The Walkability Factor & Why It Matters

by Rana WaxmanNovember 21, 2017

If things like air quality and physical activity are as much on your radar as real estate, you are one of many who prefers a walkable lifestyle. Researchers show that a neighborhood’s walkability has positive health outcomes on body mass index, better breathing, and a more streamlined flow through daily activities. If you are someone who prefers to walk to work, schools, shops, restaurants, the bank and other errands, you may want to live somewhere that is pedestrian friendly.

The Walkability Factor and Why It Matters

For some, the ability to get where they need to go on foot is a huge asset, not to mention a way to burn calories. Certainly, walking – even if to catch public transportation, has numerous benefits. For one thing, and this is true for biking as well, it is a ‘greener,’ more environmentally friendly way to get around. Leaving a car behind reduces city street congestion and air pollution.

NYCAnd, while it may put more mileage on a pair of shoes, getting your steps in adds a recreational boost to your day, and health. The Mayo Clinic says that regular brisk walking has the following five health benefits.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight
  2. Prevent or manage heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
  3. Strengthen bones and muscles
  4. Mood enhancer
  5. Improve balance and coordination

FUN FACT: “There are 619 regionally significant, walkable urbanplaces — referred to as WalkUPs — in the 30 largest US metropolitan areas”

Walkable: The New Urban Development

Studies are showing that urban sprawl is out and walkable urban places, or “WalkUPs” are in. In fact, walking is giving ‘drivable’ a run for its money. A recent report called “Foot Traffic Ahead” by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis states that “walkable urban market share growth in office and multi-family rental has increased in all 30 of the largest metros between 2010-2015, while drivable sub-urban locations have lost market share.” That’s right, cities are striving for a great walkability score.

What is a Walk Score?

Wonder how walkable your address is? Walk Score, which is a patented Redfin product, envisions that every property listing is evaluated for its walkability and transportation in addition to the common features, like how many bedrooms and baths. You can type any address into their search engine to get a walkability score. Points are awarded based on the distance from amenities. It factors in things such as population density, road metrics, block length, and intersection density.

How Walkable Do You Want It?

There are of course, multiple categories for just how walkable a city is. Moreover, as the saying goes, there is a ‘pot for every lid.’ Not everyone wants to walk everywhere. Of course, the higher the walk score, the more on the move one can be. To this point, Walk Score assigns city ratings from zero to 100. So how walkable do you want a neighborhood to be?

  • Look for the highest scores if you want to run daily errands without a car. Or, great scores if you prefer to get most things done on foot.
  • Set your sights on medium scores if you want to keep your foot on the gas pedal, but still want to let’s say, walk to the dry cleaner and get at least some things done on your own.
  • Not into walking at all? Look for lower scores which mean you need to depend on your car for most, if not all errands.

Top Ten Most Walkable US Cities

Wonder what the most walkable cities in the USA are? Based on the findings of Walk Score and Foot Traffic Ahead, pedestrian accessibility is best in the following 10 cities:

  1. New York, New York
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. Boston, Massachusetts
  4. Washington, DC
  5. Chicago, Illinois
  6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  7. Seattle, Washington
  8. Long Beach, California
  9. Portland, Oregon
  10. Denver, Colorado

Moreover, within each city, you could look for the most walkable neighborhoods. This can make a great bucket list for pocketbook-friendly travel. Take out your sneakers and stroll to take in a city’s architecture, shop its boutiques, and eat like a local.


‘These Boots Were Made for Walkin’: Use Walkability to Your Advantage

Making sense of this data as a home seller or prospective buyer is to your advantage. If your city or neighborhood has a great score, you may want to add it to your listing to perk up the potential value. Or, if you are in the market for a new zip code, you may want to think about what score you have where you are. And, whether the walkability factor is something to think about going forward. My neighborhood scores 91! They call that “walker’s paradise.” I am in the zone.

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About The Author
Rana Waxman
Rana Waxman parlays years of work experience in several fields into web content creation aligned with client needs. Rana's versatile voice is supported by a zest for research, a passion for photography, and desire to provide clients with a purposeful presence online. In her non-writing hours, Rana is a happy yogini, constant walker, avid reader, and sometimes swimmer.