July 17, 2008

Here's a list of the most "walkable" cities. Yes, you can live without your car.


You can live without a car.

You can shop locally.

You can avoid the gas station.

Really.

Here's
a list of 40 big cities, led by San Fran, NYC and Boston, based on their 'walk score', and an article about the results.

Here's a better list, of walkable small towns, and another one with small and medium cities - note that Boulder is #1 (of course).

HP'ers know that I don't drive anymore - haven't for years. I walk everywhere, and take the trains, the buses, the metros and the tubes. But cities in Europe are built for this, not for the car. America is different. Or at least it was different. The change is gonna come. Quickly.

America's love affair with the car and suburbia is over.

Future generations of Americans are going to be looking for a different way of life - one not built around the car. Some cities and towns will get it and re-engineer, others won't. Some will see massive investment in public transportation, pedestrian zones, bike lanes and re-urbanization. Others will do nothing. And then Americans will make their choice.

And those homes in the far-flung exurbs that realtors were pushing?

Worthless.

64 comments:

eric in vegas said...

The SUV and McBurbs are on life support. People are discovering that a few extra dollars per gallon of gas is not the end of the world. Every day I see more and more people walking and riding a bike.

Anonymous said...

Los Angeles?? HAHAHAHA

Never will happen in LA, people here would rather be car-poor. (and house-poor).

LA is walkable for maybe 5% of the residents, mostly those that live in the area from westside to downtown, and the beach communities, or the few scattered shoping magnet areas (Ventura blvd, Old town Pasadena) and that's only talking about groceries, starbucks, and maybe the gym, a park or movie if you're lucky. even those in the most walkable parts, most would likely need to drive to get to work or visit a friend.

i have what most consider a dream commute, i live about 2 miles to work, it's either a 10 minute drive or a 30-40 minute bus ride. (needless to say it's drive most of the time). very few people have a commute thats a shorter distance then mine.

those that consider downtown to be walkable have never done so at night. (not off the beaten path atleast)

Anonymous said...

I doubt you'd want to live in those areas listed for Los Angeles Keith.

gwk said...

The problem as I see it is going to be where are the employees needed for service industries going to live as they go to work with salaries less than and I will be generous $20.00 per hour and under when the exodus from suburbia returns. Here in NYC with rents in the five boroughs (Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island) in the $2000 per month range for studios and 1 bedrooms this is going to be impossible. We have the hotel industry, restaurant industry, to name a few that need people in great numbers that in the next few years will not be able to afford the very places cited in the article like NY, Boston, San Fran, etc. We shall see

Anonymous said...

My neighbor knocked on my door on two different occasions to ask me to drive him over to the Cadillac dealer so he could pick up his car after repairs.

This would be a 30 minute walk but it never occured to him to walk - he didn't have the time he said. He just couldn't get his head around the concept of walking someplace "that far away".

I drove him over and it took us 20 minutes with traffic lights etc. This is California so it's not like the weather played any role and there are also sidewalks. He ended up having to wait another 15 minutes to see if they were actually done with the repairs before I took off.

It'll be a long time still before people think a 30 minute walk is "no big deal" if it ever happens at all.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I can save $100 a month in gas by not owning a car. Yet I have to pay $2500 a month in rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in San Fran or NY.

Hmmm. Thanks anyway, but I'll stick to paying the $100 for gas and renting a 2900 sq ft home for $1800 instead.

Anonymous said...

As for shopping "locally", what you really mean is paying a 25% premium for shopping at a "local" store. You save some money by not driving to the mall or Walmart or Costco. But you lose money in the fact that small mom and pop stores charge more for everything you buy. Save $10 to lose $15.

Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

I live in a town that scores a 73, honestly we hardly use our cars anymore, I walk everywhere.

I work in #3 on the walkscore list also, take the train and the subway.

Thanks to HP I saw this coming a while ago. Thanks to renting it was easy for me to make the transition earlier this year.

keith said...

The big cities aren't for me. Too much crime and noise.

