How walkable are Pennsylvania metro regions? Not as walkable as you might think. A new report compares the walkability of 30 U.S. metro regions. Pittsburgh ranked 9th and Philadelphia ranked 13th. Above them were Washington D.C., New York, and Boston, among other cities.
The study defined metro regions as cities and their surrounding suburbs, excluding so-called “bedroom communities” that don’t have office or retail space. It ranked these areas by looking at walking distances to places like businesses, restaurants and schools.
The researchers found that, yes, Center City Philadelphia’s reputation for being walkable is backed up by data. Areas outside of Center City…not so much. The same is true in Pittsburgh, where most of the walkable areas are in the center of town, and not in the suburbs.
Walkability can help the local economy, according to Christopher Leinberger, a professor at George Washington University School of Business and co-author of the study.
“The market wants it, particularly the young people,” Leinberger said. “So if you don’t give it to them, they’re going someplace else.” Leinberger said walkability can be a draw for corporations, which want to hire these young people. He cited companies like Motorola and United Airlines, which have both moved their headquarters into downtown Chicago over the last several years.
The authors also predicted that Pittsburgh and Philadelphia would fall in walkability rankings in the future. The study was conducted by the George Washington University School of Business and LOCUS, a national network of real estate developers that advocates for walkable urban development.