America’s Most Walkable Cities

Author: Richard Florida

The great economic reset we are in the midst of extends even to Americans’ choices of places to live. The popularity of sprawling auto-dependent suburbs is waning. A majority of Americans–six in 10–say they would prefer to live in walkable neighborhoods, in both cities and suburbs, if they could. Writing in The Wall Street Journal a few months ago, I noted how changes in our economy and demography are altering “the texture of suburban life in favor of denser, more walkable, mixed-use communities.” Christopher Leinberger has shown the positive effects of walkability in cities, towns, and suburbs; the architects Ellen Dunham Jones and June Williamson have detailed ways that older car-oriented suburbs can be retrofitted into more people-friendly, mixed-use, walkable communities. And walkability pays. According to research by Joe Cortright, housing prices have held up better in more walkable communities.

Walkscore.com, the online group that rates walkable neighborhoods, provides detailed data on walkability for 2,500 cities and 6,000 neighborhoods across the United States. Nate Berg of planetizen used their data to come up with a new way to rate and rank America’s most walkable cities and metros. The chart below shows his results. The first column shows how metros stack up on walkscore.com’s overall walkability index. The second lists Berg’s calculation based on the number of neighborhoods in these metros that have above-average walk scores. (Details on Berg’s methodology are here.)

Most Walkable Metros

By Walkscore By % of above avg neighborhoods
San Francisco San Francisco
New York Boston
Boston Philadelphia
Philadelphia New York
Chicago Washington, D.C.
Seattle Chicago
Washington, D.C. Denver
Portland Seattle
Los Angeles Portland
Long Beach Long Beach
Baltimore Los Angeles
Denver Fresno*
Milwaukee Austin
San Diego Baltimore
San Jose Atlanta
Las Vegas Tucson
Sacramento San Diego
Atlanta Houston
Fresno San Jose
Omaha Omaha^
Albuquerque Columbus
Austin Milwaukee
Houston Louisville
Columbus Las Vegas
Detroit Albuquerque
Tucson Sacramento
Dallas Dallas
Phoenix Detroit
Mesa Mesa*
San Antonio Nashville
Louisville Kansas City
Fort Worth Phoenix
Kansas City El Paso
El Paso Charlotte
Oklahoma City Oklahoma City^
Indianapolis San Antonio
Memphis Jacksonville
Nashville Fort Worth
Charlotte Indianapolis^
Jacksonville Memphis*

Source: Nate Berg of planetizen, based on walkscore.com data.

Read the full article at http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/12/americas-most-walkable-cities/67988/#books

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The world’s best 10 cities for walking?

Author: Philip Langdon

New Urban Network

“There are cities where cars reign supreme, others where a bicycle or public transportation will suffice, and a select few that remain a paradise for two feet,” says Charis Atlas Heelan in introducing a selection of “10 best cities for walking” from Frommer’s, the travel service.

Regrettably, I have been to only five of them. And two of those — Edinburgh and Munich — I visited a long, long time ago. Nonetheless, I have to wonder at such a contradictory list.

According to Heelan’s compilation, available here, the 10 best cities for walking are Dubrovnik, Florence, Paris, New York, Vancouver, Munich, Edinburgh, Boston, Melbourne, and Sydney.

The European cities are easy enough to credit. Of those, Dubrovnik is the most obscure. Not many Americans have been to that old Croatian city on the Adriatic, but Frommer’s photo of the Placa (its main street) and of its Franciscan Monastery is evidence enough that Dubrovnik shares the traits that make many European cities a walker’s delight: pedestrian passages adeptly enclosed by the facades of buildings; generous architectural detail to keep the pedestrian interested; appealing natural materials (especially masonry); and structures that connect present-day visitors to centuries past. All of Frommer’s European picks look appealing to walk in.

Then there are the others.

Read the full article at http://newurbannetwork.com/article/worlds-best-10-cities-walking-13638

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Good Congestion?

Congestion is like cholesterol. There’s good congestion and bad congestion.

That’s the main idea from this great article from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Norquist – a progressive Democrat, who, after 16 years as mayor, retired to head the organisation Congress for the New Urbanism in Chicago – says motorways should be ring roads around the edges of metropolitan areas, leaving streets free to clog up occasionally with buses, walkers, cyclists, train commuters and, yes, local cars carrying people who patronise businesses. ”That’s the good congestion,” he says, ”when you generate traffic and passing trade that keeps a neighbourhood vibrant.”

Read the full text at http://www.smh.com.au/national/compact-chaos-taking-it-to-the-streets-20101119-180zg.html

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Toronto Takes Off to a Great Walkable North

Author: Christopher Leinberger

October 28, 2010 —

Just back from a four day trip to Toronto with my University of Michigan graduate students learning about pedestrian-oriented urban development. We toured seven major walkable urban places from downtown to a couple downtown-adjacent places, but especially suburban-located walkable urban places redeveloping old town centers and strip commercial centers.
What did we see? A forest of cranes building 30 to 50 story condominiums, rental apartments, and office towers in these walkable urban places and ground level street life that rivals the best metropolitan areas in the world.

The reason I selected Toronto for the students included the generous invitation of Richard Florida, a beacon for my students for having zeroed in on the knowledge economy and the rise of the creative class.

Another reason to see Toronto is that Canada had much more sober banking practices over the past decade, unlike the U.S., so that their five major institutions, all with headquarters in Toronto, have continued lending. The result is seen in the skyline, reflecting the continued engagement of the built environment, representing 35 percent of the assets of the economy, at work. Canada, like China, India, and Brazil, reasonably painlessly continued to grow through the Great Recession.

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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

Read the full article at http://www.reconnectingamerica.org/public/projects/723

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