New York City's extensive sidewalks, bike lanes, bike share programs and public transportation help to make it the most walkable city in America, according to the annual Walk Score ratings released this week. The city has three especially walkable neighborhoods: Little Italy, Chinatown and NoHo, all of which were called "walker's paradises."
The Walk Score rankings look at factors such as walking routes, the number of amenities citizens can walk to, the average block length and the density of traffic at intersections. Rankings were calculated by scoring more than two billion walking routes in 10,000 neighborhoods or 2,500 U.S. cities. The organization said its algorithms to calculate the "most walkable" neighborhoods are significantly improved over past years. More than 10 million individual locations were examined and ranked.
Walkable neighborhoods offer numerous advantages for the people who live in them. "Being able to walk out your door and be at your destination — whether that be your job, school, park, grocery store or restaurant — is great for your wallet, health, and quality of life," Josh Herst, CEO of Walk Score, said in a press release.
New York received a total Walk Score of 87.6. Several cities followed close behind. San Francisco ranked a Walk Score of 83.9, Boston received a 79.5, Philadelphia scored 76.5, and Miami came in at 75.6. Other cities in the top ten included Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Oakland and Baltimore.
The Walk Score list also ranks cities by public transportation — New York, San Francisco and Boston were again in the top three in this category — and maintains a list of the most bike-friendly cities. Portland, Oregon, came in at the top of that list.
This year's data does more than just come up with a list of best cities. You can also use the site to find apartments in walkable neighborhoods and examine each area for local amenities (grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops and the like) and the transportation options available. Each site is also tagged with person comments by locals about the neighborhoods and its establishments. (MNN's Matt Hickman took the Apartment Search feature for a test drive in 2011.)
Herst said in the press release that a shift is taking place in America, with more people choosing to live in walkable areas rather than live their lives commuting or driving. "Today commuting by bus, bike and foot are on the rise as more people choose apartments and homes in walkable neighborhoods and with shorter, cheaper and happier commutes," he said.
In addition to the Walk Score website, the same data is available via free iPhone or Android apps.
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