Baltimore has a walkability rating that is 14th among large United States cities, according to the online resource Walk Score. This means that the city has many areas in which the citizens can walk to stores and restaurants to accomplish their daily chores. Some neighborhoods have everything you may possibly need within a five minute walk of one’s residence, others may force
one to take a bus or hail a cab or drive a car.
of living in a walkable neighborhood far outweigh those of a non-walkable neighborhood. When you live in a walkable neighborhood you benefit from higher quality health, a happier environment, stronger financial stability, and a stronger community. According to a study done by the Natural Resource Defense Council, “the average person who lives in a walkable neighborhood weighs 6-10 lbs less than a non walkable neighborhood resident.” Also, a pedestrian is not contributing to the 82% of CO2 emissions produced by cars.
Elements of a walkable neighborhood, according to Walk Score:
- A main center, maybe a public space or main street
- Plenty of people to ensure businesses are strong
- Affordable Housing
- Designed with pedestrians in mind
- Schools and workplaces in walking distance of housing
- Streets for bikes, cars, and pedestrians
Even though the city as a whole scored a 64 out of 100, there are several individual neighborhoods that scored over 90 and can be used as a template for success to build upon in the future. The most walkable neighborhood in Baltimore was Federal Hill with an astounding score of 97. Sharp-Leadenhall is close behind with a score of 96. Other neighborhoods that scored a 90 or higher were: Otterbein, Mount Vernon, Abell, Downtown, Perkins Homes, Mid-town Belvedere, Hampden, and Charles Village.
While it is encouraging that Baltimore ranks 14th in the nation among large cities, our average score for the City is still only a 64, which is a D in the classroom.
New York City’s score of 85 shows that our city has much room to improve and there are a lot of things we can do to accomplish this improvement. It is important to look at Baltimore’s neighborhoods with high walk scores to see what can be mimicked in other areas of the city (for example: thriving main streets, easy access to job centers by foot or by transit). We can help make future plans to redesign neighborhoods making them more accessible to pedestrians. We can create plans to help more small businesses with street level storefronts stay open so that citizens have places nearby to run errands. Creating more parks and public spaces is another good way to help improve the walkability of the city as many areas in the city do not have a park or public space to which they can walk safely . These are plans that citizens can help create with their local community leaders that will be essential in getting Baltimore to compete with other cities for investment and population.