New York Less Walkable than DC?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New York came in second, behind Washington DC, in a recent ranking of walkability -- because NYC's suburbs are less walkable. Call and share your stories of trying to walk around the tri-state suburbs.

Comments [33]

NYYANKEE from New York

IDK about this ranking. The DC suburbs are pretty sprawly. The five boroughs and inner suburbs are definitely more walkable than the DC+metro. The outskirts not so much.

One of the biggest reasons why NYC is so walkable is the amount of first floor commercial businesses. DC has many more straight residential areas with limited amenities comparatively.

Jun. 23 2014 02:46 PM
Freddy Snyders from Riverdale NY

This is all stupid. This City was not designed for walking. Try walking from Haarlem to Battery Park. The subway system is also dirty and stinks and often dangerous and in the summer it is hell down there.This is all so silly.
I usually drive to the upper west side (73rd up to 82nd) Streets and park my car and then I walk to my distinations within a 2 to 3 mile radius.

Jun. 23 2014 06:59 AM
Victor from Bronx

This is so ridiculous. D.C is a terrible walking city unless you're talking about Georgetown. Everything is really far apart and much of the city is a ghost town on weekends.

Jun. 20 2014 06:12 PM

Lucy - I can take you to places in DC just as filthy as LES

Jun. 20 2014 06:10 PM

Tai - ummmm no DC is NOT more walkable than NYC... It's the suburbs of DC that makes the METRO AREA more walkable. Big difference.

Jun. 20 2014 06:08 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

Perhaps the reason why NYC isn't as walkable as DC is could be the fact that it's the most dense city in the world. By being such, space is very limited for much, and the sidewalks always seem very packed. Another problem is that the infrastructure can barely keep up with the population and building a lot bigger doesn't always seem it to make it better but rather worse. In reality, this is causing an overflow to a system that is already beyond capacity. Honestly, I don't see how placing the suburbs in terms of walkable really mean anything when it should really be about the cities themselves, plus NYC still ranks pretty high despite these issues compared to a lot of others.

Jun. 20 2014 03:39 PM
Martin O from Flushing, NY

I took a look at the methodology of the study upon which all of this discussion is based and it is severely limited by the fact that it only takes into account office and retail real estate. Residential real estate is totally left out; therefore one must assume that residential neighborhoods are irrelevant to the conclusions of the study.

Based upon actual pedestrian experience of the top three cities, Washington, New York and Boston, I would rank them in inverse order with Boston being the most walkable because of its compact nature and Washington the least walkable because of its hilly terrain and distances. These factors are not even considered by the study. Instead arbitrary measurements are used to come up with the tables and conclusions.

In reality, what constitutes walkability is a highly subjective judgment not susceptible of reduction to formulas. I could go on and on about this but will leave it at that.

Jun. 20 2014 01:52 PM
Harvey Wachtel from Kew Gardens

The traffic signals in Manhattan are timed very badly for pedestrians. If you're walking in the direction of traffic you need to maintain 3-1/2 mph. On two-way (synchronously signaled, e.g. Park Avenue) streets it's 4 mph. Against traffic it's an impossible 4-1/2. Otherwise you usually just miss the light at every corner. The only prevention for insanity on a long walk is jaywalking: you sneak across one intersection and you get a freebie on the next before falling back into the bad pattern.

Jun. 20 2014 12:47 PM
Harvey Wachtel from Kew Gardens

Last winter's snowstorm left our car buried in a snowdrift for two weeks. During that period my wife and I discovered all sorts of exotic bus routes and managed our life quite well.

Until one Saturday we needed to get to the Macy*s furniture store in Carle Place. We walked several blocks through our residential neighborhood to the Q54 bus and then several blocks in Jamaica to the 165th Street Bus Terminal. We boarded an n22 or n24 bus to the corner of Glen Cove Road and Old Country Road, a short block from our destination. Everything was going smoothly.

Here we found the sidewalks buried under snowdrifts, a week after the storm. The button to operate the WALK signal to cross this dangerous intersection was on a post buried inaccessibly in the drifts. We had to dodge across through traffic and complete our trip by walking in the roadway of Glen Cove Road. Covering this short distance was harder than the rest of the trip combined. I don't think there are any people in Nassau County, only drivers and their passengers.

Jun. 20 2014 12:42 PM
Joan from NYC

Ridiculous! NYC trumps DC. DC is a beautiful city, but the serious walker is continually stopped by long, long waits at streetlights and having to go around interstate highways which interrupt the streets. NYC is the #1 walkable city!

Jun. 20 2014 10:32 AM
Margaret from Queens

As a New Yorker in DC for the summer, all I have to contribute is that DC pedestrians have right of way and drivers are much less aggressive. If you look like you are even thinking about crossing a street with no traffic signal, drivers stop for you and motion for you to cross.

Jun. 20 2014 09:53 AM
Rich Gawron from NY, NY

How did Savannah Georgia not even make the list?

Jun. 20 2014 09:44 AM
art525 from Park Slope

Larry from Brooklyn- I think the increased presence of bikes is one of the obstacles to walking in NYC. I feel that bikers (who don't respect any traffic rules) and people who walk around with their noses stuffed in their phones have had a real impact on quality of life in NYC.

Jun. 19 2014 02:03 PM
Henry from Katonah

Re: Larry's 8:39 AM comment
I would be interested to know which Brkyn neighborhood Larry lives in. When he says cars rule in NYC, it is time to briefly acknoledge a positive Bloomberg policy. I walk in midtown so I noticed that when Bloomberg came in , he stopped the Guliani policy of putting fences at certain pedestrian crossings. Talk about being pro-car, that said volumes about Rudy's wider ambitions.
Also Bloomberg rode the subway, he didn't walk to the station - - but he didn't have to do that.