I like small to medium sized towns. Boulder is the best in the US, bar none. A perfect town is a smaller walkable one that's connected to a big city by rapid transit - best of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

LOL! live without a car! Theres that spit my morning coffee out laughing humor that I come her for. Live without my car! You so crazy Keith!

vanilla ice said...

Car free cities would be even better.

Lamaria said...

Suburbs will survive, but they will go back to being exclusively upper-middle class and wealthy neighborhoods. The reasons why people avoid living in the cities, and prefer the suburbs will NEVER CHANGE.

As far as moving away from the cars, again, the reason for their popularity and *necessity* remains. Indeed, cars are a major contributor to quality of life. I'm already sorry to see their decline.

Anonymous said...

"As for shopping "locally", what you really mean is paying a 25% premium for shopping at a "local" store. You save some money by not driving to the mall or Walmart or Costco. But you lose money in the fact that small mom and pop stores charge more for everything you buy. Save $10 to lose $15.

Brilliant!

July 17, 2008 12:36 PM"

Why support a local merchant (your neighbor, mom and pop) and place tax revenues locally when you can get in your Hummer and spend time and gas to drive to and wait in a long line with all the other mexcrement to buy discount underwear that falls apart after 2 washings and large barrels of cheese doodles or chinese lead-based tothpaste?

Brilliat mentality says it all. Must be a greedy yuppie stupid asshole Californian. Correction: flag lapel-wearing patriot American.

Up against the wall. Do you want a blindfold or not?

Suburbs and SUVs are DEAD.

Anonymous said...

The problem with "walkable neighborhoods" is that it's a false solution to the problem.... The main trip that most people make the most often is to their JOB, so it would be wisest to locate near that and put up with the hassle of getting everywhere else.

...Instead of paying higher taxes for more roads or public transportation, I kinda wonder about the gov't paying people (larger) rebates to move close to their employer, and a (smaller) rebate every year for living near their employer... Maybe a rising scale: the closer you are, the more you get paid.

,,,,,If you're going to spend lots of govt funds on "transit issues", then it seems quickest and easiest to me to just pay people to move where they won't need more transit. -Slugster

vanilla ice said...

"Indeed, cars are a major contributor to quality of life. I'm already sorry to see their decline."

Yeah, they’re a major contributor to your quality of life, but you take it away from the places you drive through.

Anonymous said...

uh, the list is "most walkable neighborhoods". anyone ever live in a metropolitan neighborhood that wasn't walkable?

pretty sad that Portland is #10, but of course it is "neighborhood" not "city".

Anonymous said...

Here in NYC with rents in the five boroughs (Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island) in the $2000 per month range for studios and 1 bedrooms this is going to be impossible.
--------------------------------

well, it will be like in Japan, where only the very well to do live in the city. In japan, people live in the suburbs and work in the cities. A Japanese customer of mine said that is starting to change. companies are just starting to move to the suburbs to lower commute times and because property is so expensive in the city.

Anonymous said...

Love affair with car is over? Dude, you're smoking something potent :-)

What happens if you wanted to go out kayaking / surfing? (Sure you can rent equipments at your destination assuming your destination has rental facilities).

What if you wanted to go camping?

There are reasons to own cars (kids, hobbies, etc.), and there are further reasons to own certain types of cars (the places you want to get to are quite remote).

I don't speak for everyone of course, but for me, I have to disagree. My life (and the kids') wouldn't be the same without cars.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to spend lots of govt funds on "transit issues", then it seems quickest and easiest to me to just pay people to move where they won't need more transit
-------------------------------

ah, but that would only benefit the rich, who can afford to move and live close to their employer.

republican scum.

Anonymous said...

Suburbs and SUVs are DEAD.
--------------------------------

no, suburbs will survive just fine. they will just be clustered around mass transit lines. it will still be cheaper than living in the city.

AZDavidPhx said...

I bike practically everywhere. Work, grocery store, etc.

Can get away with going to the gas station once a month sometimes.

