use and accessibility.  From a planning perspective, the City will also model those measurements 20 years in the future under various land use scenarios to see if the City would be more or less walkable based on where growth occurs.  Options to improve 10 minute neighborhoods include creating more destinations, creating better access, and/or concentrating anticipated growth within 10 minute neighborhoods (rather than in less walkable areas).

The analysis also helps the City prioritize transportation investment.  Creating new destinations can be expensive or impossible, so providing new or improved access to existing destinations is a more practical approach to expanding 10 minute neighborhoods.

As part of the 2014 Parks, Recreation & Open Space Plan, the City evaluated where there are gaps in parklands based on walking accessibility and can use that analysis to prioritize park acquisition.


A walkable neighborhood has two primary features – lots of places to walk to, and a way to get to those places on foot.  For the analysis, this is mapped in term of two primary inputs:

  • Destinations such as grocery stores, convenience retail, clusters of eating & drinking & other specialty retail, schools, and parks.
  • Accessibility including elements such as the amount and connectivity of sidewalks along with the location and quality of transit.

Attributes that are based on a specific location were mapped and actual walk distances measured.  This is a marked improvement over past efforts that simply used buffers (as the crow flies) and could not account for whether or not a connection exists.  For detailed information on how the analysis is conducted, review the Technical Appendix.

Technical Appendix

Step 1:  Map the following

  • Commercial Features as points.  Data source is business license data, only include those licenses in commercial or industrial zones, manually reassign and exclude based on business license self-reporting errors.
    • Grocery stores (NAICS code 445110, 452910)
    • Commercial type 1: Convenience stores (NAICS code 445120 & 447110), Pharmacies & drug stores (NAICS code 446110)
    • Commercial type 2:  Restaurants, specialty grocery, bakeries, bars, laundry & dry cleaners, pet stores, book stores, etc.  (NAICS codes 4452, 4453, 446120, 446130, 453910, 4512, 7221, 7222, 7224, 7225, 8123, 311811)
  • Parks parcels. Includes all City, County, and State owned parks within or adjoining Kirkland.  Also includes privately owned Kingsgate community parks. Measurements are taken from pedestrian entrance point to parks.
  • School parcels.  Includes all public school sites, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and Northwest University. Measurements are taken from pedestrian entrance point to school parcels.
  • Bus stops – serving all day transit routes with 15 minute or better frequency 235, 245, and 255.
  • Bus stops – all other Metro transit routes.
  • Intersections.  Includes both public and private streets.
  • Sidewalks and Trails.  Includes all improved public sidewalks and trails.

Step 2: Analyze

 Input  Adobe PDF Icon Logo Tiny Node/grid Walk Distance / Concentrations measured Points / Values assigned
Grocery Point Concentric Distances of 1/8 mile, 1/4 mile, & 1/2 mile 1/8 mile=3, 1/4 mile=2, 1/2 mile=1
Type 1 Commercial Point  Concentric Distances of 1/8 mile, 1/4 mile, & 1/2 mile 1/8 mile=3, 1/4 mile=2, 1/2 mile=1
Type 2 Commercial 1/4 mile grid # occurrences per grid, generalize into 3 categories using Jenks method high=3, medium=2, low=1
Parks Park entrances Concentric Distances of 1/8 mile, 1/4 mile, & 1/2 mile 1/8 mile=3, 1/4 mile=2, 1/2 mile=1
Schools Parcel entrances Concentric Distances of 1/8 mile, 1/4 mile, & 1/2 mile 1/8 mile=3, 1/4 mile=2, 1/2 mile=1
Type 1 Transit Bus Stops (Routes 255, 245, 235) Point Concentric Distances of 1/8 mile, 1/4 mile, & 1/2 mile 1/8 mile=3, 1/4 mile=2, 1/2 mile=1
Type 2 Transit Bus Stops (everything else) Point Concentric Distances of 1/8 mile, 1/4 mile, & 1/2 mile 1/8 mile=1.5, ¼ mile=1, ½ mile=.5
Intersections 1/4 mile grid # occurrences per grid, generalize into 3 categories using Jenks method high=3, medium=2, low=1
Sidewalks and Trails 1/4 mile grid Ratio of sidewalk and trail to street length, generalize into 3 categories using Jenks method high=3, medium=2, low=1

Step 3:  Assumptions and GIS Analysis:

  • Use the three distances outlined above.  Walk distances include all open public connections and are not just limited to streets with sidewalks.  Streets without sidewalks count and the presence of sidewalks is scored as an input value below.
  • Each input area receives a score or 1, 2, or 3, with three being the optimum.  Transit score is the exception, with Type 2 Transit scoring .5, 1, and 1.5 with 1.5 being the optimum.
  • Scores are totaled to yield a geographic cumulative score for all inputs.
  • Each input is only scored once.  For example, if an area is close to two schools it receives a maximum of three points rather than six.
  • All parks, schools, grocery stores, and Type 1 commercial are considered equal (strictly a quantitative rather than a qualitative measure). 

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123 5th Avenue, Kirkland WA 98033

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