Walkable Urban Places Gain on Suburbs

Foot Traffic Ahead
GW researchers say transportation savings and increased job opportunities have made urban centers in the 30 largest U.S. metro areas more equitable for low-income earners.
June 21, 2016
For the first time since cars, quieter streets and spacious homes lured people out of city centers and into suburban towns, people are moving back downtown and demand for mixed-use space is growing, a George Washington University researcher has found.
A new report, “Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros,” studied walkable urbanism in the 30 largest U.S. metro areas. The research concluded that for the first time in possibly 60 years, office, retail and multi-family occupied rental space has a greater market share than drivable suburbs.
“This is a sea change in how we invest 35 percent of our wealth,” said Christopher Leinberger, the Charles Bendit Distinguished Scholar and Research Professor and Chair of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business.
Mr. Leinberger published the research with Director of Research for Smart Growth America Michael Rodriguez.
The six metro areas with the most walkable urban space are: New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle.
Suburban areas have the best opportunity to expand walkability and meet the growing demand, the research shows. The Washington, D.C., metro area is a model example, with 47 percent of walkable urban square footage in the suburbs compared to 53 percent in the city center.