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Chicago One Of The Top Five Most Walkable Cities In U.S. (For Now)

By Jon Graef in News on Jun 21, 2014 6:00PM

While we knew Chicago was one of the safest cities in the U.S. for pedestrians, it's always good to have further confirmation of the Windy City's walkability. To that end, CBS News points to a study by Smart Growth America which looked at the 30 most walkable cities in these United States. (Smart Growth, incidentally, were the folks behind the study saying Chicago was one of the safest for pedestrians.)

Here's some background on the report, via Smart Growth:

This report, conducted by LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, a coalition of Smart Growth America, in conjunction with The George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate & Urban Analysis, identifies each metro’s WalkUPs and ranks the top 30 U.S. metropolitan areas based on their current and future commercial real estate metrics.

The report is an updated version of a 2007 survey by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, which compared the economic performance of metropolitan areas’ walkable urban places to their drivable sub-urban counterparts, based on selected commercial real estate metrics. This report will show who’s winning, who’s in transition, and who’s lagging behind in the race towards capturing the market demand for WalkUPs.

CBS notes, "Researchers then tried to predict how these areas would grow in the future by looking at trend lines and pricing premiums in rent space, which indicate demand level." So, basically, by looking at where certain cities real estate trends are heading, Smart Growth determined how walkable cities like Chicago are currently, and how they'll rank in the future. (After all, a certain type of person moves to the city precisely because they can walk around more.)

By these metrics, Chicago proper is looking quite good, ranking 5th on a list of 30.


[Chicago] only ranked No. 5, a surprise to the researchers, considering the city's myriad of non-vehicular transportation options: The El, the Metra, the sprawling CTA and Pace bus systems and its recently introduced bicycle-sharing service Divvy. Like other cities on the list, Chicago's suburban sprawl drove its lower-than-expected ranking. While researchers called out the notable exceptions -- Evanston and Oak Park -- most of the city's massive metropolitan area is not walkable at all.

Chicago's suburban walkability problem is set to get worse, causing it to fall to No. 15 in the future.

According to the study's metrics, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York City are more walkable than Chicago.

Get your act together, Chicago suburbs! Otherwise, we'll have to start looking for parking spaces in your backyard.