Walk Score Names DC the 7th Most Walkable City in the U.S.

Photo by PoPville flickr user Pablo Raw

From an email:

“Walk Score just published its most walkable cities of 2015 report. DC came in at No. 7, with an overall Walk Score of 74.1. Baltimore also made the list, coming in at No. 10 with a Walk Score of 66.2. Walkability is often tied to affordability and quality of life for a city’s residents. It’s also important in creating safe and desirable neighborhoods, which in turn attract more residents, businesses and overall development.

To calculate the rankings, Walk Score analyzed over 10 million locations and computed more than 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities. For the second year in a row, the Walk Score ranking uses the Street Smart Walk Score algorithm that incorporates walking routes, depth of choice, pedestrian friendliness, population and neighborhood data.”


33 Comment

  • The inclusion of Miami above DC completely discredits this list. Unless you live in Miami Beach (not even technically Miami) or in Brickell or the Grove and never leave your neighborhood, you absolutely need a car in Miami.

    • False. I am a native Washingtonian currently based out of Miami, and you can totally walk a crazy number of neighborhoods, including: Little Havana, Little Haiti, Design District, Wynwood, Edgewood, Downtown, etc, etc. Basically, the entire city proper is walkable, minus a few spots out near the airport and perhaps south of Brickell. I don’t own a car.

      All of those places are significantly more walkable than great swaths of DC. There is a misconception about Miami’s walkability because a) basically nobody lives near where they work; b) the cool stuff in Miami attracts people from outside the city who can’t use transit to get to where they want to go.

      There is also the fact that people who don’t live here don’t talk to people who live here (here being Miami itself) and instead talk to white people who live in Fort Lauderdale and drive an hour each way to come to Miami to party.

      • justinbc

        Miami has a very minimalist light rail system only barely touching a few neighborhoods, and the fact that it’s free means it’s completely packed with homeless people (and for some reason lots of transvestite prostitutes).

      • What good is being able to walk in your neighborhood if you can’t find a job there? Sure some individual neighborhoods are walkable, but you have to leave your neighborhood for jobs, shopping, to see anyone who doesn’t live near you, and you can rarely do that without a car or two hour bus ride. You can’t say that about DC – fairly reliable and frequent buses throughout the city and metro that gets you to your basic necessities. And in case you’re wondering, I’m not a white girl from Ft. Lauderdale – Hispanic from MIami Lakes who relied on public transportation (school bus or public bus and metro) for four years of high school in downtown Miami.

  • Miami is one of the least walkable places I have ever been. This list…is ruined.

  • epric002

    i was also suspicious of miami on here…

  • Miami is a city full of people making $30k a year driving BMWs. Driving is a recreational sport in the city.

  • Take a deep a breath and do some research: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/04/2015s-most-walkable-us-cities/389877/

    Also, take into consideration that Miami proper is only 35.68 sq mi DC proper is 68.3 sq mi. Miami proper is actually denser than DC proper. If you incorporate inner-ring suburbs, then DC is almost certainly less car-dependent than Miami.

    Go take a walk in upper NW or EOTR and you will find that many neighborhoods in this city aren’t all that walkable.

  • Looks like two factors explain how Miami could beat DC:
    1) the ranking is for Miami proper, not the Miami area. And Miami proper is small and dense — only about 35 square miles of land compared to 61 for DC.
    2) Some big parts of DC, like the national mall, are scored as “not very walkable” because they’re not close to amenities. The ranking doesn’t appear to take into account that nobody lives at the Jefferson Memorial… the better way to calculate this list would be to calculate the average walkscore of all residents, rather than the average walkscore of every location in the city.

    • I might be wrong on point 2. It might be population weighted in some fashion. Think it’s mostly just the former point, that Miami proper is small and dense.

      • No, you’re right. And as “a” said, there are neighborhoods in DC, especially EOTR, that don’t score high.

    • Miami may be dense in terms of people per square mile, but does not change the fact that nobody walks there. I know of no other city where people take such pride in cars and the perceived prestige associated with driving a “luxury” one.

      • HaileUnlikely

        “Can walk” and “does walk” are different. I grew up in a place that the current version of the Walk Score algorithm rates as a 6. (That’s out of 100, not 10). For comparison, my address, near the nexus of Takoma, Brightwood, and Shepherd Park, which many here regard as relatively “unwalkable” and “car oriented,” gets an 88. When you come from a place with a WalkScore of 6 and move to a place with a WalkScore of 88, you appreciate what walking infrastructure exists and what amenities are within what for a healthy non-elderly person are a reasonable walking distance, even if it ain’t exactly like living in a building that is literally on top of a Metro station.

        • Takoma is very walkable, anybody who says otherwise has no clue what they are talking about, and it is not at all car oriented. Brightwood and Shepherd Park may be a different story, especially the western part of Brightwood which is very isolated from metro, though it is on two good buslines. So it really depends on where you live in that area. My guess since you are saying you are on the edge, you are on or near Georgia Ave near Walter Reed. Again, this is within a half mile of the Takoma Metro and Old Takoma, and close to Silver Spring. Again Takoma is scored in the 80s because it is a walkable neighborhood, but once you get to brightwood and shepherd park the score drops, though it is dependent on the location in those neighborhoods.

          Again I think Takoma and Northern Shepherd Park strike the perfect balance. Takoma is also a relative bargain for what it is. Which is a safe walkable neighborhood with great metro access. The school could be much better, but if you have no kids, the weak school is acting as a significant discount, especially compared to shepherd park.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I agree with all of this. I have found over the years that many if not most on this forum don’t, though. Yes, I live just off of Georgia, in the part where the streets are named for various flowers and plants. Anyway, yeah, the score drops in Brightwood and Shepherd Park, but when you come from a place with a WalkScore of *6*, that all still seems plenty walkable I lived on 14th near Military for my first 10 years in DC – the score there was 77. That is a bit lower than the 88 where I live now, but in another stratosphere from the 6 where I grew up.

