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This East Coast City Was Named the Most Walkable in the U.S.



A mere four percent of Americans can safely walk or bike to work every day. Only 12 percent can walk to a grocery store. And, the average American takes between 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, far fewer than the 10,000 a day recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, none of this is the public’s fault: most of America’s cities were not built for walking — and it’s costing us billions in fuel and untold fortunes with our health. If having the ability to walk to school, work, a nearby store, or just for leisure is important to you, there are a few stand-out metropolitan areas you may consider relocating to in the future. 

The Foot Traffic Ahead 2023 report examined the 35 largest metropolitan areas across the U.S. to find the most “well-connected, walkable neighborhoods.” And it once again named New York City the most walkable city in America. 

“The New York City metro area is ranked first for current walkable urbanism, as it has been in all previous editions of Foot Traffic Ahead,” the team wrote. “In the case of metro New York City, a staggering 73 percent of all office space in the region is in walkable urban places, due to the preponderance of corporate headquarters, the largest finance concentration in the world, and the second largest technology concentration, all of which tend to demand walkable urban places. Multifamily rental housing also tends to concentrate in walkable urban places in the most highly ranked walkable urban metro areas. In metro New York City, 70 percent of all multifamily rental inventory is in walkable urban places.”

The findings did add this caveat: “New York has a reputation as a walkable urban metro; however, much of that reputation is based on the city’s core, especially Manhattan. Much of the surrounding metro area is substantially less walkable in northern New Jersey, Long Island, and the southern Hudson Valley.” 

Joining New York City at the top of the rankings is Boston at the No. 2 spot, followed by Washington D.C.; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; Chicago; and Los Angeles rounding out its level one cities, which all have excellent marks for walkability to essentially everything one would need to never need a car again.

According to the researchers, it found several common elements in walkable cities, including that they have “homes of many sizes and price points” that sit alongside offices, small businesses, and retail establishments, along with parks and public places. That said, the team also found the more walkable a city becomes the less accessible it can become as well. 

“One common consequence of communities with walkable urbanism is that they become unattainable as rising prices only allow those who can afford high-cost housing to access the benefits of these spaces,” the team wrote in the report. “For example, our research finds that amenity-rich walkable urbanism often comes at a premium due to limited supply — it comprises generally less than 5 percent of a region’s land — and that poses challenges for housing affordability and social equity.” 

Want to see how your city faired? Check out the full report and rankings at smartgrowthamerica.org



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