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D.C. among top 10 most walkable cities

Monday - 8/8/2011, 9:53am  ET

WASHINGTON -- D.C. makes the cut as one of America's top ten most walkable cities, according to new list that ranks walkability in cities nationwide.

Walk Score rates convenience and transit access by a point system from 1 to 100 in 2,500 cities across the country. D.C., coming in at 73.2 on the scale, was ranked the 7th most walkable city after New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle.

The high score comes with added benefits, Walk Score says. Folks who live in highly walkable places weigh an average of seven pounds less than those who don't. Added, property values are higher in such places. Walk Score says one point on its scale is equal to $3,000 of added property value.

The rankings are based on an algorithm that measures the ease of a car-free lifestyle in various cities. It awards points based on the distance to amenities from homes and public transportation routes. The closer the amenities, the higher the score.

The service says the best walkable neighborhoods have a center, such as a main street or a public space. They have enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently. Plus, they have affordable housing near businesses, plenty of public gathering spaces and streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians and cars.

With its ranking, D.C. falls into Walk Score's "very walkable" category, the second highest. There were no cities ranked in the top category, "walkers paradise," which requires a score between 90 and 100. New York City, the top ranked city, scored 85.3.

Baltimore came in 14th, between Portland and Denver.

D.C.'s parks and long blocks draw people into its center making it pedestrian friendly by design, says Walk Score. Metro's effectiveness added to the city's score.

Still, 20 percent of Washingtonians live in neighborhoods where they need cars to get around.

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