An article about great pedestrian places in the U.S. and the local Minneapolis angle from Steve Berg.
What makes a city a good place to walk?
Bikeability? Excellent. No. 2 in the country.
Walkability? Not so good. No. 17 among the 30 top metro areas. Down among St. Louis, Detroit and Houston. That hurts. Even Atlanta, the least pedestrian-friendly city I can imagine, came in three spots ahead of us. And the cities that Minneapolis-St. Paul likes to emulate — Denver, Portland and Seattle — all finished in the top 10, at Nos. 4, 5 and 6.
These results are part of a Brookings Institution report released Tuesday called “Footloose and Fancy Free: A Field Survey of Walkable Urban Places in the Top 30 U.S. Metropolitan Areas.” Christopher Leinberger, the Brookings researcher, found 157 such places, but only two in the Twin Cities that qualified: the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul. By Leinberger’s reckoning, then, the Twin Cities’ walkability ratio is one walkable district for every 1.6 million residents.
The whole metro region has an impressive trail system that promotes recreational walking and hiking. But that’s not the point. The point is finding urban places where walking becomes part of the fabric of everyday life: walking to the coffee shop in the morning, walking to the movies, the grocery store, the laundry, the park, the transit stop, and so on. Leinberger’s point is to highlight places where driving can be reduced in the course of everyday life.
Why? Because those kinds of places help mitigate climate change, help reduce dependence on unstable supplies and prices of oil, and help people live more active, healthy lives.