Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in the Largest Metros


A new report finds there are 619 regionally significant walkable urban places (or “WalkUPS”) in the 30 largest metro areas—home to 46% of the US population—and that the 6-county LA metro region ranks #17 with 53 WalkUPS. (The top 6: NYC, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle.) LA ranks #7 in terms of “Development Momentum”—a ranking that indicates how walkable or sprawling future development is likely to be—#11 in terms of social equity (now that is counterintuitive!), and 27th in terms of GDP per capita.

The key point made in the report, by Chris Leinberger and Michael Rodriguez at the George Washington University School of Business, is that: the more walkable cities also have the most development momentum, and are the most educated and wealthy (as measured by per capita GDP) because that’s where people want to live and where companies want to locate. (LA is somewhat of an anomaly, I think, because the density, urbanity and walkability of LA County is in striking contrast to that in the 5 other counties that comprise our region, skewing our scores.)

Given what we all know about skyrocketing rents it’s hard to believe that these walkable urban places are also the most socially equitable. But this is because, according to the report, low cost transportation options—especially walking and biking—and better access to employment opportunities offset the higher costs of housing. Which underscores “the need for continued and aggressive development of attainable housing solutions,” the authors point out. Download the report here.

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