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2. Wide sidewalks

People want to be near other people. They are hard-wired to want to check each other out and make eye contact, says Fred Kent, founder and president of the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces. And, hey, it just feels good to greet your neighbors.

There’s no better place to do that than on a stroll down the sidewalks of your community’s main streets. Of course, these sidewalks have to be wide enough to accommodate everyone comfortably.

There’s no ideal sidewalk width, planners say. It depends on how much foot traffic a neighborhood gets and the kinds of businesses located there.

According to “Pedestrian and Transit Oriented Design,” co-authored by Reid Ewing, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, it takes about 12 feet for strolling couples to pass one another without “awkward maneuvering.”

Ideally, Kent says, main-street sidewalks would be sandwiched between businesses and outdoor seating or street vendors, eventually running into public plazas where people could sit on a bench and linger.

Slide show: 
10 priciest places to live

10 neighborhood must-haves
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