Special Report

Ten Cities Where the Most People Walk to Work

10. Jersey City, N.J.
> Pct. walking to work: 8.5%
> Walk Score: 84.4 (2nd highest)
> Pct. households with no car: 38.7% (3rd highest)
> Population density (of metro area): 31,251.4 (the highest)

Jersey City lies on the Hudson River across from downtown New York City and is considered part of the New York City metropolitan area. The roughly 15-square mile city ranked as the second most walkable after only New York City, according to Walk Score. As of 2012, nearly 39% of households in the city did not own a car, the third highest percentage out of the 100 cities reviewed, and far lower than the 9.22% of American households overall. Many of its 254,441 residents work in New York, and it is the second largest city in New Jersey after nearby Newark.

9. Philadelphia, Pa.
> Pct. walking to work: 8.6%
> Walk Score: 76.5 (6th highest)
> Pct. households with no car: 32.6% (6th highest)
>Population density (of metro area): 7,773.2 (8th highest)

Nearly one third of households in Philadelphia did not own a car in 2012, more than just a handful of cities. Those who did not drive frequently walked to work. While only 2.9% of all American commuters walked to work, 8.6% of commuters in Philadelphia did. Philadelphia’s Walk Score of 76.5 — one of the best in the country — means that most of the residents’ errands could be accomplished on foot. The city received a score of 68.4 out of a possible 100 for its bike infrastructure, better than all but just four other cities reviewed.

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8. Honolulu, Hawaii
> Pct. walking to work: 9.0%
> Walk Score: 62.6 (19th highest)
> Pct. households with no car: 18.3% (19th highest)
> Population density (of metro area): 11,548.2 (4th highest)

Like most walkable cities, Honolulu is quite dense. Despite its relatively small population size of just 345,610 in 2012, its population density averaged more than 11,000 people per square mile in 2010, more than all but three other cities. Living in densely populated urban areas tends to discourage car ownership. More than 18% of Honolulu households did not own a car, nearly double the national rate in 2012. While the city’s Walk Score of 62.6 was not exceptionally high, its residents were still among the most likely Americans to walk to work.

7. Seattle, Wash.
> Pct. walking to work: 9.1% (tied for 6th)
> Walk Score: 70.8 (10th highest)
> Pct. households with no car: 16.7% (23rd highest)
> Population density (of metro area): 4,721.6 (24th highest)

Seattle had the ninth best Public Transit Score among all cities, according to Walk Score, which also ranked the city 10th for walkability, and 11th for bike friendliness. As a result, many residents chose to avoid driving to work. More than 9% commuted to work on foot and another 3.4% by bike, both among the highest proportions in the country. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, the city’s long-term goal is to become the nation’s most walkable city. Although the Seattle metro area is more densely populated than most cities, the population is still relatively widely dispersed in comparison to New York, Boston, San Francisco, and other large cities of similar size.

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6. Madison, Wis.
> Pct. walking to work: 9.1% (tied for 6th)
> Walk Score: 47.4 (33rd highest)
> Pct. households with no car: 13.0% (32nd highest)
> Population density (of metro area): 3,502.2 (54th highest)

With a population of slightly more than 240,000 in 2012, Madison is the smallest city with a high proportion of residents who walk to work. Compared to other cities, Madison is one of the friendliest cities to bikers. Roughly 5% of the area’s workforce biked to work, more than in any city except for Portland, Oregon. Madison was also ranked as the nation’s seventh most bike-friendly city, according to Walk Score. Likely helping the city’s bike friendliness is the city’s bike share program, B-cycle. Still, area households were not so quick to give up their cars. Just 13% of Madison households did not have a car as of 2012, lower than in any other city where so many people walk to work.

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