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Most walk-friendly cities in America

  • Most walk-friendly cities in America

    The walkability of a city brings a lot of benefits onto the sidewalk. For one, residents are able to get more exercise, increasing both physical and mental health. Plus, walkable cities are more likely to have a stronger presence in the arts and civic-engagement worlds. To make it even better, 2019 research showed that kids growing up in walkable cities earn more when they’re older.

    But in much of America, it’s practically impossible to get around without a car. People must drive to get to school or work, to run errands, or visit friends—since normally at least one of these destinations is too far away, or the roads do not have safe sidewalks. In some major cities, however, walking is much more feasible. One can cross a park to get to a friend’s apartment, buy milk on the way home from a jog, or stroll a couple of blocks to eat at a 24-hour diner. These cities have the density and infrastructure to offer residents a healthier way of getting around.

    But out of all the cities in the country, which ones are the best for walking? Stacker gives you the top 50 in this list, using data pulled from the 2020 Walk Score tool.

    These Walk Scores are calculated based on the walking distance from average homes to nearby amenities in the city (up to a 30-minute walk), and also take into consideration metrics of “pedestrian friendliness” based on population density and road conditions. The rankings include the obvious spots like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, but you’ll also find some surprising, overlooked cities—like Des Moines, Iowa, and Tampa, Florida. Read on to find out where your city ranks on the list, as well as that city’s walk score and the best-ranked neighborhoods within it.

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  • #50. Irving, Texas

    - Walk score: 43.8
    - Population: 216,290

    By 2017, Irving had lost its major sports landmarks and needed a new way to keep residents and visitors attracted to the area. Thanks to a thriving corporate culture, the city decided to create more walkable pockets. Now, three neighborhoods stand out as epicenters of walkability: Plymouth Park, Plymouth Park North, and Espanita.

  • #49. Des Moines, Iowa

    - Walk score: 44.9
    - Population: 203,433

    When Des Moines decided to update its zoning codes in 2019, the city brought in consultants from Chicago who spent 19 months figuring out how to make the city more walkable. And although the city is still fairly car-dependent, residents in Carpenter, Sherman Hill, and Drake Park enjoy the walkability on track for the rest of Des Moines.

  • #48. Fresno, California

    - Walk score: 44.9
    - Population: 494,665

    Residents of the Cultural Arts District, Little Italy, and Lowell in Fresno enjoy the same amount of walkability that’s coming to other parts of the car-dependent city. New housing developments on the northeast side are introducing 2,500 acres of space for living, working, and playing—all with walkable shopping and entertainment.

  • #47. Norfolk, Virginia

    - Walk score: 45.0
    - Population: 242,803

    If you live in downtown Norfolk, Highland Park, or ODU Village, you can enjoy proximity to almost a dozen restaurants within a five-minue walk. Developers are trying to bring that to other neighborhoods, too—like Norfolk's Historic Railroad District, a once-industrial area now booming with condos and business.

  • #46. Toledo, Ohio

    - Walk score: 45.3
    - Population: 287,208

    Although Toledo averages just one restaurant within a five-minute walk from any home, the Downtown and Warren Sherman neighborhoods have an 80% and 75% walkability score, respectively. Toledo also makes the top-25 list of cities where people can afford to live by the waterfront—so even if you can’t find a great restaurant nearby, you can certainly head to the lake.

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  • #45. Sacramento, California

    - Walk score: 45.3
    - Population: 466,488

    Sacramento as a whole struggles with walkability as well as the safety of doing so In 2016, Sacramento had the highest rate of children (14 and younger) killed by cars while walking in the city; there’s even a nonprofit called WALKSacramento that strives to keep pedestrians safe. Of all the neighborhoods in Sacramento, Downtown, Midtown, and North Oak Park rate as the most walkable.

  • #44. Dallas, Texas

    - Walk score: 46.0
    - Population: 1,197,816

    Even with walkable neighborhoods like Downtown, Oak Lawn, and Henderson, Dallas residents generally regard the city as non-walkable. Until the coronavirus hit, that is. Mark Lamster writes for the Dallas Morning News that when the virus began to rage, people hit the streets in droves—and some things, like the addition of a bike lane or the removal of a stretch of highway, should probably be addressed if the city wants this momentum to continue.

  • #43. Omaha, Nebraska

    - Walk score: 46.8
    - Population: 408,958

    Residents of Omaha are about to begin benefitting from more walkability outside of just the most accessible neighborhoods of Old Market, Market West, and Park East. More and more residents are starting to go without a car, something that could increase bus traffic throughout the city. And developers are looking to revitalize formerly rundown areas like North 24th Street in northern Omaha.

  • #42. Atlanta

    - Walk score: 47.8
    - Population: 420,003

    Atlanta may have public transportation like the MARTA and buses, as well as a fair amount of bike lanes, but the city is still lacking in walkability. Residents on the whole can get to approximately five restaurants within a five-minute walk, but for those in the more walker-friendly neighborhoods of Georgia State University, Peachtree Center, and Buckhead Village, that number skyrockets to around 20 spots in five minutes.

  • #41. Houston

    - Walk score: 47.9
    - Population: 2,099,451

    In Neartown-Montrose, Midtown, and Greenway-Upper Kirby, residents may already enjoy the walkability perks of Houston. There are eight restaurants within a five-minute walk. The city council in Houston is in the process of enacting policy changes designed specifically to make the city denser and more walkable.

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