What’s Making These Cities So Walkable?

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The latest walkability scores for U.S. cities revealed which metropolitan areas offer the most non-vehicular transit options for pedestrians

What Happened?
The latest walkability scores for U.S. cities revealed which metropolitan areas offer the most non-vehicular transit options for pedestrians.

The WalkScore
According to WalkScore the most walkable city in the U.S. is New York City, followed by:

  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Miami
  • Chicago
  • Washington DC
  • Seattle
  • Oakland
  • Baltimore

The study attributed New York City’s top ranking to the reclaiming of public space from cars for pedestrians. Other factors contributing to walk score totals include:

  • Walking routes
  • Pedestrian friendliness
  • Neighborhood characteristics

Walker-friendly cities not only provide residents with ample public transportation options within walking distance of residential and commercial districts, but also builds pedestrian safety into transit infrastructure to ensure the safety of a growing pedestrian and cyclist population.

Miami’s Big Jump
While the top cities have been high in the rankings for some time, Miami recently implemented significant changes to its urban design to accommodate pedestrian needs. Miami has invested in high-density developments over the past few years that have increased demand for public transit and pedestrian-accessible amenities.

This cultural shift spurred more cafes, restaurants, commercial businesses and cultural sites to sprout up in key walkable neighborhoods. A growing number of urban startups have taken up residency, attracted to the accessibility and dense growth, CityLab reported.

Miami has more plans in the future to cater to walkers and cyclists. Biscayne Green is a project currently under consideration by the city that transforms six blocks of a main boulevard into a pedestrian- and bike-friendly district.

The Miami Downtown Development Authority wanted to make it easier for pedestrians to access different commercial amenities without having to cross eight lanes of traffic, while increasing the curb appeal for local businesses. The plan is to reduce the boulevard from eight to six lanes during rush hour, and four lanes the rest of the day. The curbside rush hour lanes would become street parking, while the median would be converted from parking lots to mini parks. The plan also includes a two-way protected bike lane on one side of the street, CityLab reported.

Stockholm’s Carless Vision
Stockholm is setting a global example in walkability by setting policies that prioritize pedestrians over vehicular traffic. Stockholm was one of the first cities in the world to implement congestion pricing that charged drivers a toll for entering a pedestrian-centric area of the city. The city is also reinventing the Vision Zero strategy cities in the U.S. have deployed to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

Rather than addressing pedestrian safety through increased regulation on drivers, Stockholm is taking Vision Zero one step further to get as many cars of the city’s roads as possible by encouraging residents to experience the health benefits associated with walking and biking. Stockholm has continually closed many streets to any car traffic, which has resulted in economic development in these walkable neighborhoods, CityLab reported.

Property values in pedestrian-centric areas of Stockholm have jumped significantly over the past few years, making it one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Residential properties in Stockholm are now within walking distance of several commercial resources such as public transit, parks, shops, restaurant and cultural centers. Residents appreciate the accessibility of key amenities while living in safer, healthier neighborhoods, CityLab reported.

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EfficientGov is an independent information service providing innovative solutions to fiscal and operational challenges facing cities and towns around the world.