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Columbus Ranks #27 in Walkability in 2014 Walk Score Results

Walker Evans Walker Evans Columbus Ranks #27 in Walkability in 2014 Walk Score Results
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WalkScore.com, the internet’s most popular site for determining the walkability of urban places, released their annual rankings this week to showcase the most pedestrian friendly cities across the United States for 2014. There were few surprises at the top of the list, which includes (in order) New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, DC, Seattle, Oakland and Baltimore.

Columbus falls further down the list, placing in at #27 out of large cities with an average city-wide walk score of 40 (out of 100). Despite recent biking and pedestrian infrastructure upgrades, this placement is exactly the same as when we first took a look at these scores back in 2008. Which begs the question… does proper infrastructure lead to improved walkability, or is dense private development required before the score is raised?

Many nationally published articles and research papers are indicating that most americans want dense walkable neighborhoods rather than large McMansion houses. Author Jeff Speck takes this a step further and claims that walkability solves most of America’s major issues, including those related to health, the environment and economic vibrancy.

While Downtown Columbus is growing denser at a rapid pace, is the rest of the city destined to remain car-centric as mixed-use multi-story development on High Street is rejected in favor of single-story buildings? Are our own suburbs leading the walkability charge with massive walkable developments like the Bridge Street Corridor in Dublin? Currently, the most walkable neighborhoods in Columbus include the University District, Downtown, Italian Village, Weinland Park, Victorian Village, German Village and Brewery District, all with walkscores over 75. Does the rest of the city of Columbus deserve the same quality of life for residents?

For more discussion on walkability, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

For more info on the Columbus WalkScore, visit www.walkscore.com/OH/Columbus.

Photo by Alex Silbajoris.

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  • Columbusrules

    I am a Westgate resident. When we bought our house in 2007, (just off of Broad St.) I was really hopeful of possible plans for W. Broad street redevelopment. Market crashed in 2008, and stopped all of those conversations. Some of those ideas appear to be re-emerging. I am hopeful that it will come together before too long, but am skeptical that major walkability will come to W. Broad St. in the hilltop anytime soon.

  • There are certainly some walkable hot spots and plenty of places with a lot of potential.

    I think the biggest problem is that out of the gigantic 212 square miles that make up Columbus, the vast majority is suburban by design with little hopes for major changes anytime soon. The sad irony is that many of those suburban car-centric areas are home to areas of lower income levels where not everyone can afford a car to drive everywhere they need to go. Many of the most walkable areas are also the most expensive places to live (with a few exceptions).

    This needs fixed.

  • As downtown becomes more populated and development continues congestion will naturally increase… This is when walking will become more of a necessity vs convenience. My prediction is within the next year or so we will be moving up on the list.

  • That curb ramp doesn’t look so good. Seems like it is just directing people out into the middle of the intersection with no receiving ramp.

  • RedStorm

    Not all that surprised. There are small “pockets” that are walkable, but I think the introduction of CoGo and car2go show that the city as a whole isn’t kind for pedestrian-only traffic. How many people are really within walking distance of say, Nationwide Arena and the LC Pavilion – places that attract thousands of people for events? Not too many, which is why the CoGo stations there make sense. There’s also some terrible corridors of bridges that really segment parts of the city.

    I’m not sure a whole lot can be done. It’s just the layout of things. The outerbelt as well as 670/71/70 make it pretty easy to get anywhere by car in about 20 minutes (depending on traffic). There are great areas – Short North, Arena District, German Village, etc. but almost none of those are within walking distance of each other (I’m using roughly a mile as a reference – this distance typically would increase in the summer and decrease with colder, wetter weather).

    But really, outside of car2go’s “home section” (for lack of better geography), it will be impossible to improve walking scores I think. There are some improvements that can be made in that area, and that’s where the focus should start.

  • somebuckeye

    Many of the most walkable areas are also the most expensive places to live (with a few exceptions).

    Clearly, the walkable streets are nicer and more pleasant. Isn’t Grandview ave more pleasant than Sawmill rd? E Main st more than Brice rd? E Gay st more than Morse rd?

    I think the good news is that some currently viable communities (like Dublin) can make an attempt to “fix” their unwalkable, unsustainable design. And there are still some affordable walkable commercial strips (Like W Broad in the Hilltop).
    But yes, most of Columbus is not like this. Areas like Northland, Whitehall, the SW side… are headed for pittsville. Nobody is going to be reinvesting in yesterday’s sprawl. The supply of traditional urban neighborhoods in Columbus is finite. If our local economy and population continue to grow, supply and demand will raise the prices even further.

  • Geno99

    “…does proper infrastructure lead to improved walkability, or is dense private development required before the score is raised?” I’d say you have to have someplace to walk to within walking distance or infrastructure is pointless.

  • @Geno99 – Sounds like we’ve got a chicken-vs-egg conundrum then, because one could also argue that development (“someplace to walk”) isn’t going to happen without infrastructure investments.

  • djr

    Columbus had a “safewalks” program, if it’s still in existence – that would be part of Transportation Dept Mobility Options. I was a stakeholder on MORPC committee years ago when city of Columbus was establishing criteria on how to evaluate, measure, score any needed area for sidewalk infrastructure. All should recognize some challenges & history. Columbus city zoning/building codes never required new development to install sidewalks. City council finally mandated such in the 1990’s. Our city only has about 50% sidewalk existing coverage. Columbus corporate jurisdiction covers one of the largest geographic land areas than most other US cities. As a result of such sprawl along with convenient roadway/highways we’ve become car-centric and reliant upon school busing systems. At least federal ‘Safe routes to school’ program is helping to slowly fund some sidewalks located immediately around schools. IMHO we should be flexible to allow asphalt which is usually cheaper, quicker, easier to construct & repair than concrete.

  • JB05

    @DJR I think they are becoming more flexible with using asphalt. Henderson Road in NW Columbus saw a Shared Use Path installed on its’ north side about a year ago. It’s a good way to take care of both pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure at the same time, IMO, and probably pretty cheap too. Though I’m not sure about asphalt’s longevity.

  • djr

    Yes JB05 a 10′ wide “side path” is traditionally justifiable for asphalt application, plus such can also be counted as multi-use trail…legal for bicycle usage in Columbus. Metro Parks also installed similar treatments along Hines & Tussing roads. In addition I would like to see asphalt pavement be allowed by CBus for the hundreds of miles of needed missing sidewalks – typically 4′ to 6′ wide sections.

  • JMan

    As usual, Columbus is showing itself for what it is- mediocre at best. Of course, if you’re from a town of a few thousand, then Columbus looks pretty good. Or, if it were during the middle ages, Columbus would be the most advanced city on earth.

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