Walk Score recently released its list of America’s 40 most walkable cities, but what does that mean to you? For those who want to make the Green choice of driving less and walking more, you now have a list of cities that will support that decision. If you don’t live in one of those 40 cities, there is a growing list of online resources to help you make changes in your community.
Walking or Just Talking?
According to “The Carbon Footprint of Daily Travel,” vehicle fuel combustion produces 1/3 of U.S. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. CO2 makes up 80% of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, and household travel is responsible for 3/4 of that. Greenhouse gases contribute to climate change and a host of other environmental ills. If that sounds a bit technical… and boring, think of it in terms of this: Walking, Green. Driving, not so Green.
Americans are certainly talking about walking more. It’s a lifestyle change that makes sense. Walking is an easy way to reduce carbon emissions. It’s cost free. It has an added exercise benefit. Walking is a small Green choice that can make a big difference. As Americans become more aware of a need to reduce their carbon footprints, walkability will become a neighborhood necessity instead of just another topic of conversation.
Walking is indeed one of the easiest ways to put a little bit of Green into your life; but that’s more likely to happen when the city or neighborhood you live in has shops, restaurants, services and other resources close enough to reach by foot. Even if you don’t have that kind of walkability, there are ways to change your streets and surrounding areas to make your community an easier place to walk. Here are a few websites with helpful information.
Walk Score’s online resource has turned walkability into a science. Input an address and the site will use its patent pending system of algorithms to measure the walkability of that location. That sounds pretty complicated; but, in fact, what Walk Score does is pretty simple. They calculate scores based on the walking distance to the places you need to go. The scores determine which cities are easier for a pedestrian to navigate.
Here’s a list of Walk Score’s top 10 most walkable American cities. See walkscore.com for the complete list of 40 cities. , check the Walk Score site.
1- San Francisco, CA
2- New York, NY
3- Boston, MA
4- Chicago, IL
5- Philadelphia, PA
6- Seattle, WA
7- Washington, D.C.
8- Long Beach, CA
9- Los Angeles, CA
10- Portland, OR
Complete Street is dedicated to the proposition that streets should be for everyone, not just “speeding cars.” They are part of a movement that encourages communities to ask city leaders to build roads that provide safe access not only for autos and public transportation vehicles, but also for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages.
Complete Streets advocates street designs with a balance of safety and convenience. Their site explains that these goals can be accomplished by designing streets with “sidewalks, raised medians, better bus stop placement, traffic-calming measures, and treatments for disabled travelers.”
Americawalks.org is a website where “walking advocates” share information and support. The America Walks organization leads a national coalition of local advocacy groups promoting walkable communities. Their goal is to “Educate-Advocate -Collaborate.” They provide links to information on “walking defensively,” the economic benefits of walkable communities and other resources.
In September 2010, in cooperation with the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, Walk America organized the “Equal Footing Summit” to help launch a national walking strategy. See their website for more information.
For additional information on creating a walkable community, visit these additional online walking resources:
Walkable Communities – http://www.walkable.org/
Walkable America – http://www.walkableamerica.org/checklist-walkability.pdf
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center – http://www.walkinginfo.org/index.cfm
Walkable Neighborhoods – http://neighborhoods.org/
Walk Score – http://www.walkscore.com/
Walk Score Top 40 Walkable Cities – http://www.walkscore.com/rankings/most-walkable-cities.php
NHTS Brief – “The Carbon Footprint of Daily Travel”
Complete Streets – http://www.completestreets.org/