Skip directly to: content | search

Report - Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros

Cities across the country are abandoning the idea of sprawl and instead are embracing walkability. This report - Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros – outlines such work, ranking the 30 most walkable metro areas in the country. These walkable urban places, or WalkUPs, tend to have higher economic success, as well as more profitable rental scenarios. The author of the report, Chris Leinberger, says walkability is critical in creating a stronger urban economy, and while walkable real estate and economic development is becoming more prevalent, some areas are succeeding faster than others.

 The report examined the top 30 metro areas and ranked them based on the level of commercial development taking place. Findings showed more walkable areas as more likely to be successful; they were doing better as economic engines, were better at attracting talent and had more productive real estate.  Cities with higher walkability rankings also showed higher education levels and had higher GDP per capita.  

 People want walkability, so cities need to quickly figure out how to create it. The report outlines the forward-looking metrics used to estimate future development patterns, and thereby predict how walkable (or sprawling) future development will be.  The areas with high walkability factors are models for the future.

 The potential for success is great because of demand, but cities need support from elected officials and other developers to accomplish walkability. Currently, the most walkable metros are Washington, DC, New York City, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago.  The areas most poised for improvement – based on existing work to improve walkability – are Miami, Atlanta and Detroit.

 This report was produced in partnership with the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University School of Businesses and LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors.