Recent studies show people are growing to demand more compact, walkable communities
A survey from the Rockefeller Foundation found that more than half of millenials and 46 percent of baby boomers want to live somewhere where they can be less reliant on a car to get their daily errands done. Another report from the Urban Land Institute found that 50 percent of people said walkability was either a high priority or the top priority when choosing where to live.
So where does Columbus stand on walkability? Not too well, according to an analysis from Walk Score.
Walk Score is an organization that uses Census data, Open Street Map and other resources to assign a numerical grade for the walkability of a city. It uses population data, block length, intersection density, and average time to walk between different amenities into account and then scores an area out of 100.
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Columbus’ overall score is a 26, making it a “car-dependent city.” That’s worse than Macon (31) , LaGrange (27) and Atlanta (49), but still better than Augusta (22), Opelika (17) and Americus (25).
Some areas fare better than others. The zip-code that includes the UpTown district scores a 58, “Somewhat Walkable.” The area around Weracoba Park gets a 46, and some areas of South Columbus score in the 50s.
Logan Kipp, a transportation planner for the Columbus Planning Department, said that he does pay attention to Walk Score numbers, but that he doesn’t think they’re especially accurate.
“It doesn’t take into account whether there are sidewalks, crosswalks, or if there’s a stoplight or beacon. Really, it only takes into account how many intersections there are,” he said.
“But we do pay attention to it, and we try to raise that score when we can. A lot of the time, what we do is focus more on safety, so if there’s a safety issue, that takes precedence over walkability.”
For what it’s worth, Columbus’ score has risen two points over the last few years as new development has sprouted throughout the metro area. The city, aided by groups like Bicycle Columbus, The Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley, and the River Valley Regional Commission, has also been pursuing new projects to enhance pedestrian infrastructure, such as around the civic commons area of Spur 22 and the development of the Dragonfly Trail Network.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE