Why You Should Move to a Walkable City
Can You Actually Walk the Walk in Your Next City?
If you enjoy exploring cities by foot, you could be among the growing group of homebuyers — millennials especially — that are moving away from car-dependent locations and toward those with high walkability. Walkable, or walk-friendly, cities boast an abundance of sidewalks, pedestrian right of ways, parks, public spaces, and streets accommodating bicyclists and transit.
Why Does Walkability Matter?
Walkability isn’t simply the act of walking — it’s the positive path it leads to. With the many health benefits promised by enough walking, including reduced risk of chronic disease and stress, the fact that cities with high walkability are overall healthier communities comes as no surprise.
According to Walk Score, the authority on walkability, “Walkability is about convenience, quality of life and everything outside the four walls of a house.” This is probably why you were intrigued by a walkable city in the first place (besides the fact you’ve got the environment’s back), right?
What Other Benefits does Walkability Serve?
A report from George Washington University titled “Foot Traffic Ahead” suggests quite a few. The study identified 619 “WalkUps” (“regionally significant walkable urban places”) in the 30 largest U.S. urban metros. Together, these 30 areas make up 46% of the nation’s total population and 54% of its GDP, according to the Bureau of Economic Research.
The characteristics of the 619 identified WalkUps were: total office space greater than or equal to 1.4 million square feet; total retail space greater than or equal to 340,000 square feet; and a Walk Score greater than 70 (considered “Very Walkable”) at the most walkable intersection.
What did the Walkability Research Find?
The research showed metros with the highest levels of walkable urbanism to also be the most:
- Socially equitable, due to the juxtaposition of low transportation costs and easier employment access offsetting higher housing costs
- Educated (when measured by GDP per capita), as evidenced by a considerably higher educated workforce, measured by college graduates older than 25
- Wealthy (when measured by GDP per capita)
What are the 30 Most Walkable Cities as reported by this Research?
Given this research, here are the cities proven to let you walk the walk:
- New York City
- Washington, D.C.
- San Francisco Bay
- Minneapolis-St. Paul
- Kansas City
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- Las Vegas
- San Antonio
What Else can Help Determine a City’s Walkability?
Walk Score quantifies an area’s walkability — as well as bike and transit accessibility — using a score ranging from 0 to 100. Simply enter any address on their site to instantly access a score.
Walk Scores are categorized as follows:
Score of 0-24: Car Dependent. Nearly all errands require the use of a car.
Score of 25-49: Car Dependent. Most errands require the use of a car.
Score of 50-69: Somewhat Walkable. It is possible to accomplish some errands on foot.
Score of 70-89: Very Walkable. It is possible to accomplish most errands on foot.
Score of 90-100: Walker’s Paradise. No car is required for daily errands.
Doesn’t “Walker’s Paradise” have a nice ring to it? The most walkable cities from Walk Score are:
- New York
- San Francisco
- Washington D.C.
- Long Beach
Is your next city on the list?