I seem to be in the minority though. I still see tons of SUV's and those big-me-I-am-a-gomer pickup trucks roaring down the streets.

I think that many of these buttheads would keep driving even if gas were 10.00 a gallon.

Anonymous said...

Sure buddy, I can't wait to see Oprah, Obama, Ellen Degeneres, and the rest of the $10k per handbag Hollywood crowd walking everyday to work or to $2,000 sushi diners.

It's gonna be all the sheeple under the rain while the Hollywood celebs they sponsor drive by in 8 cylinder Bentleys, coming from their 20,000 sq ft homes which destroy half Amazon to cool off or heat, and dries half of the Colorado river to irrigate.

When you cross with Madonna on the tube, say hi for me, Keith.

Anonymous said...

I have to pick a bone with that list - they had Raleigh, NC #3. I live in Raleigh, and it is entirely automotively based.

The downtown is revitalizing and improving, and it does have some good greenways, but it is still a mostly suburban region, to spread out to walk, the roads aren't bike friendly, and the mass transit is very poor.

Lamaria said...

"Yeah, they’re a major contributor to your quality of life, but you take it away from the places you drive through."

What are you talking about?

I'm in the same category as the second poster at 3:31PM. I love to travel around my beautiful, local area in FL. The beaches, the woods, you name it. What's the problem?

Anonymous said...

Best walkable city in the world is Paris, France. Whoever lived there knows what I'm talking about.

But then you have to put up with the disgusting French.

Charles said...

Where RU coming up with this car culture is dead stuff???????????

GAS powered car culture is on it's way out. Only to be replaced by Hybrids, Fully Electric, Solar and Fuel Cells.

Car culture and the layout of cities isn't going to change much. And where it does it will be to battle congestion more than anything else.

WAY off base...

Anonymous said...

Portland: paying taxes to the wazoo to support all the junkies shooting heroine in the streets...but you can walk everywhere.

Anonymous said...

For some people, driving is so ingrained they cannot conceive of any other way.

I was walking down a rural road looking for non-indigenous birds when a guy and his family pulled up in their car. He asked where my car was. I told him it was at my property a mile away. He offered his cell phone. I showed him mine. He pointed out the tow service was a few miles in the opposite direction from where I was headed. I told him I knew where the tow service was. After several volleys the guy finally asked WHY I was walking down the road. I told him I was looking for non-indigenous birds. He swore, punched the gas, and took off, kicking dust up as he went.

I thought it was kind of funny, actually...

drew said...

I'm with you, Keith. Suburbs and SUVs are for suckers. But let'em rot, for all I care. When oil's going for $300/barrel, and the penis enlargements they call houses aren't worth the powder to blow to hell, they'll wish they'd listened.

I don't drive anymore either, and I'm perfectly happy with it. No sense in battling the nut jobs on the Beltway when there's a perfectly good subway to take.

Anonymous said...

Don't fall for the urbanization myth. Having us all in compact cities only makes it easier to control us like the poor saps in London. CCTV cameras everywhere and you need a permit to kiss your own child in public.....this is no joke do your research!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Walkable is good. But you have to be able to survive your walk without being mugged, attacked, or otherwise accosted. That's one advantage of a car. You have this metal armor between you and the 'elements' of the urban jungle.

Frank@Scottsdale-Sucks.com said...

Regardless of all the "pro" and "con" arguments, many of which are valid, some of us - me included - love driving and hate mass transit.

In addition, living in a walkable/bikeable town and not owning a car really limits your lifestyle. I think it also puts people in a dangerous "living in a bubble" mentality and they eventually have no understanding of the rest of their state, country, and world outside their little bubble (which, ironically, is the exact argument the anti-suburb types use against the suburbs).

Road trips are one of my favorite things to do. Half the reason we live where we do is because we are a relatively short drive to a ton of great destinations.

I know a lot of people romanticize the whole walkable town, communal thing but it ain't for me and ain't for a lot of other people.

Frank@Scottsdale-Sucks.com said...

