A new report named Washington D.C. as the most walkable city in America. It’s an unexpected designation, given New York’s reputation for being supremely pedestrian-friendly.
How do you rank walkability? The team of researchers, which included Christopher Leinberger and Patrick Lynch at The George Washington University School of Business, identified Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) in the U.S.’s 30 largest metropolises. Whether an area qualifies as a WalkUP is determined based on its amount of office and retail space and its Walk Score, which essentially measures whether daily errands and commutes require cars or not. As cities try to move away from car dependence and urban sprawl, an area’s walkability is increasingly becoming a predictor of real estate value.
With its grid system, public transportation, and dense packing together of residential, commercial, and office spaces, New York might’ve seemed like the obvious winner in a nation-wide walkability contest. But as the report points out, it’s really only the borough of Manhattan that’s so walkable. The island is home to only 10% of the entire city’s residents, but contains 89% of its WalkUPs. Washington, DC, on the other hand, not only has the most office and retail in WalkUPs of any city, but also has the most balanced distribution of walkable urban space between the central city (51 percent) and suburbs (49 percent). It’s the only metro area that has more than half of its WalkUPs in the suburbs. Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago took third, fourth, and fifth place for walkability in the report.