The Score (part one)

This is the first of a 3 part series focusing on the walkable population of Columbus: What it is, how to improve it, and how it relates to transit.

We’ve all heard this argument: “Columbus is a car city” and in many ways the argument is correct. In a proactive mission to ensure growth in the second half of the 20th Century city leader’s annexed vast swaths of land which was developed into mostly car dependent neighborhoods. This has led to Columbus’ current situation, being both the geographic and population leader in Ohio, while maintaining its place as the 3rd Largest metro in our state (for the next few years anyway).

All this annexation and sprawling development may give the impression therefore that we’re a car city. For around 500,000 Columbusites who live in car dependent areas it’s true. For the nearly 233,000 of us who do live in walkable areas life is much less car centric. Though the City of Columbus itself contains more car dependent residents than the other 2Cs the amount of walkable residents also compares favorably with both Cincy (around 80,000 more) and Cleveland (around 80,000 less) as well as other comparable cities (the cities below are the same ones from the Benchmarking Columbus report found here).

**City

Total Walkable

Very Walkable

Somewhat Walkable

Rank

Portland

492369

216963

275406

1

Milwaukee

416082

200920

215162

2

Cleveland

313638

52831

260807

3

Minneapolis

313429

149728

163701

4

Columbus

232751

90611

142140

5

Austin

202682

65539

137143

6

Cincinnati

145569

42944

102625

7

Kansas City

138710

81213

57497

8

Louisville

124610

33623

90987

9

Jacksonville

79269

6373

72896

10

Nashville

44134

5898

38236

11

Charlotte

43449

16959

26490

12

Raleigh

27097

6431

20666

13

Indianpolis

21445

5289

16156

14

What do these numbers and stats tell us? They tell us that Columbus is doing well in terms of cultivating residents in walkable neighborhoods but also that we have much room to grow. All the cities above us (Portland, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Minneapolis) are known for their urbanity or livability. Columbus should focus on improving walkability in marginally walkable neighborhoods, going the extra mile where the walkable population is concentrated and should encourage population gains in established walkable areas. We need to lead on this issue so that we can be an example to the rest of the country, rather than a follower.

Some of the walking friendly changes to our neighborhoods are simple. Some are complex and time consuming. All are worth the time and investment. Improving walkability isn’t about forcing folks out of their cars but rather giving everyone an option. It’s no coincidence that most of the top neighborhoods for walkability are also some of the most expensive neighborhoods in Columbus (check out the full list here). Walkability is desirable. Even if most of your trips are accomplished by driving, having the option to walk is still important. Let’s extend that option to more of our friends and neighbors. Check back on soon to see how we can do that.

**Data above is derived from Walkscore.com. To view the full data for Columbus and all the cities included please click here.