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New data from Walk Score suggest Detroit's walkability is on the rise

Detroit pedestrians

 
"Walkability," or how conducive a specific place is to walking, is an increasingly popular metric for the urban appeal of a city or neighborhood. Since its inception in 2007, Walk Score has emerged as the leading calculator of walkability in cities around the world.
 
Walk Score's methodology is simple: "For each address, Walk Score analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category…Walk Score also measures pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density."
 
Walk Score just released its rankings of America's most walkable cities. The list contained good news for Motor City pedestrians: Detroit's Walk Score is now 52.2, up 2.2 points since 2011. The Redfin real estate blog attributes this increase to significant investment in downtown real estate:
 
"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," says Lauren Buttazzoni, Redfin market manager in Detroit. "Following these companies has come a slew of new restaurants, locally owned shops and small businesses."
 
But how does Detroit stack up in comparison to other major American cities when it comes to walkability? Well, that depends how you look at it.
 
According to Walk Score, "Detroit is the 18th most walkable large city in the U.S." When compared to America's most densely populated cities like New York (Walk Score of 87.6), San Francisco (83.9), Boston (79.5), and Philadelphia (76.5), Detroit's walkability doesn't look so hot. But when you look at Detroit in comparison to cities of similar size and of similar character, things start to look a lot better.
 

 
Compared to cities of similar population (600,000-800,000 residents), Detroit is quite walkable (excluding coastal outliers like Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., of course). Take that, Austin and Columbus!
 
Despite a favorable Walk Score when compared to cities of similar size, Detroit has a lot of work to do to become as walkable as regional neighbors like Chicago (Walk Score of 74.8), Milwaukee (59.4), and even Cleveland (56.8).
 
According to Walk Score, Detroit's most walkable neighborhoods are located in the greater downtown area. Click here for a list.
 
Read more about walkability in U.S. cities on Walk Score's website.

Read more articles by Matthew Lewis.

Matthew Lewis is a writer and former managing editor of Model D. He's currently the communications officer for the New Economy Initiative. 
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