WalkScore's New Rankings for Cities

2,500 cities ranked using 2010 Census data.
Walkscore updated their rankings.

Walkscore updated their rankings.

My heroes at WalkScore are out today with updated walkability rankings for American cities. Using the new 2010 Census data and enlarging their analysis to include 2,500 cities, WalkScore’s new analysis includes some changes from last time around in 2008.

Here are the top 10 big cities for walking. There are some changes from last time around: New York nudged San Francisco out of the top spot; Seattle stuck to the number 6 position with a score of 73.7 (just behind Philadelphia and just ahead of DC); but Portland fell out of the top 10 to the 12th spot with a score of 66.3 (between Long Beach and Los Angeles).

The most walkable neighborhood in the Northwest? It’s no longer Portland’s Pearl District. It’s Seattle’s Denny Triangle with a neighborhood average score of 98 (though it’s worth noting that even the Denny Triangle is only 31st best in the nation). South Lake Union and Belltown were close behind with scores of 97. Portland’s most walkable neighborhood is its downtown, with a score of 96, followed closely by Hollywood and the Pearl District, each at 95. The best walking neighborhoods in the country are here.

Other notable cities in Washington include Tacoma and Kirkland, which tied for second in the Evergreen State with average scores of 59, and Shoreline with a score of 58. Among Oregon’s smaller cities, Ashland netted an impressive 62, Milwaukie scored 59, and Roseburg and Oak Grove both scored 58. Idaho’s most walkable city, Boise, earns a 50.

The full geekery/methodology is here.

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  1. eldan says:

    Denny Triangle is a really bizarre finding. Take a walk through it – it’s full of surface parking and car dealerships, not to mention that Denny Way and Westlake Ave are both horrible streets to cross on foot. It’s actually such an odd place to be calling the most walkable neighbourhood that it makes me question the whole updated methodology.

    • Jesse says:

      Walk Score’s neighborhood and city scores are population weighted to “reflect where people live and so that neighborhoods/cities do not have lower scores because of parks, bodies of water, etc”.

      In Denny Triangle the residential populations are along the southern edges of the neighborhood — the southern parts of 5th and 6th streets bordering belltown to the SW, and the area SE of Virginia down to Olive. The parking lots and car dealers are mostly at the north edge and center, away from the residential parts of the neighborhood, and so are not factored as strongly into the score.

      The quote above is from the Walk Score Rankings Methodology page here: http://www.walkscore.com/rankings/ranking-methodology.shtml

      • eldan says:

        Ah, that makes a lot more sense. Thanks for the clarification.

  2. Nick says:

    I live in the Denny Triangle neighborhood and find it very walkable. Not only is it minutes on foot to Belltown, Capitol Hill, the Downtown Business District and S. Lake Union, but I have multiple grocery stores, cafes, entertainment and a lot more within a 5 block radius. Yes there are parking lots and car dealerships, and I wish there were other things there, but from a walkability standpoint, it is very easy to get to things by foot.

  3. JoshMahar says:

    I love walkscore and everything they do is amazing and useful. But I think it is important to note the big caveat here:

    “Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.”

    I think this is underappreciated in the actual decisions of people walking. No one would point to Hollywood or Denny Triangle as a “successful urban neighborhood”.

    The next step might be to use walkscore data and compare it to actual transit trends by census block. Might help us find out why people don’t walk even in walkable places.

  4. Michael Murray says:

    I have issues with WalkScore. If you didn’t know better (say, you’re from another country and don’t know different parts of US cities) you might say to yourself: “Hey — mid-town Manhattan gets a walk score of 100% in NYC which is the highest-rated city… I’ll move there!”. But very view people live in mid-town Manhattan.

    Without picking *things you want to be able to walk to* first, the score is kinda useless. Do you need to walk to the grocery? Mass transit? An elementary school? A bar?

    If I can walk to 8 bars within .5 miles, that doesn’t really help me understand the potential of an the neighborhood based on the walk score. Yes, you can plug some of this stuff in on their site, but the score without this information is not useful.

  5. donaleen says:

    My location in Portland only gets a walkability score in the high 70’s but I think it is extremely walkable. Nothing is just around the corner but there is so much in just over a half mile… and the walks are very nice. In a mile radius I can walk to 10 grocery stores of various sorts, dozens of restaurants, three movie theaters, a library branch, a bookstore, lots of shops selling just about everything and a very close park. Access to public transportation is also very good. So I think walk score misses the point.

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