Kaid Benfield Archive


Prevention's "25 best walking cities" in the US

Kaid Benfield

Posted May 22, 2009 at 1:38PM

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  San Francisco's Mission District (by: telmo32, creative commons license)  a walkable neighborhood in Boston (by: Annie & John Schmidt, creative commons license)

Prevention magazine has published a list of the cities that its editors believe are the best in the land for walking.  There are no surprises in the top ten, unless you count Honolulu as one:

  1. San Francisco
  2. New York
  3. Boston
  4. Chicago
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Washington
  7. Seattle
  8. Honolulu
  9. Portland
  10. Pittsburgh

There are, though, a few that I didn't expect to see in the top 25, walking in Center City Philadelphia (by: Judy Malley, creative commons license)including Rochester, Santa Ana, San Jose, Columbus, and Tucson.  They don't say a lot about the list, but I did like a few of the short reasons why.  For example:

  • Philadelphia:  "High density of schools keep speed limits low in many neighborhoods making the streets safer for walkers."
  • Honolulu:  "Good mix of desirable destinations such as stores and restaurants within walking distance."
  • San Diego (#14):  "Some of the many improvements include new street lights, crosswalks and curb pop-outs in desirable downtown locations. And a new pedestrian bridge is in the works."
  • Denver (#20):  "Varied and diverse downtown, features outdoor mall for only pedestrian traffic and public transportation on 6 out of 7 days."
  • Columbus (#21):  "Hundreds of beautiful parks, including the Topiary Garden, which has recreated Seurat'sTopiary Park in Columbus (by: JJ Photo) 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte' painting, for visitors to walk through."  (Now I must go see it.)

It is interesting to compare Prevention's list with Chris Leinberger's, which is based on the ratio of the number of highly walkable districts within metropolitan areas to population.  Nine of Chris's top ten are also in Prevention's top ten, though I'm proud to say that Washington leads his list.  Confirming the consensus, nine of the top ten in Chris's list also make the top ten in the rankings of the totally fun site Walk Score.  Eight of Walk Score's top ten overlap with Prevention's.  San Francisco and Boston are two of the top three in all three lists.