Jun. 19 2014 12:15 PM
Mary from Fort Greene

Yo, Brian! I can't believe you guys didn't play the Missing Persons song "Walking in LA!"

Jun. 19 2014 12:01 PM
Henry from Katonah

NY suburbs - I have lived in 3 Westchester county towns - White Plains, Harrison , and now Katonah. I moved out of Brooklyn in 1991. I do not and have never had a drivers license and all 3 towns above had Metro North stations that were 10 minutes walk from my then-homes.
Getting to work in Manhattan has never been a problem for me. I was laid off for a period in 2002-3 and the unemployment office insisted that I go to Peekskill.

Jun. 19 2014 11:58 AM
Michael Wenyon from Jackson Heights

Why can't we have more wide sidewalks in New York? OK, don't pedestrianise the whole street, but only Fifth Avenue has nice wide sidewalks. Could we just lose a lane on some other avenues and streets to give more room for pedestrians?

Also the synchronization of lights on Fifth Ave seems to go against pedestrians: every time you get to the end of a block the light changes from green to red. Why is that?

Jun. 19 2014 11:58 AM
Deb from NYC

Well, you MUST walk in Philly, 'cuz the mass transit system is so meagre. At least last I checked.

Jun. 19 2014 11:58 AM
Sean from Brooklyn

Brian word you are looking for in Minneapolis is Skyways. Made famous by great song by Replacements "Skyway"

Jun. 19 2014 11:57 AM
Warren, NJ -- NOT

Warren Township, NJ was recently named one of the best towns to live in in the USA (google it).

No downtown at all!

(just a few pavement minimalls that look like the spawns of corruption.

Jun. 19 2014 11:56 AM
Lucy from LES

A little more civic pride and respect: less trash and honking cars. The amount of trash in this city is out of control, especially in the LES where I live.

Jun. 19 2014 11:53 AM
Jane from Queens

Walkability is possible because of good public transportation, i.e. no cars lead to walking

Jun. 19 2014 11:52 AM
khadija Boyd from Brooklyn

Well, let me think! Anywhere in Morocco, Paris, Roma, Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, San Francisco, WashDC, Montreal

Jun. 19 2014 11:52 AM
Rebekka Taubman from Los Angeles

I have lived in Los Angeles for over twenty years now. Lived my early years in New York.

The areas of the city are very walkable now. The issue is getting between the parts that cars have ruled. However, Metro is making great leaps so now I use buses and trains between areas.

Jun. 19 2014 11:52 AM
Simon from Manhattan

One thing I loved about small towns in Italy was the idea of a town square. Would love to see small resting areas every ten blocks or so for a neighborhood to gather.

Jun. 19 2014 11:51 AM
Zita from Manhattan

DC shurely has wider sidewalks and less foot traffic. Also the public transportation is pretty go so you don't need a car. So that's a big criteria.

Jun. 19 2014 11:49 AM
Priya from Brooklyn

DC does have its virtues and the sidewalks are nice and wide. But the design of the city's "grid" offsets that benefit, the streets veer off at a diagonal. So while you're walking in a line you end up in a totally different direction than you may have intended. Also those traffic circles are a monster to maneuver through, defensive planning indeed! It takes forever to get around them on foot.

Jun. 19 2014 10:24 AM
Roy Zornow from East Village

If you have any type of mobility issue (I recently broke an ankle) New York becomes unwalkable. Inconsistent curb cuts, rampant construction, and crowds make it difficult. And just try to navigate the subway system on crutches or a cane.

Jun. 19 2014 10:10 AM
antonio from baySide

Is NYC really #2?

Once you get out of the core (manhattan & areas in the outer-boroughs close to the core) feels sprawlish IMHO; Like some parts of upper Astoria feel just like LI. Can anyone think of a neighborhood in NYC which is as walkable as Forest Hills, the Slope etc. which has a highway ripping through it?

Jun. 19 2014 10:00 AM

Yes, DC is lovely this time of year. -- Grim Reaper

Jun. 19 2014 09:55 AM
Catherine C. from Huntington, NY

Without a doubt DC is the Walker's Winner! Wide sidewalks, handicapped accessible (and perfect for strollers) at every intersection, countdown timers with sufficient time to cross. I spent a delightful week in August, babysitting a grandchild. We walked everywhere, shops, library, church, with n'er a fear of traffic, or personal safety. Reminded me of growing up in Queens, when we walked everywhere!

Jun. 19 2014 09:12 AM
john from office

DC is unwalkable, the heat, humidity and the glare from all that Marble is terrible. They drained a swamp to build DC, it is unbearable.

The residents go from air conditioning to air conditioning. That is not a life.

Also, NYC has far less no-go areas, in DC you can walk into these areas without knowing it and end up at the wrong end of a gun.

Jun. 19 2014 08:56 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

Why, yes, it is possible that NYC is not the top in everything!

Imagine a city where one can walk without billowing trash, constant horn honking, and regular threats of death at street crossings... why that would be DC! NYC is wonderfully walkable but let's not pretend that our streets are owned by anyone BUT the cars and trucks that clog them. The timing of lights, design of intersections, parking rules, etc. are all about appeasing drivers. Those of us who walk or bike are just obstacles for them to overcome. The noise (honking aggressively if their progress is impeded for a millisecond; air brakes from trucks in the middle of the night, clanging bits of metal not tied down, etc.), fumes, and overall level of hostility of drivers erode the quality of life here.

Jun. 19 2014 08:39 AM

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