According to Leinberger, Washington’s metro has encouraged walkability. Photo by MatthewBradley from Flickr.
According to a study put out by Christopher B. Leinberger of the Brookings Institute, Washington DC has the most “walkable places” – it has 20 – per capita of any city in the United States, when just 20 years ago it had a scant 2. Leinberger attributes Washington’s rise in walkability to two things: (1) the success of the metro system and (2) the use of “overlay zoning districts” that encourage walkability around metro stations.
Other factors that come in to play are the area’s robust economy, the city’s large population of university degree holders (who are more likely to live in walkable areas), and the throngs of 20 to 30 somethings who flock to the city for jobs.
How could New York with its canyons of glass and steel not be ranked first? Here’s the catch: New York has the most “walkable places” of any US city but because it’s population is so high and falls short on the per capita side.
Urban planner Richard Florida also has some thoughts of his own on his blog.