      • HaileUnlikely

        P.s. Been to Miami lots of times. I can buy that they rate in the same ballpark as DC on WalkScore, even though the proportion of people who actually do choose to walk there appears to be quite a bit lower.

        • The problem with DC vs. Miami is that Walkscore can’t take into account a lot of walking infrastructure. Width of sidewalks, crosswalks, streets, etc. Miami has a lot of density so there are a ton of people stacked up in buildings that are close to services, but the poor street level infrastructure makes even a 1/2 mile walk very unpalatable. DC has nice walking infrastructure but low density, so it may be a further walk to the metro but more people actually walk because it’s pleasant.
          Takoma is a good example of this. The main stretch is walkable, but the vast majority of the housing is stand alone houses. There aren’t all that many houses that are walking distance to the metro and as you approach a mile to the metro it’s not really walkable.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I think you’re inadvertently illustrating the point of how Miami can top DC. Hardly any of Miami is as walkable as Dupont Circle or Columbia Heights, but almost all of it (Miami city proper) is about as walkable as Takoma. DC has large swaths that are much much less walkable than Takoma.

      • Have you been to Dallas?!?

    • exactly. it’s honestly annoying to me that blogs and media outlets publish this stupid thing. it’s not a very well done scoring system, but it gets attention as if it were accurate simply because all the media large and small just post any number that comes across their email.

  • Having more or less lived in Boston and Miami for work for periods of 9+ months, I say they are WAY over ranked. No body lives in downtown Miami, stores shut down at 4pm in the heart of downtown. Boston also shuts down early and is a ghost town in the majority of the city at night

    • HaileUnlikely

      It doesn’t have to be perfect to be useful. Bickering about whether some city should be fourth or seventh or twelfth is probably reading more into the score than is warranted, but it can still be a very useful tool when one is, say, contemplating visiting or moving to an unfamiliar area and say, trying to figure out whether they need to rent a car, or whether or not they want to consider moving somewhere or cross it off the list, based on whether the walk score is in the 80’s or 90’s or whether it’s in the teens or 20’s.

    • Personally, I can’t believe Philly beat out DC. The SEPTA system makes no sense, and the most walkable parts are where no one lives or the Penn and Drexel campuses. I don’t know a single person who lives in Philly without a car. Philly is still definitely a walkable city, I used to love walking from the historic quarter to south st, but it’s nowhere near DC level of walkability.

  • Nah, I lived on Miami Beach and worked in Miami proper for 4 years before moving to DC. There’s no way it’s more walkable. Maybe if you’re only counting Brickell or Midtown, where everything is chunked together. There are many, many neighborhoods in Miami proper that are not particularly walkable (Overtown, Brownsville, Liberty City, Little Haiti, etc etc etc). Even if you do walk in Midtown outside of the Target complex area, you’re walking on the side of 4-6 lane high speed arteries or the highway.

  • The 2015 ranking seems to be a carbon copy of the 2014 ranking. In cities where amenities are being added/changed on the scale of months, I find the ranking hard to correlate with reality. Thanks, Walkscore, for letting us know that absolutely nothing has changed.

  • Chicago actually isn’t very walkable at all. I’m always surprised because you think it’s like a Northeastern city but in reality it’s pretty spread out beyond the core.

  • Seattle isn’t a very walkable city either. It’s hard to get from one neighborhood to another on foot. I certainly don’t think it ranks just below D.C.

  • I lived (Brickell) and worked in Miami (downtown) proper for two years before returning here. The fact that it is small and dense with rectilinear blocks means it should be walkable, but in fact it is not. Walking from one side or end of the city to the other involve crossing dangerous areas. Plus shopping for necessities other than groceries is pitiful!

  • I think some people are confused as to what the rankings really measure — which are walking routes, depth of choice, pedestrian friendliness, population and neighborhood data. For example, how many daily errands can be completed without a car; how many restaurants, bars and coffee shops can the typical resident walk to in less than 10 minutes; and so forth. The Walk score does not measure how easy it is to walk from one neighborhood to the other, or how easy it is to walk across the entire city.

  • I think the thing that hurts DC is it’s massive parks. The parks are factoring into the score, as it is not excluding them for the city wide calculation. While their are neighborhoods west of RCP which are less walkable, and east of the river is terrible, most of DC is actually walkable. It should be closer to Boston or SF than below Miami. I will take our parks though any day of the week.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I think they tried to exclude parks (and rivers, and lakes, etc) to the extent that they could with publicly available data, which was mostly but not completely successful. A look at the whole-city map shows that they excluded the really big parks (Rock Creek Park, Anacostia Park, Fort Dupont Park), but appear to have included most of the smaller ones (e.g., Meridian Hill Park and those of similar size). You can see their actual map here: https://www.walkscore.com/DC/Washington_D.C.

  • i agree with many comments here..the fact that Miami is considered more walkable than DC –when their transit system is so bad, this totally discredits the list. fail.

    • HaileUnlikely

      The transit ratings are altogether separate from the walking ratings. DC is fourth for transit, behind NYC, San Francisco, and Boston. Miami is down a lot further for transit. Note – I am not particularly fond of Miami, I just don’t have a lot of patience with people who criticize a study that sought to do “X,” and did “X” reasonably well, for not doing “Y.”

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