Miami's Walk Score rises—could form-based coding be the reason?
The High Line in New York City
New York City clearly outpaced San Francisco as the nation's most walkable city—which is even more impressive when you consider that The Big Apple has about 10 times more people than The City by the Bay.
Meanwhile Miami, testing new urban land-use regulations, moved up in the walkability rankings.
"Miami has become more walkable over the past four years, with a 3-point Walk Score increase, likely thanks to a surge of commercial development," notes Walk Score, a Redfin Company. Miami is now number 5 on the list with a score of 75.6. Walk Score last released rankings in 2011, shortly after Miami adopted Miami 21--a form-based code (FBC) derived from the Smart Code. Miami is one of the largest jurisdictions to adopt a FBC.
A three-point increase in Walk Score should put to rest any concerns that Miami 21 or a FBC would restrain development. The population of Miami grew by more than 20,000 people from 2010, when the code was adopted, to 2013—in addition to the commercial development. FBCs regulate based on the character of a place and tend to encourage mixed use. Conventional codes are based on separation of use.
“People can now walk where they used to have to drive, especially in neighborhoods like Wynwood and the Design District where a lot of new restaurants and shopping and entertainment centers have opened up,” said Aaron Drucker, Redfin’s Miami market manager. “Even in traditionally walkable areas, like South Beach, public transportation is improving and becoming a more attractive option as parking rates and traffic are both on the rise.”
Detroit gets good news—and the city can use some. It's Walk Score rose 2.2 points—to 52.2. Among cities with more than 300,000 population, Detroit is in the middle.
“Downtown Detroit has become noticeably more walkable over the past few years thanks to Dan Gilbert’s initiative to move his company, Quicken Loans, and others from the suburbs back to the heart of the city,” said Lauren Buttazzoni, Redfin market manager in Detroit. “Following these companies has come a slew of new restaurants, locally owned shops and small businesses. It’s not just millennials but families and people of all generations who want to live near work and enjoy the action and amenities of city living. As a result, real estate in the city is in great demand, new lofts and condos are being built, and prices–in rents and sales alike–are rising. It has all been a great boon for the motor city.”
New Orleans has changed, too, as the city continues to reinvent itself following Hurricane Katrina, says Walk Score. "The city is rebuilding with walkability in mind as it develops affordable housing and revitalizes commercial districts, which may have helped the city’s Walk Score increase from 55.6 in 2011 to 56.3 today."
But New York City, which was tied with San Francisco in 2011, separated itself from the pack. “New York is clearly leading the way in walkability by reclaiming space from cars for people,” said Matt Lerner, Walk Score co-founder. “One look at Times Square shows how New York has become a leader. It’s just one example of a place that went from being a gridlocked road full of cars to a park for pedestrians.”
The top 10 cities are mostly unchanged from 2011, with Minneapolis falling out (it was number 9), replaced by Baltimore.
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. Walk Score uses the Street Smart Walk Score algorithm that incorporates walking routes, depth of choice, pedestrian friendliness, population and neighborhood data. The changes in scores between the 2011 and 2015 rankings reflect changes in methodology (Classic Walk Score vs. Street Smart Walk Score) as well as changes in the cities themselves.