Why support a local merchant (your neighbor, mom and pop) and place tax revenues locally when you can get in your Hummer and spend time and gas to drive to and wait in a long line with all the other mexcrement to buy discount underwear that falls apart after 2 washings and large barrels of cheese doodles or chinese lead-based tothpaste?

Your economic ignorance is unprecedented. You go to a local merchant to buy the SAME stuff from the same wholesalers, pay sales tax to the same state, the business pays sales taxes to the same city and state, all so you can pay higher prices for the same crap.

Hey, we got us a smart one here!!!

keith said...

To Frank's point, I believe in many areas of America it's good to have a car for weekend trips. What I'm against is taking cars to work. And I'm against living 50 miles away from your job. Not only is it wasteful, it's inefficient. Think of all that wasted time in traffic that could have been spent working. Or enjoying life.

Also, I would suggest that I've been more places than most people with just my feet, my bike and public transportation. It can be done, if you choose to do it. It's making the choice that's the first step. And once you make it, if you're like me, you never look back.

Oh, some would say 'how about going out for a night - what do you do, take your bike?"

And my answer is - no, with all the money you save not having a car, call a damn limo. No DUI's either.

Container Guy said...

I have to take issues with Chicago being #4 on that list, especially with the selected neighborhoods.

The loop is safe during the day, but definitely not safe to take little kids out for a walk at night. Lincoln Park is not as bad.

The Near North is fine, and it's the only neighborhood I'd agree with as being walkable.

I lived there for nine years in the Bridgeport area (admittedly a little on the rough side, but hey, I was young and single and didn't make a lot of money) and every night there'd be gunshot. Some mornings I'd walk to take a bus and there'd be bullet casings on the street. One night on the walk home there was a makeshift memorial to some guy who was gunned down earlier in the week.

I had to run into a homeless shelter north of the Loop to avoid a shootout between gang members and the police.

Chicago ... walkable?

The Loop? Ha!

Frank@Scottsdale-Sucks.com said...

And I'm against living 50 miles away from your job. Not only is it wasteful, it's inefficient.

I agree 100% on that, I've never understood people who live really far from work and endure that kind of ridiculous commute.

All costs and pollution aside, it's a horrible quality of life. Who would choose to do that to themselves? How much of your life are you wasting away?

Frank@Scottsdale-Sucks.com said...

every night there'd be gunshot. Some mornings I'd walk to take a bus and there'd be bullet casings on the street. One night on the walk home there was a makeshift memorial to some guy who was gunned down earlier in the week.

Gee, I guess their gun ban is really working. DOPES!

Anonymous said...

Hell this is a tired subject. You try to get rid of the car and people will either use bikes or horses. What do we do with all the horseshit, or what happens when bicyclists start crashing into each other? You can't get rid of the automobile anymore than you can try to control people's personal lives. It never works.

Anonymous said...

"HP'ers know that I don't drive anymore - haven't for years."

Keith, didn't you recently rent a car for a day or two? It may have been a few months ago, but I remember reading about it.

keith said...

I stand corrected - I rented a car as it was the only way to get from A to B

Actually, it was kinda fun. Nothing against renting a car for a weekend. Nothing against taking taxis (or limos).

The point remains - walking and mass transit is the future. And once you make that change in your life, you'll know.

gwk said...

This is all just wonderful living near shopping, theater, entertainment, but most people cannot work where they live not all but most so we are left with some form of commute be it car, train, bus, bike, skates, et. so this is really a retirement story with some disposable income right?

keith said...

Never mistake "can't" with "won't"

Anonymous said...

We'll just have 300 million people living crammed into cities. Sure. Everytime you change your job, you'll have to pack up your family and move across town if you can't find one nearby. That sounds reasonable.

Lamaria said...

Keith, for most people it is definitely "can't". I would be one of those people who *can't* do that.

"And I'm against living 50 miles away from your job. Not only is it wasteful, it's inefficient. Think of all that wasted time in traffic that could have been spent working. Or enjoying life."

