Missing Persons famously sang that Nobody Walks In LA all the way back in 1982. But, according to one report, the times they are a changing. More people will soon be walking in that car-centric city than they do now, the theory goes. Just like they will in Boston, Miami, Atlanta and Detroit.
A report from the George Washington University School of Business' Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis ranked the 30 largest US metropolitan areas by walkability, and placed Washington, DC, atop its list. DC was followed by Boston, New York and San Francisco, with Chicago coming in at number 5. Rankings were obtained by measuring the percentage of commercial real estate space located within so-called "walkable urban spaces." Cities like Tampa, Phoenix and Orlando came in at the bottom of the list.
Things get more interesting when factoring which cities will get more walkable with time. Boston, DC and New York topped that list, but Los Angeles moved up to No. 11 from No. 18 on the current walkability list. Miami's jump was even more stunning, to No. 4 from No. 23, indicating that lots of people are taking their walking talents to South Beach. Detroit made almost as big a jump as Miami.
Lots of people are taking their walking talents to South Beach.
One of the report's findings was that more walkability means higher overall income, but that's where things get a little hazy. Yes, people in more pedestrian-friendly cities like Boston, New York or San Francisco tend to make more money, but that's a chicken-or-egg question of cause and effect. After all, another report from the US Census Bureau that came out earlier this year indicated that low income people were more likely to walk or bike to work than those with flush bank accounts. And then there was the March 2012 research brief from Bridging the Gap that noted that higher-income areas generally had more pedestrian-friendly touches like better sidewalk lighting and marked crosswalks.That may be more an issue of a bigger tax base and political clout. Still, the George Washington U. report is worth a read, especially for the new-urbanist types. You can find it here.