Investors looking to find highly desirable rental properties should pay attention to things like “Walk Score.” More and more tenants are looking to live in areas that allow them the freedom of traveling around the city without the use of a car. Wondering which cities are the most friendly to non-car owners? Below is a list of the top ten cities in America in terms of convenience for non-car transportation. For more, continue reading the following article from TheStreet.
Can you get a haircut, grab groceries and pick up a pizza without starting an engine? Congratulations, you live in a convenient city.
Neighborhood ranking site Walk Score says a convenient town should have a main street or public space at its center, enough people to keep public transit running frequently and a mix of housing and businesses, lots of parks and other spaces. It should also kick in some amenities designed around pedestrians, schools, workplaces and “complete streets” (read: no cul-de-sacs) designed for pedestrians, cyclists and transit.
A city that’s walkable and easily accessible by public transportation with jobs, schools, hospitals, groceries, entertainment and other amenities within striking distance tends to draw more interest from tenants and potential homebuyers. It’s a big reason real estate firms such as Zillow and Trulia factor Walk Score’s walking, biking and transit ratings into their listings.
We took a look at Walk Score’s latest batch of ratings and used the average scores of the biggest cities featured on the site to find the most convenient cities in America. If you’re living and working here, a car may be more of a luxury than a necessity:
10. Portland, Ore.
Walk score: 66.3
Transit score: 50
Bike score: 70
This is a town so obsessed with alternative transportation that landlords consider bike storage as big of an amenity as closet space and even do away with the occasional indoor parking space to make more of it. The city’s fringes can be a bit far-flung, but neighborhoods within the Free Rail Zone have it pretty sweet, with free streetcar transportation just about anywhere they want to go. The commuter rail and expanding MAX light rail lines do a lot of the heavy lifting as well, but pedals power a lot of Portland’s everyday transportation.
Walk score: 72.5
Transit score: 57
Bike score: N/A
Even though its densest neighborhoods are more sprawling than those in Minneapolis, only about 1% of the population lives in car-dependent neighborhoods. The weather’s a lot nicer here and allows people to actually walk the city for much of the year, but the subway systems, bus system that functions like light rail along the Miami-Dade busway and free elevated Metromover that serves Downtown, Brickell, Park West and Omni all provide great access to the city.
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Walk score: 73.7
Transit score: 59
Bike score: 64
Don’t tell Portland that Seattle’s more walkable and has better transit. Its rival to the north already had the most expansive ferry system in the country, but improvements to light rail and buses coupled with dense neighborhoods in Pioneer Square, Belltown, Ballard, Freemont and the University district are making Seattle a whole lot easier to navigate. Though the bike access pales in comparison with Portland, it’s still not a bad way to get around the city or trek out to the ‘burbs on the Burke-Gilman trail.
Walk score: 74.3
Transit score: 65
Bike score: 62
It can still be a nightmare for cyclists squeezed by traffic and stuck on large roadways, but Chicago’s broad sidewalks and public transit options are a draw for would-be city dwellers. The neighborhoods near Lake Michigan are packed with enough amenities to make them easily car free, but the Chicago Transit Authority’s bus and subway system carries more than 500 million riders a year and is perhaps the biggest argument for keeping the car at home. Not all Chicagoans have it so easy; 4% of residents in the extreme west and south of the city still need a car to get anywhere.
6. Washington, D.C.
Walk score: 73.2
Transit score: 69
Bike score: 65
It’s still a labyrinth for poor puzzled drivers and cyclists, but D.C. residents in Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Downtown, Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon Square or the U Street Corridor have just about everything they need within walking distance. The Metro’s buses and subways chip in by taking more than 409 million riders off the road, but the city’s park space and long streets and blocks meant to draw people into its center make it pedestrian-friendly by design.
Walk score: 74.1
Transit score: 68
Bike score: N/A
The city’s most walkable neighborhoods in Center City, the Old City and along the riverfront near Penn’s Landing are some of the easiest to navigate in the country, but in this town they’re pretty much the standard. Except for the extreme northeast, southwest and northwest corners of the city, about 95% of the city is accessible easily by means other than a car. Just don’t let its sweet transit score convince you that tons of folks actually ride it. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority’s bus, subway, light rail and commuter rail services handles more than 300 passengers a year, but that’s still less than the ridership of Boston’s transit system that covers a city nearly one-third Philadelphia’s size and a greater metro area with about 1.5 million fewer people.
Walk score: 79.2
Transit score: 74
Bike score: 68
This city was built on density, mostly because it needed to be. Its first transit was drawn by animals, and putting vast tracts of space between points A and B wouldn’t help anyone. Today the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End and Fenway are among the easiest neighborhoods to walk in the country. Boston and surrounding areas such as Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline have also made an effort to improve bike infrastructure by adding bike lanes and racks. Though it’s deeply in debt and seems to run solely on local complaints and vitriol, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s subway, bus, light rail and commuter rail system still carries just under 400 million riders a year. That includes 150 million on a subway that’s had portions running since 1897, making it the oldest in America.
Walk score: 69.3
Transit score: N/A
Bike score: 79
The city’s far more dense and walkable than its twin St. Paul and gives residents near the Target(TGT) Center, Loring Park and Metropolitan State University a lot of reasons to keep the car at home. The city’s grid layout of short blocks, multiple parks and lakes, long stretches of riverfront and ample public transportation helps, but so does a tremendous commitment to biking infrastructure by a town that spends half the year fending off cold and snow. Once the sun’s out, Minneapolis becomes a cyclist’s dream.
2. New York
Walk score: 85.3
Transit score: 81
Bike score: 62
The tightly packed neighborhoods and renowned bus and subway system make New York the best walking and transit city in the country, but there’s still something holding it back. Anyone who’s attacked its streets with a bicycle and engaged in an us-vs.-them race for their lives knows exactly what that something is. New York is easy to get around, but can be downright nightmarish for all but the most hardened cyclists. Improved trails along the waterways and added bike lanes help somewhat, but the city’s very nature means those lanes are still flooded with delivery trucks, cabs and double-parked cars. A Metrocard and a decent pair of shoes will get you anywhere, but it’s little wonder that the bike in Jerry’s apartment on Seinfeld spent nine seasons on a hook instead of on a backlot street.
1. San Francisco
Walk score: 84.9
Transit score: 80
Bike score: 70
San Francisco’s layout is so easy to navigate without a car simply because the city’s planners have had little use for them. Cars weren’t around when it was incorporated in 1850 or when it was rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake. While the rest of the country was soaking up drive-ins, drive-thrus and gas during the 1950s, San Francisco protesters were busy stopping freeways from running through town. Seventeen of its neighborhoods rank among the most walkable in the country, while most of those that aren’t are accessible via Bay Area Rapid Transit or the San Francisco Municipal Railway. Plus, when you’re so close to Berkeley, some of the bike culture just tends to rub off.
This article was republished with permission from TheStreet.