All of this, is your opinion. A lot of people simply can't do anything about their job being so far away. Additionally, some people enjoy their ride to and from their job. Or just anywhere.

"walking and mass transit is the future. And once you make that change in your life, you'll know."

I've tried that before, and I know that people will never accept that as the norm in america. Nor is it the future... its actually a technological, economical, and social regression. The world will close up shop as we know it.

The technology and capability for 70+MPG cars and even SUVs is there. Re: Late 80s and early 90s models with 30+MPG cars (one of which I own) We will see that, and then move into hydrogen/nuclear energy.

Anonymous said...

Safety - if concealed weapons are allowed - it will happen muggings and rapes will rise automatically-

If the fatsos get off their ass to get a Big Mac - it will happen it takes motivation

If it takes less than twice the time to replace your drive - in my area of Orlando the local news did some tests it took 2.5 hours to duplicate a 45 min commute

Tokyo Girl said...

The most cities in US don't even have a developed country quality commuter rail.
I don't consider those cities truly walkable, because people are using cars to commute and the inside of the city is not really livable unless you spend a lot for housing and school.
It was the second culture shock I had experienced in the US.
The first one was how Americans are fat. Then I felt that I was in a third world.

Anonymous said...

True, but the Oil Price Bubble collapse is coming soon...off 5 bucks today, and keep in mind it was @ 17 bucks a barrel in 1995---demand didn't go up 10x since then, not even close.

Even the worst peak oil paranoids have to agree with that.

Eventually, yes, but not til 2020 at least.

Frank@Scottsdale-Sucks.com said...

Safety - if concealed weapons are allowed - it will happen muggings and rapes will rise automatically-

Crime has dropped in every single state/county where concealed carry is allowed. Anyone who doubts this can look it up.

Or even better, spend a day in LA where concealed carry is not allowed, then drive down to Orange County where concealed carry is allowed and observe the difference. It's no accident that something like 3 of the top 5 safest cities in America are here.

tokyo-boy said...

"well, it will be like in Japan, where only the very well to do live in the city. In japan, people live in the suburbs and work in the cities."

Thing is, even the suburbs near the major cities are walkable here. It's not like in the US where there's a huge parking lot (and not much else) in front of the subway station.

Natural Eyebrows said...

Old NY joke: two guys walk out of their office building on their way to an appointment. One says "Shall we take a cab?" The other says "No, were in a hurry. Let's walk."

When I sold my car to move to Manhattan, my friend said "Now you'll always have money in your pocket." He was right. I lived on 51st St. and worked on 49th St. Tough commute. Later the company moved to 41st St. I still walked to work. Those were happy times, but I had to leave the company eventually.

It will be hard to undo the 70 year march to suburbanization, but energy economics will force changes.

TM said...

Oklahoma City made the list? WTF is the criteria?

I live in OKC... most of the streets don't even have sidewalks, for God's sake. It's also spread out like mad, with a totally inadequate bus system.

I ride my bike to work sometimes, but it's twelve miles, much of which is on two-lane roads with cars grazing your elbows.

Walkable indeed. I'd hate to see one of the cities that didn't make the list.

Lamaria said...

"Walkable indeed. I'd hate to see one of the cities that didn't make the list."

Yeah, I was noticing that all the cities I recognized on the list were actually horrible places to live. As in, I'd rather live in a box than be forced to live in one of them *as they are right now*- let alone when/if a depression hits.

Jacksonville FL was up there and it is the second largest land city on the face of the Earth. It has virtually NO mass transit system, or hope to build one. EVER. Downtown Jacksonville, being a 'downtown', is horribly poverty and crime stricken. In a depression I'd give you guys 5 minutes to live. =(

Gerbil said...

"The point remains - walking and mass transit is the future. And once you make that change in your life, you'll know."

Thank you very much. Our car culture needs to end and will end. Very few people understand this. Very few people understand how destructive and unsustainable are our car driving habits.

Anonymous said...

