Walking is great for your wallet, your health and the environment — and big cities are beginning to realize this. Today’s generation demands a more walkable cityscape and business hubs like New York and Oakland are transforming their cities to meet this demand. Below, you will find a list of the 10 most walkable cities in America, according to Walk Score.
Scores are based on factors like walking routes, number of human conveniences citizens can walk to, average block length and density of traffic at intersections. Most of the cities listed are taking steps to help pedestrians access shopping, green spaces and other community amenities, making your daily commute a little more foot-friendly.
1. New York
New York is the second-most densely populated city in the U.S. so, naturally, it also boasts an incredibly high density of shops, restaurants, and parks. This compactness, combined with pedestrian-focused layout, makes NYC the most walkable city in America. The designed everything from Central Park to the subway stations with foot-traffic in mind.
Access to public green spaces, transportation hubs, and businesses are only a short walk away from nearly anywhere in the city. You could even walk from one side of NYC to the other in under 30 minutes!
2. San Francisco
Like New York, San Francisco has a high population density and, therefore, lots of shops and restaurants within close proximity to each other as well as to urban dwellers. The city also harbors projects geared toward making it even more walkable.
For example, the Municipal Transportation Agency’s Play Streets Project allows communities across the city to transform their block into a car-free, pedestrian-accessible zone that encourages people to get outside, connect and play. Other initiatives, like the SFTMA’s Traffic Calming Program, aim to increase walkability by creating safer streets.
Compactness and downtown Boston’s general walkability make many neighborhoods like Chinatown and the Leather District easy to traverse on foot. Communities like the Back Bay, Beacon Hill and neighboring areas are all somewhat small and close together, offering the best walkability.
The North End neighborhood may be the most accessible by foot — it provides daily necessities and public transportation to other parts of Boston and the surrounding suburbs.
Excellent weather, a nearly flat landscape and sunny beaches make Miami the ideal city when it comes to walkability. Miami’s Downtown Development Authority is constantly working to create new projects that make use of these advantages. For instance, the DDA transformed more than three blocks of parking on Biscayne Boulevard into green spaces.
Under the shadow of the MetroMover tracks sit picnic tables, a dog park, food trucks, art exhibits, evening concerts, vendors and even yoga. Oh, and did we mention Biscayne Green is smack dab in the middle of eight lanes of traffic? The park’s curious placement puts priority on pedestrians instead of cars, which is brilliant when you’re looking to create a more walkable city.
A boom in retail markets has greatly increased Philadelphia’s walkability in recent years. So, if you find yourself in the home of the Philly cheesesteak, you’re likely to witness new grocery stores, coffee shops or even yoga studios appearing around the corner from many homes.
The city also partners with local businesses, community groups and non-profits to transform tired street divisions into pedestrian plazas. These plazas can dramatically improve sense of community, increase the vitality of public spaces and calm traffic.
Chicago has any number of attractions, parks, shops, and eateries within a short walking distance from each other. The city has made dramatic efforts in recent years to make the city more walkable. In 2015, Chicago converted an abandoned elevated railroad into a 2.7-mile recreational path called the Bloomingdale Trail. This trail now connects the 606, a network of four neighborhood parks, art installations and other amenities.
The US Department of Transportation also launched the Make Way for People campaign to create more public spaces. This initiative makes it safer and easier for humans to do what they do best — walk.
7. Washington D.C.
There are many walkable neighborhoods in our nation’s capitol. The most notable may be U Street, Chinatown and Dupont Circle. These areas are quickly becoming the fastest-growing segment of the real estate market.
The reason? Food. Bars and restaurants, combined with the high volume of metro stations, are the foundation for this growth in walkability.
Stairways have a long history of connecting people, especially in cities where space is in short supply. So it’s no surprise Seattle neighborhoods with stairs tend to be more walkable. But this city is jam-packed with more than just stairs. Urban parks, the International Fountain, Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, and Chihuly Garden and Glass are all within a short walk of one another.
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Oakland and most are downtown and easily accessible by foot. This city boasts a Sunday farmer’s market, a thriving arts scene, eclectic shops, and unique dining experiences. Oakland also has areas like Rockridge where you can find a growing number of single-family homes close to shopping areas.
These homes may be more expensive than renting an apartment or living further from the city center, but they are closer to amenities that don’t require you to spend money on gas to get there.
10. Long Beach
A recent increase in pedestrian-friendly initiatives improved this city’s walk score. These improvements include new street signs, lights, and colorful rainbow crosswalks that demand drivers’ attention. The performing arts centers, theaters, shopping plazas, and dining are all a five- to 10-minute walk downtown, making it highly walkable.
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Lace Up Your Shoes in These Most Walkable Cities
Not only does living in one of these highly walkable cities give your wallet, health and the environment a break, it increases your quality of life and sense of community. Exploring your neighborhood and all it has to offer from the comfort of your own shoes promises a deeper sense of happiness and belonging than staring through a car window ever will.