Making The Twin Cities More Walkable

New CTOD report provides methodology for assessing and boosting the walkability of a place

Changing demographics and housing preferences as well as concerns about quality of life are boosting the demand for walkable urbanism and transit-oriented development in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region as elsewhere in the U.S. The Twin Cities’ real estate market must be able to provide for this demand in order to preserve the region’s economic competitiveness, but a recent study by the Brookings Institution found the Twin Cities ranked below average in the number of “regionally significant walkable places.” Brookings found only two such existing places – the downtowns in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

As part of an effort to promote walkable, transit-oriented places in the Twin Cities, the Center for Transit Oriented Development has just completed a study outlining an approach for transforming existing activity centers into walkable places. This study was done in partnership with the Urban Land Institute in Minnesota and the ULI/Curtis Regional Infrastructure Project and called the Connecting Transportation and Land Use Systems Initiative. The initiative was funded by the McKnight Foundation.

In defining a “walkable urban place” the CTOD considered several measures:

  • whether a place has a multi-modal transportation system and how well it performs
  • the “employment gravity” of job clusters and the mix of uses – to determine how many hours out of the day people actively use a place
  • the intensity of uses — how many people use the area
  • the area’s “walkscore” – a measure of the amenities within walking distance
  • a connectivity index that measures the connectedness or “permeability” of the street network – because connected street networks support increased walking and biking as well as other benefits
  • block sizes and intersection density
  • origin mode split and destination mode split
  • land opportunity and the potential for walkability

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