This is a freaking joke right keith. I am usually in good agreement of everythign you say ... but, there is a large population of people even in europe, that really dont want their neighbors right on top of them. OK It will never catch on, the biggest thing about people is not that we need other people, we need other people to be just the right distance away. Close enough to hear our screams of pain, and not close enough to hear our moans of pleasure.
Cool.
Cow_tipping.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...allow me to bring some common sense to your Obama's utopia:

1. People moved into suburbs because the cities weren't safe. Do you remember what Manhattan used to be in the 70's when the ultraliberals were running it? Do you want your kids and wife to live in a war zone full of pimps and ho's?

2. Most of you Obama bitches don't have children or are like Keith, an eternal bum who doesn't have much responsibilities during the entire day. Not everyone is a single code monkey or a playboy jet-setter either. A great majority works putting out fires all day, selling all over the place, meeting with clients, visiting suppliers, networking over lunch and events, getting the business attire from the dry cleaners, etc. Try to do all that by bus or bicycle every day.

3. If you ever have kids, you'll notice that it takes a lot of your limited time to drive them to soccer, ballet, school, dentist, swimming, martial arts, birthdays, extra-curricular activities, etc. Keep in mind that you have to do all that while putting long hours at work and running the household. Now multiply that by 2 kids.

You guys keep dreaming with a socialist USA in which everyone wears canvas uniforms and a Che Guevara beret, while riding bikes and singing to Mao-Obama.

I'll keep my car because it increases my productivity and it's a necessity to my family. Now I let you go back to your mom's basement, code-monkey cubicles, or drinking pints at London pubs. Meanwhile, some of us have to carry this country on the back to pay all your socialist taxes.

Anonymous said...

Boulder also #1 in smelly, Trustafarian punk asses!

Anonymous said...

Live on the Northside of Chicago (Andersonville.) I can walk to everything besides work (public transit.) Save $5K/ year after ins, gas, plates, maint. and no traffic or car payment ever again. I'll never look back, what the hell was I thinking driving anyway?

Anonymous said...

If you can walk or bike everywhere that's great. In my experience, however, especially when I lived in Boulder, I was always being asked for a lift by people who spent a lot of time telling me how great it was to live in Boulder where they didn't need a car. They would go on and on about how cars are so expensive and how much money they were saving by not owning one and how 'green' they were. Inevitably, I'd be hit up by these same people for a ride to bus stop when it was cold or a ride to somewhere not easily accessible by public transportation. Not *once* did they ever offer gas money.

Anonymous said...

I'll stop using my car the day Al Gore, Barry Hussein Obama, Hillary, Barbara Streisand and the rest of our esteemed liberal elites stop using theirs. In other words, I will drive for the rest of my life.

Thirdworlddeathmarch said...

I am rich. Let the peasants walk. I will always drive, and if there is no gas, I will use an electric or similar car. One of the nice aspcts of the current melt down is that I can further distance myself from the seething masses as they are sequesterd and isolated from the roads, nice neighborhoods and private schools. Social Darwinism works well when one is well educated, hard working, and successful.

Anonymous said...

One Anon wrote: If you're going to spend lots of govt funds on "transit issues", then it seems quickest and easiest to me to just pay people to move where they won't need more transit

So another Anon retorts: ...that would only benefit the rich, who can afford to move and live close to their employer.

republican scum.


That's pretty funny. People with jobs are "rich" "Republican scum."

Anonymous said...

If you're going to spend lots of govt funds on "transit issues", then it seems quickest and easiest to me to just pay people to move where they won't need more transit
-------------------------------

ah, but that would only benefit the rich, who can afford to move and live close to their employer.

republican scum.

--------------------------------

who says job centers are even in the best locations? Many jobs are in some pretty sketchy low rent areas already. So it can benefit the poor too. Can't it?

vanilla ice said...

"I know a lot of people romanticize the whole walkable town, communal thing but it ain't for me and ain't for a lot of other people."

How about you can drive to a walkable town, even a car free one? It is possible to have car free and walkable cities and be able to drive to them. It could even be another destination on your list.

Anonymous said...

Vancouver, BC, Canada.